P.O. Box 186
Haubstadt, IN 47639
Monday thru Friday
7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gourmet Ham (PDF)
Smoked Ham (PDF)
Standing Rib Roast,
Dewig's Annual Open House Sat. May 11.
Sales starting Thurs May 9 and good while supplies last.
| Dewig Bros. helps Special Forces make the cut
Read Full Article: Dewig Bros. helps Special Forces make the cut
Dewig Bros. helps Special Forces make the cut
Butcher skills taught to help live off the land
Original article by Max Roll, Reprinted from courierpress.com article.
HAUBSTADT, Ind. — For eight members of the Army's 1st Special Forces Group, training for deployment to Afghanistan means learning how to butcher cattle and hogs.
That's how the soldiers, based at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash., ended up on a recent morning 1,877 miles from there at Dewig Bros. Packing Co. in Haubstadt and preparing to skin and debone more than 5 tons of pork.
Dressed in long, white coats and thick gloves, the elite soldiers appear little different from the real butchers in Dewig's cutting room.
"Pork's the easiest meat to debone because you can't really screw it up," John Splinder, one of the more experienced butchers at Dewig's, announced to the soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Corey Gravensande, a five-year Special Forces veteran, seconded Splinder, saying, "As long as you have a sharp knife, it's as easy as shaving butter, especially since all the shoulder goes into the grinder in the end."
Gravensande and the others will deploy to Afghanistan soon. He said some men will be a part of 12-man teams stationed in the "middle of nowhere." Learning how to live off the wild will come in handy. This means knowing how to prepare livestock for consumption.
At 31, Gravensande never imagined when he volunteered for the Army in his hometown of Orlando, Fla., that butchering animals would be listed under the duties of a Special Forces soldier, but he's taking the extra training with a curious mind.
"What interests me the most was seeing how a pig was alive and all the processes to the end, when it ends up on someone's dinner plate," said Gravensande, who dreams of owning a pastry shop after he leaves the Army.
The soldiers received four days of training at Dewig's, and this was the third group the shop has seen come through it's doors.
The first one came at the end of last October when plant manager Dean Dewig received a telephone call from a sergeant from Fort Campbell, Ky., looking for a place to show the troops how to process the meat.
"They had all the classroom training, but none of the hands-on training," Dewig said.
Dewig was happy to provide the training to the soldiers, who he says often receive meat overseas in carcass form and don't know how to properly process it.
After the first class from Fort Campbell, Dewig received another call from Golden, Colo., to train another group of Special Forces. Dewig does the training free of charge, and although he is surprised it's been requested more than once, plans to continue offering the training at no cost.
"I consider it a privilege if the word has traveled from the Midwest all the way out to Washington," said Dewig.
"It's a feather in our hat if we're able to help those guys out overseas."
The way the training works is the butchers carry out the normal daily operations of the plant, but they show the soldiers how to do as they go and eventually let the soldiers butcher the meat themselves.
"They're a good group of guys," said Dewig. "If you ask them to help, they'll help. They ask a lot of questions, which is great, and they want to know why we do things the way we do."
Even the Dewig receptionists had great things to say about Thursday's class.
"They're the best group yet," one said.
Training on Thursday included processing various cuts of pork, including shoulder, tenderloin, chops and barbecue meat. Earlier, the soldiers had worked with beef.
Meat processed during Thursday's five-hour training session was shipped to Dewig clients in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.
Not all of the training is for the benefit of the Special Forces soldiers. They will also use it in a humanitarian way to assist Afghani villagers in preparing livestock for food.
"Special Forces is not just going into a country, killing everybody and taking names later," said Sgt. Erik Melendez, who is in charge of cooking within the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis.
Melendez, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, believes a war involves more than just guns and a bullets. Interacting with the indigenous people also plays an integral role in military success.
He said he is more than willing to slaughter an animal and prepare it in order to feed a village.
© 2011 Evansville Courier & Press. All rights reserved.
|Princeton Daily Clarion - July 2010
Dewig Meats Wins at Cure Championships
HAUBSTADT- If Dewig's German Bologna has a first name, it 'Grand Champion,' just one of the five awards won by Dewig Meats of Haubstadt, in the American Cured Meat Championships July 17 in Kansas City, Mo.
The awards the company is most proud of, however, are the two they received for their jumbo and skinless hot dogs, because they won grand champion in two hot dog categories with two different judges. The hot dogs are judged on their external appearance, uniform color, shape, aroma, and, of course, taste.
