Rural Jewel Still Shines
Third-generation of the Dewig family processes cattle and hogs at 98-year-old Haubstadt plant.
When a person shops at Dewig Bros. Packing Co. in Haubstadt, it’s an outing, not just a run to the grocery store to pick something up. When you arrive at Dewig’s at 100 Maple St. you’ll find that the selections offered are not just pork chops and steaks but also pig knuckles, bratwurst and much more. A person can even buy a whole side of beef.
Dewig Plant Manager Dean Dewig, 44, a member of the third generation of Dewigs in the meat processing business, said if the side is wrapped properly, it should remain good and safe, for eating for a year with no problem. Brothers John, Joe and Tony Dewig started Dewig Bros. Packing Co. Inc. from humble beginnings in Haubstadt in 1916.
John’s sons, Tom and the late Bill, bought the business from their father in 1962. Dean is Tom’s Son. Dean’s son, Austin, 15, worked at Dewig’s this past summer, representing the family’s fourth generation.
The company’s meats are known nationwide and overseas. Why has Dewig’s been so successful? According to Dean Dewig, “For good products, we start with good, high-quality cattle and hogs that are well fed. Area farms all over Indiana, Southern Illinois, and Western Kentucky provide their cattle and pigs. Dewig doesn’t use its own cattle or pigs. “We only process top-quality cattle and hogs from area farmers,” Dewig said. “As far as I’m concerned, the cattle and pigs raised in this region are the best around. We also have the best farmers in the world.” Dewig said grain and grass works the best for cattle to dine on. “It takes lots of acreage with grass, which is extremely expensive and sometimes doesn’t grow quite fast enough. Hogs are not grass eaters, but eat grain, which allows farmers to control the amount that they eat.”
Dewig’s employs more than 40 associates, many of whom are related to the family. That number and the size of the processing facility may expand in the future, if Dewig’s starts selling some of its meats overseas for the first time. The company has considered the idea for some time and hopes to soon begin selling some of its meats in Central America, and/or Asia, and/or Europe. Dewig officials have gotten requests from individuals, including Indiana beef promoters, to sell overseas. Dewig said the company hopes to soon complete federal documentation that will allow Dewig’s to ship overseas. “We’ve gotten approvals from federal agencies and are almost through the process.”
“A final step includes a live walkthrough audit by federal representatives, to make sure we’ll do what we said on paper we’ll do. “They want to follow the paper trail.” Dewig won’t have a processing plant overseas, Dewig said.
“We’re keeping our options open and are not sure to which country or countries we’ll be shipping.” If the overseas shipping becomes a reality, it will be just one of many ways that Dewig has diversified and grown over the years. “I’m not completely convinced it will be the best thing ever. But, we will be the only Indiana beef processor to be able to ship overseas,” Dewig said.
Dean said Dewig’s is the only place he’s worked. That can also be said about many of the other Dewigs involved with the plant. Dean Dewig began working there in 1985 while attending Gibson Southern High School.
“I didn’t know there was anything else to do,” he said. “I’ve done just about every job here, from butchering and processing to maintenance, driving a truck, and filling in for vacationing workers.” The company added a new retail building about three years ago, which is three to four times larger than the old retail facility. The new facility is attached to the old building, which is now used for offices and storage. “We enjoy a good loyal following of customers in the Tri-State,” Dewig said. The company also fills requests for meats from customers in Florida, California, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois. “We go to Indy every week with a delivery of beef and pork that weighs quite a few thousands of pounds,” Dewig said. Dewig delivers sausage and pig knuckles to Nashville, Tennessee, for the Gerst Haus, a brother to the Evansville Gerst Haus. “Gerst pickles the knuckles themselves,” Dewig said.
Like most other businesses, Dewig’s likes to grow sales markets, but the process can take months or years. A new market may start from a single individual inquiring about getting product to somewhere presently not on Dewig’s routes. November and December are the best sales months for Dewig’s, followed by summertime, with its church festivals and other events. Dewig’s credits the company’s good day-to-day operation partly to social media and the internet.
The biggest challenge for a company like Dewig is keeping up with federal regulations. “We must document our every action every day, and we don’t have just one person who does the paperwork. Every department has a person on it,” Dewig said. Dewig’s retail business is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
Article Written by:
The Evansville Business Journal October 2014 Edition.