From Our Kitchen to Your Plate
ONN Specialties is the culmination of the hard work and luck that are often the ingredients to achieving the American Dream.
On August 29, 2018, it happened that Sam Neak and Chuck Schue were at a Red Sox game in Fenway Park. They were attending the game with other colleagues from UrsaNav, a company that Chuck founded in 2004. Between innings, Sam started telling Chuck about his jerky hobby and his dream of owning and operating his own specialty food products business.
Ten years before this pivotal event, Sam had decided to purchase his first dehydrator at a local Walmart. He made his first batch of beef jerky for family and friends to try, and although he did not perfect his flavors for some time, his jerky was already unique. It was not traditional thick, chewy beef jerky. Sam sliced his beef so thin that once it was removed from the dehydrator, it was crispy.
Sam and his wife, Nary, are second generation immigrants from Cambodia. Cooking for family and friends has always come naturally for Sam, along with a passion to continuously learn and experiment with different foods. His recipes are a great combination of all the spices and ingredients from his Cambodian heritage and his American home.
Fast forward to late 2018 when, after his “Red Sox Pitch” to Chuck, Sam and Nary decided to go “all in” with investors Chuck Schue, JoAnne Bartlett, and Stephen Bartlett. It was an easy decision as they had tried and become huge fans of Sam’s jerky. They also knew the jerky was a big hit in the local community. Nary left her full-time job to help Sam pursue the business venture, and the team rebranded the business from Onn’s Beef Jerky to ONN Specialties.
It has been hard work maintaining progress during the global pandemic, including building out the first production facility and retail store. In February 2021, ONN Specialties received a permit for a Retail Food Establishment in North Billerica, MA. A soft opening of the brick-and-mortar store occurred on March 13, 2021. Our original offerings are of small batches of our artisanal jerky. We look forward to seeing you in our store!
Sam On Neak
Sam was born in the last years of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. His family fled the genocide there, living in a refuge camp in Thailand before immigrating to the United States. He grew up in Oakland, California but now resides in the Boston, Massachusetts area after a visit to the East Coast turned into a permanent move. He is devoted to his wife and their three children and is focused on ensuring they do not struggle the way he did growing up. Sam is the kitchen magician, dreaming up all manner of recipes for ONN Specialties. Although he is focused on beef jerky today, Sam has already started experimenting with recipes for other types of jerky, sausage, and soups. When he is not cooking, Sam enjoys building things from scratch, including poker tables.
JoAnne is the force behind making the trains run on time at ONN Specialties. She does this for two other companies as well. She provides all the financial, accounting, and back-office administration upon which any successful company relies. She is an avid fitness enthusiast and spends most of her early mornings on her stationary bike or on Zoom fitness classes. JoAnne spends her “spare” time sledding, boating, and otherwise spoiling her grandkids, Carmen, and Tye.
Charles “Chuck” Schue
Chuck is a serial entrepreneur, always scanning for opportunities to work with passionate people on fun projects or products. He provides the leadership, mentoring, and financing that most startups need. This is the 12th company in which he has been a founder or co-founder, but his first foray into the specialty foods market. Chuck is tremendously satisfied to be part of a company where the products sell themselves. He is fortunate to have the full support of his loving wife, Lori, and their two adult children in all his pursuits.
Nary’s background is like Sam’s, having escaped Cambodian genocide by way of a refuge camp in Thailand and immigration to the United States, landing in San Francisco, California. She is the proud mother of Asia, Alysia, and Aiden, whom she says are her greatest accomplishments in life. Growing up terrified of dogs, Nary now also has two “fur babies”, Maverick and Rocco, who she and Sam love to pamper. At ONN Specialties, Nary manages the day-to-day operations, sales, and production of our great products. She is the wizardess that oversees the making of our extra crispy jerky, as well as the director of our storefront sales.
Stephen acts as “Chief Operating Officer”, keeping an eye on all the moving parts necessary to ensure Sam and Nary can focus on new product development and delivery. Like his wife JoAnne, Stephen manages the operations of two other technology-related companies. His main goal is always happy and satisfied customers. While he could never keep up the pace of activity of his wife, JoAnne, he does enjoy golfing and boating with the grandkids and quizzing them on math problems.