While the rules require that the hot dogs suppliers stick to typical frankfurter seasonings, Darla (Dewig) Kiesel, of Dewig's, said that it doesn't mean the hotdogs are seasoned identically. The hot dog makers try to make their hot dogs stick out from the others by finding different suppliers.
After the awards are announced people file into the exhibit hall where they can taste the winning weiners, (although those cured meat products that do not win go straight to a local food shelter.)
Competing in the contest is a full family affair, said Kiesel. It takes all of the family manpower to make the three or four batches that will result in two pounds of completely unblemished bologna.
"Working ahead" would compromise the freshness, which, said Kiesel, is the secret to winning the cured meat contest.
"What's so interesting is that you're talking to packers all over. It's interesting to see that different things sell in Texas that wouldn't sell in Indiana," said Kiesel.
Altogether, Dewig Meats won Grand Champion for German Bologna, Jumbo Wieners, and Skinless Wieners; Reserve Champion for Dried Beef; and Champion for Braunschweiger.
|Meat & Poultry - Feb 2009
The Tough Get Going
Since 1916, Dewig Bros. Packing has Survived and Thrived
For some businesses, operating in tough economic times is a harrowing experience. Too often it results in a death knell. But for one small Indiana meat company, tougher times have historically seemed to make them stronger.
Founded in 1916, Dewig (pronounced Day-Wig) Meats had no refrigeration and could operate only in the winter. They were located in Haubstadt, Ind., a perpetually small town of about 1,500. The firm had no equipment, only knives.
For John Dewig, who founded the business along with his two brothers, Anton and Joe, this wasnít a hardship. Their father had been a traveling butcher who went from farm to farm to ply his trade. These were the "good-old days."
Johnís sons, Tom and Bill, bought the business in 1962 and realized the business was steeled on tough times. It is now known as Dewig Bros. Packing Co. Inc.
"They had to go through the Great Depression," Tom, the surviving brother, explains. "People were waiting in lines outside the store to buy meat. And the family realized its good fortunate that they had a product people wanted."
But for the Dewig family, even tougher times were lying in wait. In 1939, a devastating fire destroyed the firmís slaughter and processing plant, leaving only one wall standing. The Dewigs rebuilt and were back in business the following year.
Another fire in 1967 destroyed the facility, burning through the sausage kitchen and processing room. That forced the plant to be rebuilt again.
Survival of the fittest
In the late 1960ís and early 1970ís, Indiana was the home to 38 medium-size packing houses, but by the end of the 70ís, most of them were gone.
"Meat-inspection issues took a toll on many, but large-plant competition with huge-volume advantages seemed to do in the rest," Tom says. Indeed, the new breed of competitors included IBP and Excels, who used pure volume to drive out many smaller operators.
Through it all, the Dewig plant hung in there, upgrading slaughter and processing equipment and expanding when they could. Using original German recipes for bratwurst and specialty sausages passed down through the family for generations, they held their ground to await the next hurdle. That challenge came in 1999 when pork producers expanded herds wildly and flooded the market. The producers were losing money on every pig they sold and the wholesale market dropped to about 10 cents per pound live weight, down from the previous level of 63 cents. The Dewig family realized the farmers were losing out and paid wellabove market prices.
"These were our friends and our neighbors who had sustained our business since its inception," Tom recalls. "We had to be there for them and shared in their loss. We were able to do this because we were not just a commodity business, but a complete processing operation that could add value to the finished product. Those farmers have not forgotten us."
In actuality, the company made money and reinvested in itself during that traumatic period, adding slaughter capacity and expanding its workforce to about 50 employees, many of them family members.
The Dewig family took the wholesale concept to heart, offering a basic price and discounts for 10-pound increments. They went after volume buyers back when Samís Clubs were creeping beyond Arkansas state lines and it paid off. They took on the supermarkets head-on, selling whole pork loins for 99 cents when the supers rang them up for a dollar more per pound.
The company began earning a reputation for its high-quality beef and pork and specialty meat items for miles around and many come to shop the 60-foot retail meat case with droves of others. Tomís wife, Janet, says it is not uncommon for as many as 17 clerks to be working behind that display case. She says people have no problem driving 100 miles to get what they want, have it cut the way they want it and to enjoy the taste of ethnic products they canít find in other stores. For proximity-challenged customers, the firm sells products on its Web site, www.dewigmeats.com.
The firm learned from the days when the market was flooded with pork and began manufacturing barbecue products, which they sold in 2-lb. packages. It has become one of their mainstays.
