Moms Wilson
Sam Snavley (middle) is the next generation of the Wilson family to take part in the family business. 

Next generation

Sam Snavley, 37, is the next generation to join the team. The son of Dennis and Sue, Sam came on board after earning a degree in public relations and spending a decade in the banking industry.

When queried about the difference between banking and meat retailing, Sam fielded the question like an All Star: “In banking, you just punched in and punched out. It just ran itself and you did what you were told to do. Here, I get to work much longer hours for much less money. But it’s coming home and being part of what our family has always been, working together, making wonderful products that we know will make customers happy. That’s what makes me tick.

“When you think that my wife Jillian and our three daughters live on the same farm our family has been on for six generations, it makes you think why would you want to be anyplace else. Now if any of your readers have young boys who like meat processing, I’d invite them to contact me in about a dozen years to keep this meat business going for a long time into the future.

“When you asked Dad about titles, we really didn’t think in those terms – we are all CEOs, janitors, processors, office people, service counter helpers, and do anything we can. It’s called working together.”

When Sam came into the business, he brought computer and accounting skills to upgrade some of the store’s management activities. The company website was designed by the son of a friend of Dennis. That company is also a small family business.

Keep it simple

The product line-up is kept very simple at Mom Wilson’s. They might make only three flavors of brats most days, but over the summer offer them in patty form for easier grilling. Their hams and bacons are characteristic of flavor preferences in the area, heavily smoked. Their recognition of what local customers and passers-by on Route 23 are seeking is key to the shop’s success.

“Items like scrapple and pan pudding that we made for years have declined in popularity over the years,” Sue says. “We’ve come up with good quality jerky, snack sticks and sausages and are not afraid to try something new. Our research and development design is a group of employees experimenting with some new flavors or seasonings and tasting it and deciding to see if customers like it.”

One of their top sellers is a cracker sausage that is reminiscent of summer sausage, but made with honey and pepper cheese. It doesn’t contain crackers but is designed for eating with them.

Over the years, Mom Wilson’s has given up on their canning operation, when they cold-packed beef, pork and even mincemeat for sale. The constant need for inspection ruled it not worthwhile from a time or expense point of view.

But lest anyone think this diminutive meat retail shop too simple to make an impression, take a look at their recent showing in the Ohio Association of Meat Processors cured meats competition in February, when Mom’s took home four grand championships, a reserve grand championship, a first place award and a big prize in the innovative product category for their cracker sausage.

Like McDonald’s, which many years ago never sought the breakfast trade or even offered a drive-in window, Mom Wilson’s thought twice about a standing decision to be open only from October through May and devoting the family labor to working on the farm during the busy season. They are now open year round, much to the delight of locals and the 30,000 motorists a day who long to find out what meat treasures that long string of enticing road signs will lead them to discover.