This month, Cher-Make Sausage Company is celebrating its 90th year in business. This locally-owned company has its roots in Manitowoc where three generations of family have held fast to high standards of authentic Wisconsin sausage manufacturing.
The company was founded in 1928 when Emil and Regina Chermak opened a small butcher shop on the north side of Manitowoc. Emil had been employed in a butcher shop previously and with the skill and knowledge he had gained, decided he was ready to run his own shop. As the demand for their natural casing wieners, ring bologna and summer sausage grew, his son, Art, would deliver their small-batch, handmade sausages to neighboring towns and stores.
Due to the company’s high standards and commitment to using only quality fresh meats, signature spice blends and hardwood smoke, Cher-Make grew rapidly and in 1938 expanded into a manufacturing plant located in downtown Manitowoc.
In the mid-forties, Art Chermak returned home from serving in WWII. He decided he would do what he loved: to continue in the family tradition of making high quality, authentic Wisconsin sausages. The company relocated to a new, larger location in Manitowoc in 1944—which is where the company has its manufacturing facility today.
In 1950, Art Chermak entered a partnership with family member, Merlyn Hoefner. Through Merlyn’s guidance the brand grew even more rapidly and in the mid-sixties the company expanded into private labeling summer sausage for holiday gift packers in Wisconsin. This new business channel established the need for the company to earn a Grant of USDA Inspection. In 1968, the plant was approved as a USDA-certified processing facility which would allow distribution of their sausages nationwide.
In 2001, Art was named to the Wisconsin Meat Industry’s Hall of Fame for his participation in establishing the current USDA guidelines for shelf-stable summer sausage.
Today, Cher-Make products continue to be sold throughout North America, including Canada and Mexico, under numerous brands names—along with distribution of its own brand in the Midwest. Art’s son, Tom Chermak, Merlyn’s son, Chuck Hoefner, and Merlyn’s son-in-law, Bill Becker, lead the company and continue in the same traditions that brought their families much success. Products are still made, packaged, and shipped from their Manitowoc facility which has had numerous additions throughout the years. Their sausages can also be found at the concession stands of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the University of Wisconsin Badgers, and the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders.
“90 years in business—it’s quite an accomplishment. For a company to have that kind of longevity, with three generations of family running the operation, is pretty rare these days. I believe our success is due to our refusal to comprise on quality standards, ingredients and processes that make great tasting sausage! These values are what our fathers have passed along to us, which we still honor today,” said Tom Chermak, President of Cher-Make Sausage Company.
Chermak continued, “We’d like to thank the many families, employees and customers that have grown alongside us—working together and enjoying our products for all these years. You all are a big part of our success. We will continue to commit ourselves to meeting your needs with handmade products that are authentic, great tasting, and support a healthy lifestyle, but never sacrifice quality. With our commitment to our product and our people, we can only go up from here.”
Source: Cher-Make Sausage Co.