Customers are treated to the smell of brats and barbecue products popping, cracking or simmering on their custom-built catering truck. Many customers get their taste buds in such an uproar that they eat their fill before even walking into the store.
Dean and brother-in-law Matt Gilles started with a semi-truck trailer and turned in an efficient vehicle that boasts four cookers on one truck.
So adept at the art of making quality products had the business become that in 2002 Saveur Magazine did a feature on their "Wunder Wurst" products that have become traditional fare in Haubstadtís annual Bierstrube festival. The publication lauded the coarse texture and natural casings of their bratwurst.
And it noted that the Dewigs never ventured into making brats until they had been in business 50 years and found an authentic recipe from Germany.
"One of the most unique services we provide to our customers in this age of mass-produced meats is our willingness to meet custom orders," Janet explains. "This means that instead of limiting your choices to the meat cuts we provide, we will also make any custom cut you desire."
Tom goes one step further, adding that the companyís success has been its willingness to give customers what they want while still being diversified. "When I say the Dewigs have been here since 1916, Iím telling you that we are strong on history and strong in our traditions, but we wouldnít still be here if we hadnít stayed up to date."
A family affair
Although his brother, Bill, passed away in 2003, Tom and Janet along with their childre Dean & Darla are all active in the business, Dean now runs the day-to-day operations, while Dean's wife, Karen, is experienced in printing and advertising, paved the way for her role directing advertising and promotions for the company. This provided Tom and Janet more time to spend with grandchildren.
Their daughter, Darla, and her husband, Aaron Kiesel are also active in the business. Darla handles the bookkeeping and Aaron has taken over sausage-making and production. It appears to be a winning combination for the plantís reputation. In 2008, when Aaron entered his first American Cured Meat Championships sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors, he brought home four award plaques.
But what has immortalized the Dewig family most has been their commitment to the community and industry activities. Tom served as the 60th president of AAMP and Dean is now serving on that organizationís board of directors. They shouldered plenty of the load to keep the Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association on top of things during the toughest of times. Dean is a past president of the IMPPA and Darla serves on their board of directors. The Dewig family gives others the credit but are never hesitant to do the grunt work as well, putting on programs, sponsoring activities and events.
The firm has earned hundreds of ribbons and plaques for their products entered in state and AAMP meat competitions.
But perhaps an article in the Wall Street Journal captured their motivation and spirit as well as any. In March, 1999, it offered this insight:
"The Dewigs have made a good living. Their home is a brick estate with a circular driveway, topiary and pig statues. But they donít take their welcome for granted. Each June they have a customer appreciation day, selling bratwurst for a quarter and giving the proceeds to Wish Upon a Star, a private charity that serves terminally-ill children. They hire extra people just to help park the cars. When the volunteer fire departmentís oldest engine, a 1947 Ford, was about to be taken away by a vintage truck collector, Mr. Dewig bought it. He gives school children rides in it."
While the business has grown to the multi-million dollar volume each year, about half of which is wholesale and half retail, the Dewig family still offers custom processing for local farmers, a way of not forgetting its roots and helping sustain area agricultureís small families.
They havenít forgotten the tough times. They just made the most they could out of them.
This article can also be found in the digital edition of MEAT&POULTRY, February 2009, starting on Page 60.
|Dewig Meats Awarded the Friend of the Industry Award
Dewig Meats was awarded the 2008 Supporter of Affiliate Activities/ Friend of the Industry Award from the Indiana Beef Cattle Association.
In 1916 John Dewig and his two brothers set up what is today Dewig Bros. Packing Co. Inc. In those days the only tools employees of Dewig used to process meat were their knives. From these humble beginnings the Dewig family has advanced their company to be one of the most successful meat packing plants in Indiana. The family had been involved in the meat business before the plant in Haubstadt Indiana was opened. John Dewig's father had been a road butcher, traveling to various farms in the area early in the century.
John's sons, Tom and Bill, bought the business from their father in 1962. The plant has continually evolved to keeping up with new technology and processes. Today, state-of-the art meat cutting equipment and computers maximize efficiency at the plant. The family continues to value tradition; each meat cutter still carries his/her own knife belt and hone. The company currently employs more than 40 people, many of whom are related to the Dewigs. The Dewig Bros. Packing Co.'s quality meat and outstanding service have caused them to be the only remaining meat packing plant in the Evansville, Indiana area.
