Nicole Makowski is the fourth generation of her family to own and operate Makowski's Real Sausage Co.
Part of the extra workload comes from helping customers with product development and marketing. “We do more than just make sausage, we offer custom processing for many of our customers,” she explains. Coming up with new product formulations and recipes takes trial and error and years of practice. “Everything I’ve learned in this business has been learned hands on. I’ve learned so much working with my customers.”

Makowski has learned that quality ingredients are the key to quality product. “I like to buy by raw materials from the same suppliers so I can guarantee the product I’m producing,” she says. “It’s very easy to make high-quality product with high-quality ingredients – I can do that all-day long. But making cheap product from cheap ingredients isn’t easy. That’s not something I want to get into.”

In addition to the quality of the ingredients, product formulation depends heavily on the types and amount of each ingredient. “We can only add so much fat to a formulation and we can only add certain ingredients,” Makowski says. “Sometimes we’ll have foodservice customers who suggest a certain type of sausage filled with all sorts of ingredients that we can’t create without an adjustment to the recipe. That’s when having good customer relationships is crucial.”

Solid customer relationships and the strength of the Makowski family name has served Nicole Makowski well for the 18 years she’s been running the company, and was the bedrock of the business her great-grandfather, grandfather and father ran for eight decades before her. “The Makowski’s brand is my heart and soul,” she says. “I want to continue to push that brand and see it out in the market more. And I want to continue to help companies with product development to help them get their brands out in the market more,” she explains. “I really love what I do.”