The term “craftsman” is usually used to describe someone who takes a raw material and turns it into something beautiful. When I wrote about the woodworking industry, I was fortunate to write about many craftsmen – people who would take a pile of lumber and turn them into beautiful pieces of furniture.

Ed Woods is a craftsman too. In his 70-year career in the meat industry, he has created countless culinary works of art, from bacon to hams to sausage and more. Woods Smoked Meats is one of the most respected small meat businesses in the country, and Ed has won more than 600 state, national and international competitions for his smoked meat products. He was inducted into the Cured Meats Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2017.

I’ve spoken with Ed a few times over the years, and I’ve always appreciated his honesty, wisdom and approachability. He was kind enough to send me a massive 60-year-old operations manual from the National Institute of Locker and Freezer Provisioners because he know I would appreciate the history behind it. He has announced a well-deserved retirement from the meat industry, and I wish he and his wife, Regina, all the best. They are wonderful people, and I hope they fill their new free time with fun, relaxation and great memories.

It’s heartening to see that Woods Smoked Meats is being left in good hands. The new owner, HWC Meats, is made up of Mike Sloan of Hermann Wurst Haus, Cory Hawkins of Central Missouri Meat Sausage and Steve Bolton, general manager of Woods Smoked Meats. Bolton has worked in the business for 25 years, so the quality that has become the hallmark of Woods Smoked Meats is sure to continue under the new ownership.

The small meat industry has seen strong growth in recent years, and this partnership between three successful meat companies is an innovative business approach. Even in business dealings, this part of the meat industry shows no shortage n creative thinking.

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