Dewig Meats is one of the few Federally-Inspected processing plants in Indiana that continue to harvest animals and cut boxed beef. A 60-foot retail counter displays an abundance of products from cut steaks and ground beef to their famous German Style Bratwurst and hundreds of other pork and beef products, all made in house. Aside from processing animals for their retail case, they also provide custom processing services for producers and consumers from the area and around the state. Showing support for family business and agriculture they recently began processing products for the Heartland Premium Aged Beef, LLC.
Dewig Meats have won numerous awards for their products, served in many leadership roles for the State and National Meat Packers and Processors Association and have had been the focus of many articles for publication.Some of these articles are featured in the Meat Business Magazine, The Hungry Hoosier, SAVEUR Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.
The company's willingness to give customers what they want while providing a diverse selection contributes to the success of Dewig Bros. Packing Co. . If the past is any indication of where this company is going, the future looks positive and progressive.. "When I say the Dewigs have been here since 1916, I'm telling you that we are strong on history and strong in our traditions, but we wouldn't still be here if we hadn't stayed current and up to date,," said co-owner, Tom Dewig.
The Indiana Beef Cattle Association awarded Dewig Meats the 2008 Friend of the Industry Award as well as the 2008 Supporter of Affiliate Activities Award for their continued support of Indiana's Beef industry.
|Dean Dewig elected to Board of Directors of AAMP - 2006 thru 2009
Dean Dewig was elected to the American Association of Meat Packers Board
He is the Region 3 representative in charge of representing
Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, & Ohio
|Hungry Hoosier - Jan 2006
My trip to Southwest, Indiana last week included a stop by Dewig Meats a meat processor and retailer since the early 1900s. They have one of the longest meat counters I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I did not have a cooler with me so I didn't make a purchase but I'm already making plans to go back. I wonder if the people of Haubstadt, Indiana (pop. 1,529) know how fortunate they are.
URL for Article http://scotthutcheson.typepad.com/the_hungry_hoosier/2006/01/dewig_meats.html
|American Association of Meat Processors - July 2004
Thomas Dewig of Dewig Meats received the 2004 Annual Achievement Award from the American Association of Meet Processors (AAMP).
The Award is the National Trade Organization's Highest Honor, which recognizes the honorees outstanding and continuing contributions to the meat and poultry industry.
He received the Award in Grand Rapids, MI, where he was attending the 65th American Convention of Meat Processors & Suppliers' Exhibition. The meeting is an annual educational event and trade show.
He has been an active member of AAMP, the country's largest national meat and poultry trade organization, which represents more than 1700 small and mid-sized meat and poultry firms.
|SAVEUR Magazine - March 2002
Dewig's all-pork bratwurst is famous for driving customer hog wild
Mention bratwurst to anyone in the small town of Haubstadt, in southwestern Indiana, and chances are pretty good that you will be referred to Dewig (pronounced Day-wig) Meats - a family-owned butcher shop that specializes in German pork products.
In 1916 the Dewig brothers, Anton, Joe and John - whose grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany in the mid-1800's - decided to leave their jobs in the wholesale meat industry and open their own butcher shop. After choosing a storefront on Main Street, they built a slaughterhouse out back, installed the requisite slices and grinders, and stocked the counters with everything from pork chops to homemade bologna. It wasn't until nearly 50 years later, however, that they ventured into bratwurst territory, in response to a request that they supply the town's annual Bierstube festival with the spiced German sausages, which were not yet common in the States. Never having prepared bratwurst themselves, the Dewig's looked to the best sausage maker they knew - Family friend Jewell Steick. Using a closely guarded recipe handed down from his German grandfather, Steick helped the brothers make their first batch of bratwurst. The juicy, coarse-textured, all-pork sausages (bratwurst is also typically made with veal or a combination of the two meats) were a hit, and as soon as the trio persuaded Steick to divulge the exact recipe, it became the house standard.
Today's bratwurst is the shop's most popular offering--and an essential component of any Haubstadt barbecue. Park of what makes Dewig's version so good is the freshness of the meat and the blend of spices and herbs, which include nutmeg, sage, celery seed, oregano, and savory. Dewig, now run by John's son Tom, also uses a natural casing, which pops when you bite into it, unlike the fibrous synthetic casings that surround many other brands' bratwurst.
|Wall Street Journal - March 1999
Hog Raisers' Pain Puts An Old-Style Butcher On the Knife-Edge
The Dewig's can make a Killing or they can show concern for their rural neighbors
by Carl Quintanilla, Staff Reporter of the Wall Street Journal
Haubstadt, Ind. - As farmers here saw hog prices plunge to Depression-era lows this winter, they felt as if salt were being rubbed in their wounds. For even as they were losing heavily, somebody down the line - big meatpackers or supermarket chains - seemed to be getting rich on pigs: the price of pork at the supermarket was staying about as high as ever.
