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GNP Company was founded by E.M. Helgeson in 1926 as a small hatchery selling day-old chicks to Midwest farmers.  Today, we’re a leading supplier of two premium natural chicken brands in the Upper Midwest. Owned by Pilgrim’s Pride the world’s second largest poultry company and part of the JBS USA family, we and are proud to be part of a multi-protein organization that provides healthy proteins to enrich lives.

Check out our timeline, history video, or slideshow to learn about the major milestones in our 90+ years of business.












Company was founded by E.M. Helgeson as St. Cloud Hatcheries, which sold day-old chicks throughout the Midwest and delivered them by road, rail and air to meet customer needs.

Company name changed to Jack Frost Hatchery and became known for supplying the hardiest and healthiest chicks to the market.

Early 1950s
Company purchased by founder’s sons, Don and Jerry Helgeson; grew to include breeding, feeding, milling and processing.

Entered into a joint venture with Armour Processing Company in Cold Spring, Minnesota, to produce fresh tray pack chicken.

Launched the Gold’n Plump® brand.

Purchased the Armour Processing facility to fully integrate production. Built a feed mill in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, to meet the needs of a growing operation and distribution area.  

Early 1990s
Built a processing facility in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, to expand the company’s value-added product line.

– Company’s CEO, Don Helgeson, handed role of chief operating officer over to son, Michael.
– Purchased Arcadia Fryers, a production complex in Arcadia, Wisconsin. Subsequently, expanded the Arcadia complex to include new chicken barns, a new feed mill and increased production capabilities–all of which doubled the operation’s production capacity.

– Cold Spring, Minnesota, production plant was damaged by a fire. Plant repair accelerated previously planned expansion of the plant.
– Acquired a former beef production facility in Luverne, Minnesota. Plant converted to produce value-added, convenience chicken products.
– Completed expansion project at the Cold Spring, Minnesota, production plant. Expansion included the installation of new, patent-pending technology to produce the market’s first full line of fresh, fixed-weight scannable tray pack chicken as well as the addition of new employee welfare areas.

2000 & 2001
Consolidated operations to capitalize on recent expansion efforts and acquisitions and increase operational efficiency.

Launched a new brand, Just BARE® Chicken, that’s simply raised-without the use of antibiotics. A special “traceability” code on each package of Just BARE allows consumers to trace the chicken inside each package back to the specific family farm where it was raised.

– Completed the final phase of a multi-year expansion in Arcadia, Wisconsin, with the addition of 22,000 square feet to the production facility and 20 new family farm partners in the Arcadia area.
– Achieved Safe Quality Foods 2000 Level 2 Certification.
– Built new hatchery in Independence, Wisconsin, to support growing deli and foodservice business segments.

– Completed a waste water treatment upgrade at the company’s Cold Spring, Minnesota, processing plant, with state-of-the art equipment.
– The Just BARE® brand passes the rigorous care standards of the American Humane Association’s Farm Program and becomes third-party Humane Certified®.
– The company changes its name to GNP Company.

– GNP Company is purchased by The Maschhoffs.
– Maschhoff Family Foods is formed as a result of the acquisition to function as a holding company for The Maschhoffs Hog Production Business and The GNP Company Branded Chicken Business.

CEO Michael Helgeson hands top leadership role of President to longstanding GNP Company leader Steve Jurek in November. 

– First phase of a two-phase expansion of the company’s Cold Spring/St. Cloud area operations began; new strategic organizational changes made.
– Just BARE organic product line launched.

– Gold’n Plump begins transition to “No Antibiotics-Ever” and becomes officially certified under the American Humane Certified™ farm program. Company announces goal of being 100% “No Antibiotics-Ever” by the end of 2019.
– Company launches exciting new, healthy convenience products, including Gold’n Plump Shakers, Chicken Meatballs and Sliced Sausage.
– Open Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, Hatchery and complete expansion at Cold Spring, Minnesota Processing Plant to boost animal welfare, production capacity and automation. Includes the installation of “first-in-U.S.” operational/plant technology, including:

  • New Bird Distribution System
  • Controlled-Atmosphere(Gas) Stunning
  • Advanced Aero Scalder System scalds without immersion for nearly no cross-contamination and 75% reduction in water use
  • Advanced Spiral Washer