Mineral Wells Area News

From army barracks to booming business, GI Jerky succeeds and gives back

From army barracks to booming business, GI Jerky succeeds and gives back
February 24
19:22 2022

By Ann Powers

Seven years ago, it was just an army guy making jerky in the barracks because he didn’t like military food.

Today, GI Jerky can be found in 65 retailers nationwide and that’s expected to double before 2023.

“There are only so many MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) you can eat,” Steve Royer recalled of his days stationed at Fort Bragg, NC as an aviation operations specialist in 2015. “And, the field food is just terrible.”

So, he started making beef jerky in the 82nd Airborne barracks and taking it into the training field to munch on throughout the day. Pretty soon, his army buddies wanted in on the action and Royer began selling his protein-packed snack in individual baggies at a tidy profit.

“I would walk off the field five or six hundred dollars richer,” he said. “And, I thought maybe I would be able to turn this into something. So, that’s how it started – just me not wanting to eat army food.”

GI Jerky owner Steve Royer. Photo Courtesy Steve Royer

In 2016, Royer relocated to Camp Humphreys, Korea and his jerky side gig really took off. He said it’s much harder to find beef in Korea than in the United Staes and “raided” multiple commissaries across the peninsula just to keep up with demand.

“I pissed off quite a few army wives,” he admitted. “Because I would literally go and buy all the roasts and everything beef wise.”

After the army, Royer earned an MBA with a specialization in marketing from the University of South Carolina. He incorporated GI Jerky in 2019 and moved to Mineral Wells in 2020.

Why Mineral Wells? The Florida native said some of his best army friends are from the area.

“I’m not from here,” Royer said. “But, I got here as quickly as I could. I love Texas.”

Royer is a one-mand-band for the time being and working hard to expand his business. He hopes to build his own production facility in Mineral Wells someday. When he does, he said he would like to hire local veterans and their family members.

“I personally believe that a business shouldn’t exist to just make profits,” Royer said. “It should exist to give back to the community and other people who need help.”

A portion of every GI Jerky sale goes to veteran support organizations and Royer donates a lot of jerky to local first responders.

GI Jerky donations for care packages, distributed by Soldiers Angels, is also part of the company’s charitable endeavors. Soldiers Angels is a nonprofit providing aid, comfort and resources to the military, veterans and their families. It was founded by Gen. George S. Patton’s grandniece, Patti Patton-Bader.

Out of the 65 retailers carrying his products, two are local – The Market at 76067 and Rickhouse Brewing, soon to open. He also has a booth at the Dallas Market Center and is present at numerous events, gun shows, trade shows, rodeos and more throughout the year.

GI Jerky can be found at The Market at 76067. Photo by Ann Powers

GI Jerky currently offers 7 flavors, some with clever names like Fire Mission, Garlic Grenade, Napalm and Locked and Loaded Lemon Pepper. Royer said two more flavors are in the works, including a sugar-free option. He plans to add hot sauce and beef sticks to the product lineup as well.

GI Jerky can be ordered online at www.gijerky.us. Mineral Wells customers living within 20 miles of the post office get free delivery.

For company updates, photos and videos, visit the GI Jerky Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/gijerky, on Instagram at https://instagram.com/gijerky or on Tik Tok at www.tiktok.com/@gijerky.

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