"These big companies are essentially saying, "Your goods are worth $20 - we'll pay you $4, " says Tom Dewig, a local businessman. "That's what our farmers are going through."
He knows what he is talking about. His business is Dewig Meats, a place where hogs waddle in the back, then are displayed out front a few hours later as ham and sausage. Mr. Dewig (pronounced Day-wig) is a meatpacker and a meat retailer, too.
But he's not one of those "big companies" for whom farmers' pain is assumed to be just an abstraction. Mr. Dewig lives right here in Haubstadt. His delivery truck, with a pink pig painted on the side, is a familiar sight as it rumbles through this small town's streets. Dewig Meats, run by Tom and Janet Dewig, even caters local picnics.
So what to do? On the one hand, the depressed hog market presented the chance of a lifetime for them, a historic "spreed" between what they could buy pork for alive and what they could sell it for dressed. But if the Dewig's made a killing on this, they knew they were doing it off the misfortune of hard-working rural neighbors, some of them on the verge of bankruptcy. And other people would know it, too.
Then again, the Dewig's are hard-working themselves, and they too have their dreams.
Janet and Tom Dewig
The couple, both 52 years old, wanted to expand and remodel the business. "It was difficult," say Mr. Dewig, as he recalls the family's deliberations over how to deal with local farmers when the hog business first fell out of bed. "Prices were an absolute bargain, but we also had to know in the back of our head that if we weren't fair, we'd end up paying for it.
This isn't the kid of thing that much troubles a big, publicly held company. It is different when, as Mr. Dewig says, "I've got to live with these people."
Except for the 175 year-old Log Inn, said to have once served Abraham Lincoln, Dewig Meats is about the only widely know business in Haubstadt, a town of 1,445 set among the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Dewig has 50 employees and close to $10 million in annual sales. But it is also something of an anachronism. As a few companies like IBP, Inc., Excel, Smithfield Foods, Inc. and the Swift & Co. unit of ConAgra, Inc. have grabbed most of the hog-slaughter business, and a supermarket chains have supplanted local butchers, the independent meat shop with its own "kill floor" has been getting scarcer. Only 1,800 remain, and almost nobody is opening a new one. Dewig Meats dates from 1916, when Tom's grandfather started it.
It is a place where locals take visitors, showing them displays of special cuts and sausages made from local livestock. It's following is loyal. "Nothing compares to what those guys make." say Tom Chamberlain, a South Carolin resident who never visits his mother in Haubstadt without buying a 10-pound box of the Dewig's frozen bratwursts to grill at home.
The Dewig's have made a good living. Their home is a brick estate with a circular driveway, topiary and pig statues. But they don't take their welcome for granted. Each June they have a customer-appreciation day, selling bratwurst for a quarter and giving the proceeds to a hospital. ("they hire extra people just to help park the cars," says City Clerk Bonnie Wagner.) When the volunteer fire department's oldest engine, a 1947 Ford, was about to be taken away by a vintage-tuck collector. Mr. Dewig bought it. He give school children rides in it.
Mr. Dewig typically pays hog farmers the same price as Excel, a Cargill Inc. unit and the nation's second-largest meatpacker, which has a large plant down the road. Dewig Meats can slaughter a mere 200 hogs a week, but some farmers would rather sell to it than to Excel; that way they know their produce is served on local dinner tables and in restaurants.
And selling to the Dewig's is more personal. The Excel plant is a fortress-like edifice with a wire fence and security guards at the gate. At Dewig Meats, a farmer dropping off livestock can sip coffee with the proprietors while watching his hogs amble off trailers. (Their next stop is the kill floor, where a bolt of electricity to the head kills them, after which half a dozen workers with knives set to work.)
The loyalty is such that when hog prices rose two years ago to a lofty 63 cents a pound, a few farmers offered to sell to Dewig Meats for about 60 cents. Mr. Dewig wouldn't accept the discount. "No matter what I said, I couldn't make him do it," says Joe Knapp, a farmer. "I know he was losing money on that pork. "Large packers also took a beating in that period.
That price spike helped fuel a nationwide hog-herd over expansion, which began to depress prices last summer. By August, prices hovered at 30 cents a pound, or about give cents less than break-even for most growers.
At his meat shop, Mr. Dewig rushed to a monitor each morning to check the price of hogs, unable to believe his eyes. "We'd sit there and look at the thing and say, 'It can't go any lower.' But it did, "he says, shaking his head. "The next day, we'd say, 'It can't go any lower.' But it did again."
