There are people in this world that will make a profound difference in your life without even meeting them. For me, Dru was one of those people.
For years I searched for a name for a jerky company I wanted to create. In 2014, after hundreds of ideas with no viable options, I was preparing to send a care package to the troops overseas and needed to put together a label before the package was scheduled to be shipped later that day. I was at work, without access to the internet to check for website domain availability, and came up with "Round Up Jerky", a stereotypical cowboy themed design with a cowboy lassoing a cow. The end result was a fairly nice design for a rough draft that I had quickly put together.
Immediately after I got home that evening, I checked the domain availability, and to my dismay the website had been registered just 2 hours before I had gotten home. I decided to pursue Round Up so I found the email of who registered the website and sent him an email.
The next morning I woke up and checked my phone to find out that he had emailed me back around midnight and I had e-mailed him back in my sleep a few times. I have never done anything like that in my sleep before or since. We had a full conversation and I had slept through it all. His name was Dru Jeanis, a 40 year veteran of the marketing industry, and he explained in his email that he was buying several website domains regarding cowboy themed jerky names because he wanted to have them all point to a jerky company website he was starting. I had responded to his email, “I hope that you registered www.geniusjerky.com, a play of your last name, you could have a cow with an Einstein hairstyle called Al the Cow with a simplistic farm style background design.”
As I read the email conversation my stomach sank, I realized I had just given a complete stranger and competitor an amazing idea for not only a company name but the full package. I rushed to check availability for the website domain, company name, and all social media accounts and all were available. I purchased the domain and registered the social media accounts as quick as I could. Genius Jerky was born.
Dru became a friend and mentor, we would talk 2-3 times a week on the phone to discuss Jerky, our progress, information that we discovered and the list goes on. I put the idea of the business on hold for a good portion of 2015 and our phone calls became less and less frequent during that time. I decided to start it back up in October when I made Genius Jerky official by creating an LLC. I called Dru a few times to get back in touch, but I never heard back. Fast-forward to March 2016 when we launched our Kickstarter campaign, I received an email from Dru’s wife, Irma. She had been trying to find my contact information for a few months to tell me that Dru had passed away. I was devastated, he was such a kind and caring individual. He treated me like a friend rather than competition. Irma told me that Dru always talked fondly of me and that he that looked up to me because of my creativity, ambition, and drive. I always thought it was the other way around. Dru was never able to officially start his company prior to his passing and if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to start Genius Jerky. He gave me not only the idea, but invaluable information that helped shape the direction I took with the company. Dru will always be always be a part of Genius Jerky.
-Richard Plebuch - Founder