Satzow’s grandfather was a Russian butcher and started the Claremont business in 1912. Through his grandfather and father’s years the company was a country slaughterhouse and boxed beef operation. When Satzow came to the business after college, his idea was to add as much value as possible to the meat. It was then that Satzow created North Country Smokehouse.
“We started as a mail-order business, and mail order is wonderful, but it was only three or four months out of the year back then,” Satzow says. “So, we started to sell to distributors and we were one of the first real upscale, smokehouses in the country selling to distributors who sold to white tablecloth restaurants and hotels. There were only three or four of us that were in the business at the time.”
Today, the mail order portion of the business exists, but isn’t promoted with great effort. With the new plant, North Country will keep the old plant for a yet undetermined future use; mail-order will remain a part of the overall business.
“We supply a number of mail order houses,” Satzow says, “but our own mail order has taken a backseat to the growth of the company.”
Presently, 85 percent of North Country’s business comes from foodservice. In addition to high-scale, white tablecloth restaurants and bakeries, North Country has worked with prestigious golf and tennis organizations, as well as airlines. Satzow tells a story of TWA requesting a special order peppered bacon for a customer flying with the airline. He pressed to find out who was so important that such a request would be honored. Without hesitation TWA told Satzow it was the Pope.
“The local paper had fun with it, they wrote a big headline ‘Holy Smoke,’” Satzow laughs.
North Country has plans to ramp up its retail business and has already begun to see improvements in the segment. It’s a focus of the company, and they’re on their way with quality partnerships.
“Over the last couple of years Hannaford has been a great partner for us up here in the Northeast,” Corbett says. “We’re starting to get into more Whole Foods. Right now, we’re a regional player in Whole Foods.”
H-E-B grocery stores have recently partnered with North Country, as well. They’ve taken on the company’s organic bacon and are doing very well with it, Satzow says.
“Our feeling is that people in the future might eat less meat, but they’ll eat better meat, and they’ll eat real meat, and that’s where we want to be,” Satzow says.