Mr. Dewig had always said that no hog should sell for less than 30 cents a pound. So when the market price dipped into the mid-20's in September and October, he continued paying farmers 30, knowing that even at that price, he could profit handily. By Halloween, though, the price farmers could get elsewhere was down almost to 20 cents. Mr. Dewig finally broke his rule and started paying less than 30 cents. "I lowered my standards," he says.
When the market price fell into th teens, Mr. Dewig set himself a new floor: 20 cents a pound. But then, in mid-December, prices briefly dipped below 10 cents a pound - about a 60-year low - Mr. Dewig lowered his standards yet again. Still, on a day when the Excel plant was offering farmers 11.5 cents a pound, Mr. Dewig offered a nickel more.
Like hog growers all across America, farmers around Haubstadt were losing megabucks. A 240-pound market-weight hog that would have brought $140 or so a few years ago was at one point worth only $25 or $30. Farmers were losing roughly $50 a head, just when the profitability hand vanished from virtually everything else they could raise.
But IBP, Inc. acquiring hogs at this depressed price, saw its profits quadruple in the fourth quarter, and pork become one of supermarket's most profitable items. The Dewig's also fared well: They had the best fourth quarter in their history. "Our margins went up because costs were low - plain and simple." Mr. Dewig says.
He and his wife started celebrating: Pursuing their dream of expansion, they put $300,000 into new freezers and slaughtering equipment. They are planning a $1.6 million improvement in the store's retail front, expanding the 60-foot refrigerator case, which holds a mother lode of rib-eye steaks, pork chops and smoked jowl. This month, the Dewig's missed the installation of a new smokehouse because they were on a cruise to Barbados. The meat business "has been good to me." Mr. Dewig says, "Real, real good."
For his hog-farmer neighbors, the above-market prices Dewig Meats paid helped ease both losses and resentment. "He's fair." says Ray Rexing, who has sold hogs to Mr. Dewig since 1970.
Mr. Knapp is of two minds, Mr. Dewig "understands we're losing our a-- and he's making money faster than he ca rake it in." the farmer says. But the next moment, he recalls the losses Mr. Dewig himself took two or three years ago when hog farmers were doing well, and calls him a "dang good guy."
Talk of farmers throwing their hands in the air in frustration elicits only understanding from Mr. Dewig. "Where would your hands be?" he says. "Some were out of humor, and rightfully so." Still, inside the shop, farmers' plight has created tension with customers, who sometimes "look at you like it was your fault," says Mrs. Dewig.
To convince farmers of its support Dewig Meats advertised that is would sell pork items at special prices every week. One week, while supermarkets charged $1.99 a pound for pork loin, Dewig Meats sold it for 99 cents. "I've never heard of anyone else doing 99 cents a pound," says Steve Pohl, another local farmer.
Hog prices have rebounded a bit. Some economists expect them to get back above 35 cents per pound later this year, which would narrow farmers' losses and meatpackers' and meat retailers' profits. Mr. Dewig says nothing will have changed between him and his suppliers, some of them friends since grade school. He says he is pleased with "the way I've treated these farmers....And I'm sure they are, too."
|New AAMP President - Tom Dewig - August 1998
The 59th American Convention of Meat Processors, held recently in Minneapolis, was a busy mixture of education, product shopping, industry promotion, and fun.
Several hundred processors and industry suppliers converged on the Twin Cities for the four-day program, which featured an educational program geared specially for the Small and mid-sized meat processors. The emphasis in their educational workshops and seminars was on the "how to" of processing, product marketing and business management.
Some 130 industry suppliers filled two exhibition halls. Equipment, tools, supplies and materials and special services for meat processors were on display during the exhibition which spanned three days. The combination of a prosperous economy, consumer demand for more specialty meat items, and processor need to be more efficient all resulted in lively attendance at the exhibition.
In association business, Thomas E. Dewig, operation of Dewig Meats, Haubstadt, IN, was elected the 60th president of the association during the convention. Dewig will serve a one-year term through mid-July 1999.
Dewig finds is place full and overflowing with HACCP issues, HACCP consumed many hours of meetings during the convention.
AAMP members and leaders are concerned that HACCP will not work in the small and very small plants. Or, or least, they are stressing the point that no one knows for sure.
What's, more, they suggest that USDA is not interested in finding out. Instead, the Department is proceeding ahead with implementation, with no idea of the true cost to small plants of implementing HACCP and with no idea of how many operators will have to close their doors because they cannot pay the price of implementation.
