Selling the experience
May 6, 2013
by Steve Krut
Texas may be best known for its barbecue and even in the German-influenced community of New Braunfels, meat is still king. Granzin’s Meat Market seems to rule the kingdom.
Located about 25 miles north of San Antonio, Granzin exemplifies the reputation of the Lone Star State for doing things on a big scale. The family owned enterprise fills its 153-ft.-long, glass meat case with everything and anything in the world of meat, and staffs that retail case with as many as 18 employees to serve up their popular products to the teeming shoppers.
Coming into the store on a Saturday is as close as any in the meat industry can come to witnessing a feeding frenzy.
President Gary Granzin, who has to compete with such supermarket giants as the HEB grocery chain, offers up the key to his market’s success:
“We simply want to give our customers the highest-quality meats at good prices,” Gary Granzin says.
Perhaps missing in this statement is a partial description of the vast array of products available to their customers. When it comes to beef, shoppers can choose from Prime, Choice or Select. Pork is available in fresh cuts, but also in the form of baby-back ribs, fresh or fully cooked, along with a staggering choice of bacons, hams, skins, hocks, whole heads, chops, roasts and marinated selections.
When it comes to sausage, there is seemingly nothing unavailable. Brats, Italian, bier, garlic, chorizo, boudin, boerewors, Polish, liver, spicy, knackwurst, leberkäse, grobe, weisswurst and many poultry sausages make the selection process a daunting task. The true inventory would be pages long.
Cheeses come in dozens of varieties and fresh shrimp from the Gulf are poured into the open cases in a fashion reminiscent of a bucket brigade. This is scale-meat marketing on a very big scale.
Gary, who grew up on a farm in nearby Marion, is quick to share the credit with brothers Mark, the vice president, Michael, the secretary treasurer, sister Michele, the accounts manager, and daughter, Amanda.
When the Granzin family bought out the 80-year-old Rahe Packing Company in 1981, they capitalized on their experience operating a small meat market and bakery in San Antonio, and set up shop in New Braunfels and saw their enterprise grow to 80 employees (up to 100 at peak times) in their 20,000-sq.-ft. shop.
They pulled in sausage-maker Mike Cox from the Chicago area 18 years ago and soon delicate Old World wurst aromas were floating around the retail store and unusual (for Texas) products like authentic Black Forest hams began appearing and were quickly lifting the shop’s reputation to an even higher level.
“If we decided to do something, we wanted to do it right,” Gary emphasizes. From the décor, to the selections, to the pricing and quality, the store promotes and exudes an atmosphere among shoppers akin to those wanting to get their picks in an hour before a record Mega Ball lottery drawing.
Everything is thought through and done on a massive scale. Deer processing, for example, is not deer processing in your normal way. Granzin’s processes a mind-boggling 7,000 deer per year. Their deer drop-off area is almost like a boutique Bass Pro Shop, offering everything in knives, clothing, compound bows and accessories for the sportsman. Outside, they have a line-up of smokers and even a huge tree blind measuring perhaps 20 feet in circumference and retailing at more than $4,000.
Yet, it is their quality and variety of custom-made game products that brings them in and brings them back. They handle wild boars, elk, red stag, Nilgai and other exotics and offer 25-lb. minimum orders for pan and link sausage, summer sausage, salami, buck sticks, hot links, dry sausage with cheese or jalapeño and more, including jerky and hams. They also have drop-off locations in the nearby towns of Seguin and Pleasanton.
“When dad built the location in New Braunfels, we were in a good position because everyone in the family worked at the business,” Gary says.
Hotel-restaurant-institutional sales represent about 15 percent of their total sales, but they are currently de-emphasizing it. With as many as 1,300 customers a day coming into the market, it’s not hard to see why they are putting even more emphasis on what they do best. Much of their fresh product is sold to a cousin who operates a local catering business.
Despite the huge crowds that frequent the retail area, the business is spotless, from the store area to the processing rooms. Racks of mahogany-colored smoked sausages are rolled out to the retail counter area, letting their customers know it’s made right there in the market.
Plenty of folks come in for lunch to-go, enjoying fresh cuts of meats and cheeses packed into even fresher breads. They might opt for specialties like chili or stew or the barbecue. But no matter the fare, the volume is blistering, with as many as 100 sandwiches a day sold at lunchtime.
Holidays are not a slack-time either, employees gear up preparing special meat and cheese platters and trays.
“People come in here asking for something and we do our best to try and accommodate them,” Gary explains. “When we first took over, we did some advertising in the local paper. Now we do very little. Word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers have been our best advertising for the past 30 years. We’ve had a web- site (www.granzinsmeatmarket.com) for the past six years.
“We are very strong on our donations to churches, groups like Hunters for the Hungry, dinners for the needy, turkey donations and the Heart of Hope in our community, and the local schools,” he adds.
Gary points out that the value in “taking care of our customers” is paramount to their business anthem and that they provide in-house training to all of their employees. He explains that 75 percent of their employees have been with Granzin’s Meat Market for 20 years or more and that there is nothing more important than giving the customer your full attention.
A stop at Granzin’s is more than an education for those in the meat business. It is a fun and exciting experience that anyone paying attention could conceivably duplicate… perhaps on a smaller scale.