In this issue of Independent Processor, we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of two institutions in the meat industry. First is the company on the cover, Dietz & Watson. Gottlieb Dietz was a restaurant owner and a sausagemaker in Germany and came to America to ply his trade in a new country. He took over William Watson’s ham business, and the rest is history. Today, the company is a relative rarity as a privately held deli manufacturer that more than holds its own in the deli case against some of the biggest names in the meat industry.

After visiting the company’s Philadelphia plant and talking with the family members, it’s clear that the family takes tremendous pride in producing top-quality deli meats. Ruth Dietz, Gottlieb’s daughter, started working in the business, along with her sister Laura, in 1942, when she was 14 years old. She’s still coming into the office every day… when she’s not traveling and promoting the product at grocery stores. You don’t spend more than 70 years coming to work unless you’re truly passionate about what you do.

The second anniversary is courtesy of the American Association of Meat Processors, which is holding its 75th Annual Convention in Milwaukee, Wis., on June 19-21. The largest national convention for small meat processors, the AAMP show is an important gathering for small processors. A surprising amount make it a family event as well, so I’m certain there are people who can say they have attended most of the 75 conventions, from childhood to adulthood.

Obviously, success is a requirement of such longevity. Back in 1939, if the ham wasn’t any good or the meeting was a waste of time, we wouldn’t be having these celebrations today. However, there’s more to it than that, as there have been plenty of successful businesses that have come and gone in the last 75 years. It also takes dedicated individuals to carry that success from one generation to the next. It’s not an easy road, for a company or an organization, to find those leaders. These celebrations, then, are a tribute not only to the founders and the current executives, but everyone along the way who lent their talents to keeping a good thing going. The meat industry as a whole is stronger for their efforts.


Sam Gazdziak