Finally, these AAMP members and leaders point out that USDA has no alternatives for small plants under inspection if HACCP does not work or if it cost too much to implement. It's one-size-fits-all program, these processors point out.
AAMP fears that more than half of the 10,000 inspected small and very small meat processing plants across the nation may fold in the face of HACCP implementation.
AAMP launched a survey of its members after the convention, trying to get an appraisal of the cost of implementing HACCP at the small and very small plant level.
Survey responses have been interesting. One AAMP member, who has been operating HACCP on an experimental basis, reported his plant production has dropped drastically because of the time it takes to do the paperwork. Other responses indicate that plants with only a few employees will have to shut down to do the HACCP record-keeping work.
AAMP is asking USDA to consider alternative including
Allowing delayed implementation of the next two HACCP phases, to keep small plants under inspection.
Allow small plants to start HACCP only if it is proven it will not force them out of business.
Keep the present inspection system for smaller plants, and/or incorporate some aspects of HACCP into the present system
Permit small plants to implement HACCP on product at a time.
Board of Directors
|Meat Business Magazine - May 1992
Strong on Tradition But Open to Change
This meat processing company has a history that goes back nearly 80 years. Although their recipes are old-world German, their philosophy of doing business is decidedly modern. There's only one rule at Dewig's: If it comes out of a beef or a pork, they can do it.
"We process everything we kill, from one end to the other". says Tom Dewig, second generation operator of Dewig Meats in Haubstadt, Indiana. Now some of you out there probably have heard the same thing said in different, perhaps more colorful ways, such as "we use everything but the oink," but no matter how you phrase it, it comes down to this: At Dewig Meats, whatever the customer wants, the customer gets. That's true, eve if Tom has to sacrifice three sides of beef to get a specific cut. Whatever it takes he says, his company will do it.
"We're a little unique in that we're not out to sell cases of loins or sides of beef," Tom added. "We'll sell them, but what we really want to do is take that pork or beef right down to where it's going on the plate to the consumer."
At Dewig Meats, situated in a prime location within three miles of the intersection of Interstate 64 and Highway 41, customers come in all the time with special requests. Sometimes they even bring their cookbooks when they ask Tom and his wife, Janet, to provide a cut of meat to their exact specifications.
Having a staff that includes some of the best meat cutters around, many with 25-25 years experience in the business, really helps. It also helps that the Dewig's retail policy is a bit different than many meat processors.
"We start with a basic price and usually give discounts in the 10 pound increments," Tom explained. "Although we have 60 feet of meat counter, we do not have one pork chop in our case. We don't have anything pre-sliced. Instead we have pork loins which we'll gladly cut into pork chops. By selling the whole primal cuts in family paks, we can slice them to specifications while the customer waits.
The same philosophy holds true if you're shopping for pork steaks (Dewig's sells Boston Butts in case lots, then cuts the steaks to order) or even hams (they sell them in lots of five.) Now, some of you may wonder what family is going to buy five hams at one time, but many families in the Dewig's area get together to by them. It's like a Sam's Club for custom cut meats.
"We want to run a volume meat business," Tom said, "which is a little different than most places. Most places want to sell a higher priced, smaller volume item in their retail case. We looked at the situation in our area and decided there was a need for products from the families, for the neighborhood barbecues, and so forth."
The decision paid off, and the company became known for providing that service. If you're going to have a cookout, the place to go, as everyone knows, is Dewig Meats.
With all this volume business, one would expect the Dewig's to have quite an extensive retail operation.
One would expect correctly! With 60 feet of service counter and an additional two walk-up coolers in the rear of the shop, it often takes several clerks to wait on all the customers. Since there is no self-service, sometimes is gets quite crowded behind that counter. According to Janet, on holiday weeks they've had as many as 17 clerks working at the same time.
While their customer base comes primarily from souther Indiana (mostly around Evansville), their location at the junction of two major highways has helped draw people from as far away as St. Louis and Louisville.
In addition to their retail trade, Dewig Meats does a healthy wholesale business. They run routes to local restaurants, stores and institutions, normally within a 50-100 mile radius of the plant. They run most of that operation themselves, although they do have a delivery stop or two in Indianapolis which they job out. Sometimes they don't have to go to their wholesale customers, instead, those customers come to Dewig's.
"Right now we have an extremely high wholesale pick-up, that is, accounts such as restaurants drive into the plant because they want to see their product and hand pick it," explained Tom. "So, even though legally we have to separate our retail and wholesale sales, we still have a lot of what we call plant wholesale, sales don right in the plant rather than on the trucks."
