Industry Pioneer Jerry Helgeson Dies

On March 28, 2014, in Industry Notes, by Maggie Ernst

On March 22, Gerald (Jerry) Helgeson, brother to Don Helgeson and uncle of NCC Board Chairman Mike Helgeson passed away at the age of 80, in Fallbrook, California.

Founded in 1926 by E.M. Helgeson as St. Cloud Hatcheries, and later named Jack Frost in the 1930’s to create distinction, brothers Jerry and Don purchased the business from their father in 1955. Aware of changes rapidly taking place in the industry, Jerry and Don sought to migrate the seasonal hatchery to a year-round business, strengthening its competitive position. Together, they accomplished this by adding broiler and egg operations; entering into long-term contracts with area growers; and vertically integrating the business to include breeding, feeding, milling, as well as processing through a joint venture.

While Don focused on the broiler operation, Jerry focused on the company’s egg business. This included Jack Frost’s Farm Foods division, with distribution centers that moved eggs, poultry, dairy, and other food products throughout the upper Midwest region. His brother Don has been quoted as saying, “We flip a coin when we want to find out who is going to be president and who is going to be vice president. We are on a 50-50 basis in all operations.”

A pioneer in the industry, Jerry Helgeson will be remembered for the relationships he built and the utmost respect he had for people. He infused a sense of vision and confidence that made him a charismatic leader throughout his 25-year tenure with GNP Company. Not only did he make substantial contributions to the company, but in the lives of his friends and family.