Hofmann heads West
Feb. 7, 2017
Hofmann Brands, formerly Hofmann Sausage Co., is expanding both products and services.
In 1879, August C. and John Hofmann opened a retail store and sausage business in Syracuse, New York. What started out as Hofmann Brothers became the Hofmann Sausage Co. – and eventually, a household name in Syracuse. It grew in notoriety and reputation down the Eastern Seaboard and continues its growth west under the name of Hofmann Brands with a greater variety of products added to its core business.
In 2012, a group of investors including NFL great Roger Staubach, Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim and founder of Fuddruckers and Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Phil Romano, among others, acquired the Hofmann Sausage Co. with plans to grow the regional brand into a national player. Reginald Bailey, CEO of Hofmann Brands, is focused on taking the company to new markets beyond Syracuse and the East Coast.
“As we continue to move across the country – we went into Texas and we’re in HEB – we have foodservice operations in Las Vegas and Arizona; we’re really starting to dig in and expand in a manner that will allow us to become a national and international brand,” he says. While expansion and the movement of Hofmann Brands into a broader market has been the goal of the business since the acquisition in 2012, important aspects of the company have remained the same. The tradition, the company’s roots, headquarters and manufacturing plant in Syracuse, and its recipes, the things that originally brought about long-term success, are all the same.
“The recipes have not changed at all,” Bailey says. “Only the attorney and two other people know the Hofmann recipes.” He likens the situation at Hofmann to legendary companies such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, where recipes are notoriously kept a secret. One recipe that has seen recent success for Hofmann is a jalapeño and cheese sausage. Walter (Rusty) Flook, the only remaining founding family member of Hofmann Sausage Co., remembers making the recipe for family and friends, but now Hofmann has worked the recipe into a winner for the company. “That product is actually starting to take off for the company in a very big way,” Bailey says. “But that in itself is the real pride of the brand – being able to take these locally grown recipes and grow them to something and share them with the community.”
After 133 years in business, Flook and the investment group that became Hofmann Brands struck a deal and Hofmann Sausage Co. officially became Hofmann Brands. Flook continues to consult for the company and is an investor in Hofmann Brands.
Bailey describes Hofmann before the acquisition as a “local caregiver of the people.” Hofmann had, and continues to have, a devout and loyal customer base in the Syracuse and central New York area. It’s been headquartered there since it began, and according to Bailey, will always be headquartered there. The ability to maintain the local favorite and caregiver to the community quality while taking the company national has played a major role in Hofmann Brands’ success, Bailey says.
“The interesting part is that Rusty and his family built a phenomenal business for 133 years,” Bailey says. “We’re very privileged to come in and have the opportunity to grow that business nationally.”
Since the acquisition, many changes have been made. Hofmann’s has launched new products, expanded its foodservice business and restaurant concept, a Phil Romano creation called Hofmann Hots. “The restaurant was in place in Dallas for two years and we knew that we had to make room for some residential, so we tore it down,” Bailey says. “Now we’re looking to redistribute that into a franchise model through either our food trucks or brick and mortar locations.”
In addition to its own restaurant brand, Hofmann’s has considerably ramped up other foodservice accounts and its retail customer base as well. With new offices in the Baltimore/Washington, DC, area to facilitate its new growth, the company has secured a number of foodservice customers in that area.
Since the current investment team acquired the company, it’s increased the amount of product in retail outlets by seven times, according to Bailey. “We’re in thousands of grocery stores now, which is not a testament to me, but to the entire team that has worked so tirelessly to ensure that we continue to put out quality product.” Bailey stresses the importance of quality as the company’s No.1 goal and attributes Hofmann’s success in both retail and foodservice to that goal.
Hofmann now provides foodservice products to The Verizon Center in Washington, DC, the Univ. of Maryland and Under Armour’s corporate cafeteria as well as venues farther west. The company has partnered with Pizza Forte, the Hard Rock Casino and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “So Hofmann, unlike before we acquired the company, is starting to gain a lot of traction in the foodservice world,” Bailey says.