Kowalski's celebrates 95 years
Aug. 4, 2015
by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
Kowalski Companies plans to upgrade its processing capabilities and expand its distribution.
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – Historic Detroit sausage maker, Kowalski Companies, Inc., is celebrating its 95th anniversary with facility upgrades, market expansion and hiring increases. An estimated 2,000 employees over several generations have worked with the family-owned, Michigan-based food producer.
Over the next five years, Kowalski’s plans to hire an estimated 200-plus employees as well as improve its production facilities with new equipment purchases. The economic impact from the various upgrades within Michigan will exceed $2 million this year alone under the leadership of Kowalski’s fourth generation, Michael Kowalski as president and CEO, and his sister, Linda Kowalski Jacob as corporate secretary. With this growth, Kowalski Companies, Inc. plans to increase its distribution to include Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Distribution is currently throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.
“‘Kowality since 1920’ is more than a motto, much more,” Kowalski says. “It’s a philosophy established by my great-grandfather, Zygmund Kowalski that includes our commitment to the area and to our employees who enable us to achieve the high quality standards of our food products for our customers. We have had many offers to sell the facility in Hamtramck, mostly from out-of-state companies, but have declined such offers because we want to stay where the roots are and give employment opportunities to those who live in the area. Kowalski is very proud to be a Michigan Made product.”
As part of its 95th anniversary celebration, as well as its commitment to the Metro Detroit and Hamtramck communities, Kowalski Companies has refurbished and relit the neon-outlined sausage sign featuring the family name which has identified its Holbrook Avenue headquarters facility since the 1940s.
The Kowalski story started when Agnes and Zygmund Kowalski emigrated from Poland to America in search of a better life in the early 1900s. The couple started as owners of a small grocery store on Chene Street in Detroit. They soon added a smokehouse to the store and production of Polish Kielbasa and other sausages began. Demand grew and the factory on Holbrook Avenue in Hamtramck was built in 1920.
The leadership of the Kowalski Sausage Company passed from generation to generation with Steve Kowalski, son of the founders, leading the company beginning in the 1950s and his son Ronald taking over in the 1970s. Today, the company’s leadership remains in the family with two of Ronald’s children, Michael and Linda.
The Kowalski name is synonymous with natural casing hot dogs, and fresh and smoked sausage. However, thanks to acquisitions starting in 2002 and continuing today, Kowalski’s is now known for a number of other product lines. Fifty-five varieties of Kowalski prepared food items are currently distributed throughout the Midwest via grocers and other food distribution dealers and to all 50 states through internet sales.
In 2002, the company acquired Home Style Foods, which produces a high quality salad and dip product line. . In 2011, Kowalski Companies, Inc. acquired Hamtramck, Mich.-based Dudek Foods, which specializes in handmade Pierogi and Nalesniki. The following year, it purchased Tassos Epicurean Cuisine, based in Novi, Mich., which produces a line of food items, primarily twice baked potatoes. Recent expansion in 2015 includes the addition of Consumer Guild Foods, LLC. The Toledo, Ohio-based company produces a variety of salad dressings and sauces.
Kowalski Companies brands now include Dudek, Tassos, Amhurst Kitchens, Just Sweet ’Nuff Chicken’n’Rib Sauce, Our Famous Sweet’n’Spicy Chicken’n’Rib Sauce, Yiayia’s Famous Greek Salad Dressing, Consumer Guild Supreme, Home Style Foods and The Original Hunters Sausage.