In one of the most successful areas for small meat processors in America, meat lovers can find Hoesly’s Meats, a second-generation family owned and operated company that is well known for doing everything well.
Located in New Glarus, Wis., about 20 miles south of Madison, with just 2,700 residents, the thriving enterprise is centered around its custom processing trade and award-winning products, many of them themed with a Swiss heritage.
Co-owner Dusten Hoesly said he is most proud of the fact that the business remains focused on what it does best and in maintaining the tradition that everything it does, it does well.
“After my grandfather Cloyance and my father Dennis had worked at other family-run meat companies for years, they decided to run their own custom processing business, doing slaughter on the farm for local livestock producers,” he explained. “That was in 1983 and 10 years later they built a new facility in the industrial park within the New Glarus city limits.
“Many of the product recipes they learned from an immigrant master sausage maker named Alfred Wiess, whose Swiss meat processing concepts, with a strong emphasis on using veal, helped boost the new business to produce an enviable array of high-quality and popular retail meats.”
Ventures into catering were later abandoned by Hoesly’s Meats with all the emphasis put on custom processing, game processing and building a greater variety of value-added meat items.
“We knew what we had in our limited resources of family members and employees to keep the lights on, and the doors open, and we could not have our employees working six days a week,” Hoesly added. “We wanted to give them a comfortable pay scale and time off for their families. Some of these loyal employees have been with us for nearly 30 years. The work is not easy, but to succeed we needed to remain loyal to our own workers.”
The company operates under Wisconsin state inspection and serves farmers and livestock producers for about a 50-mile radius. While there are some who bring their animals in from as many as 100 miles away, the Hoesly family wanted to be and remain an integral part of being a dependable partner in the agricultural chain in their area.
Hoesly estimates that about 85% of his business is custom processing, yet its small but eye-opening retail area is a storybook guide to the flavors, aromas and tastes those meats can become. With a desire to serve the ever-changing and demanding customer requests for top quality meats, he took the first two-year Master Meat Crafter course offered by the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
The finished product line offered at Hoesly’s is among the most varied available. In addition to their Grand Champion award for their old-fashioned wieners at the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors cured meats competition, they’ve earned awards for braunschweiger, jerky, Swiss mushroom brats and smoked brats.
The meat case also features a large selection of Swiss-style sausage and brats, along with a popular farmer bologna, fine bologna, landjaeger, summer sausage, cervala, a variety of bratwurst, cooked pork, Italian, potato, beer, Cajun, pizza, tailgater, veal, smoked and smoked cheddar, buffalo chicken and Philly cheese brats.
Add to those offerings schublig (cervalat), a beef-based glorified bologna (as Hoesly calls it), honey wieners and so much more that is featured on the company website, hoeslysmeats.com. He advised that one of the best sellers is a Swiss Kalberwurst, a veal and pork sausage made with milk and crackers.
Products are available both fresh and frozen. At the retail counter, customers can order hearty sandwiches for lunch.
As expected, the fresh meat case, complete with hand cut to order service, is a feast for the meat eater’s dreams, replete with everything from prime rib and beef steaks to pork loins and ribs, as well as specialty cuts.
When his parents Dennis and Lillian opened the business in 1983, they planned ahead for Dusten and his sister Devon Kammerud to join them as co-owners. And yes, the parents still come into the plant about four or five days a week to help with the business that now has grown to 15 employees in addition to family members on board.
The company does no formal advertising, but their reputation has not only retail customers, but also local restaurants clamoring for their products. When they were approached by a local Future Farmers of America chapter wanting the shop to assist in a fundraising project, they came up with a gift box program in which the FFA group took orders and Hoesly’s produced boxes of their summer sausage, hot dogs and bratwursts for those customers. They’ve also done events for area churches that called upon the company to supply about 1,600 brats.
When we said that the family remains focused on what they do best, it also means they’ve devoted their working hours to business and haven’t competed in cured meats product competitions for several years. Dusten, as business-minded as a 43-year-old could be, explained that philosophy:
“We entered in the past and through our awards proved that our products were very good. We’re satisfied with that, and our customers know our meats and services are top-shelf. Time is a tough commodity. You can’t get back what you’ve lost in that department. Don’t get me wrong, the competitions are a great way to learn from others and prove your products against the rest, but where we are now in today’s world, there just isn’t time to do that.”
As evidence, he pointed out that his animal processing business is already totally booked for all of 2022. The firm also does private labeling of some products for livestock producers.
Hoesly’s sources its livestock from local markets, and utilizes Angus and Holstein cattle, which are in good supply in that area.
Big game season also makes the shop a preferred processing location for sportsmen who can have their deer processed into anything from venison bacon, snack sticks, summer sausage, jerky, fresh or smoked wieners, or into several varieties of brats. The meat processor estimates they handle about 700 deer annually.
When it comes to equipment, Dusten voiced his perspective that they have been adding new machinery as they see their older equipment aging out and not having much more service time available. The company just replaced a Rollstock machine about a year ago. They also operate three smokehouses at the plant.