Dec. 13, 2017
by Steve Krut
The Salsbury family moved to Florida for a change of scenery 40 years ago, and never left.
Many Northerners move to the warmer climate of Florida over the winter and return home in the spring and summer months. They are bestowed with the title of “Snow Birds.” This is a story about a Northern family in the meat business that went to Florida and stayed. They could be called the “Meat Birds,” but they don’t have any plans of moving back north.
A little over 40 years ago, Edwin Salsburg closed his 100-head-per-week packing plant in Shillington, Pennsylvania, and moved to Florida. He and his wife Sophy wanted to remain in the meat and food business and took over a former tomato sauce plant just off Interstate 95 in Hollywood. Their plan was to buy from local producers and sell a large variety of fresh products at affordable prices.
Their son Paul had just returned from military service in Vietnam. Because he and his brother Bill had worked around the original family meat business since they were kids, they came in to help rekindle the family business, now called Penn Dutch Retail Food Center, in the Sunshine State.
Bill took on the fresh meats end of things. Paul tackled the sausage and processed meats arena. A younger brother Rick, an electrical engineer, came on board to get the cooling, refrigeration and freezing equipment into top shape and keep it that way.
“This is an area that experiences hurricanes on a regular basis,” Paul says, “so having generators and alternative power systems has proven critical over the years. We’ve never lost a cooler of meats.”
That’s quite a statement that held true even recently after Hurricane Irma struck their area in late August.
“We were able to heed the advanced warning and empty all the meat cases and products that needed to be kept cold,” he adds. “Customers don’t stock up on perishables when a storm is imminent. We were closed for a few days and when our customers started to regain electrical power, we restocked the cases and began experiencing a very busy week of sales.”