Half of the company's volume is still retain, though, It has to be, says Tom, or they couldn't keep a big market like theirs open. Retail isn't the only hub of the business, but it's the main hub. Their work hours are based on the retail shop's hours.
"Over the years," Tom said, "we found that to have a real good retail operation, yo have to have a real good wholesale to move different products or to get your poundage up."
Another aspect of their business that sets the Dewig's apart is that, since Day 1 of the company's operation, they have also been into custom slaughtering. While other packers in their area have stopped doing custom work because the business has dwindled, the Dewig's continue to service the people in their German community, many of whom still keep livestock on their farms.
"We never quit anything," said Tom. "You've got to give customers what they want, while still being diversified. I think that's been a problem in the meat industry, that some operators have refused to change with the times. When I say Dewig's have been her since 1916, I'm telling you that we're strong on history and strong in our traditions, but we wouldn't still be here if we hadn't stayed current and up-to-date.
As an example, Tom points to how he's automated his office. Business is no longer done with a clipboard and a pencil but with a sophisticated system that includes five computerized scales hooked into a main office computer. With as many different retail items as the Dewig's offer, being able to change prices quickly and efficiently is vital.
That's a far cry from when Tom's father, John, and Tom's uncle's, Tony and Joe, started the business. It's even quite different from when Tom and his brother, Bill took over the operation in 1962. When Bill, who is 19 years older than Tom, retired in 1990, Tom and Janet took over sole ownership.
The Dewig family had already been in Haubstadt for two generations before the company was formed. The town's rich German traditions influenced the company's direction, and the Dewig products have always been consistent with the heritage upon which the community was founded in 1855. Al the sausage makers in the business have been of German background. One of the most memorable was a man named Stratha Dunn, whom everyone called Strawberry. From the time he came to work for the Dewig's in 1970 until his retirement, his reputation as one of the finest sausage makers in Indiana grew, and so, too, did that of the business.
Dewig Meats continue to grow and prosper, according to Tom and Janet, because of its ability to evolve with the times and with changing consumer attitudes about meat. Even in the last few years, they've noticed that they've had to make major changes in the way they gets products ready for the consumer. The types of products clients are asking for now include convenience items and leaner cuts.
"We make table ready products that fulfill the consumer's need for convenience items," Tom stared. "A few years ago, we started making barbecued pork, just because we had the extra pork picnics. Now, we can hardly keep up the the demand for it, and at certain times of the year we have to buy in pork to fill all our orders.
The barbecue retails in 2-pound packages, comes with a commercial sauce and can be microwaved for easy serving.
"It constantly amazes me that customers who are buying other big meat items always seem to pick up a package or two of barbecue on their way through the store just because it's handy." Other convenience items available as Dewig Meats include beef patties (two specially seasoned for the grill), pork burgers, a line of breaded chicken items including nuggets and bratwurst. Dewig's bratwurst is made the old fashioned way, with fresh milk and eggs.
"In our area, sales have skyrocketed," Tom said of the German-style sausage. "We'll make more bratwurst in a summer than we will wieners., Saturday is the biggest business day of the week for us and it's not unusual for customers to run in quickly and grab a box of patties and a package of bratwurst for a cookout. Just about every family gathering in this area amounts to hamburgers and brats on the grill.
Some of the changes the Dewig's have made to provide their customers with the leanest trimmest cuts include switching to some of the new breeds of cattle that give leaner but still tender meat, as well as offering both choice beef for the older generation that seems to like their meat super tender and a line of very closely trimmed steaks, etc., for the younger families. They also make a breakfast sausage that extremely lean. In fact, whatever, the market demands, Tom states, that's what Dewig Meats is ready to give
As far as the future is concerned, Tom and Janet are optimistic. "I think there is a place for us," Tom concluded. "We're small enough to be versatile, yet big enough to be able to put out some product. I think as long as we're will to change with the times and don't let ourselves get in a rut, I have high hopes that our success with continue."
The same can be said for the meat industry in general, says Tom, who think meat processors could learn to market themselves and their products better.
"The meat business has taken some bad raps over the last few years," he said. "Some of it we brought on ourselves because we didn't get out there and promote our own products. In the last few years, we've finally gotten out there to day, "Look at the good, lean, wholesome products we're making." Now that we're on the bandwagon, I can see some definite changes in people's attitudes about meat. Because of that, I think the meat business has a bright future, as long as we sell the products people what."