When asked about the most popular products Koegel Meats makes, John Koegel answered without hesitation: “Koegel’s natural casing Vienna frankfurters and Koegel’s Pickled Bologna. Invariably, when one of our customers moves out of Michigan, those are the Koegel products they miss most.”

John is the president of Koegel Meats Inc. and the third generation to lead the small, family-owned and family-run business in Flint, Mich.

Koegel’s was started in 1916 by Albert Koegel, John’s grandfather. Albert was born in Germany and trained in the apprenticeship program there to become a Meister Wurstmacher, or master sausage maker.

In 1912, he moved from Germany to Menominee, Wis., where he became superintendent of Twin City Packing Co. It wasn’t long before he realized his dream of opening his own sausage business. He considered moving his business west, but a salesman for Armour Foods suggested he go to Flint, where the economy was growing due to the booming automobile industry.

There he opened a small retail meat market and made sausage on the second floor. He began to distribute his sausage products throughout the area. The sausage business grew to the point that, in the early 1930s, he decided to build a sausage plant and go strictly into the wholesale meat business.

In 1972, Albert’s son built a new 80,000-square-foot manufacturing plant near Bishop Airport in Flint. This location has proven beneficial due to its proximity to interstates 75 and 69.

Koegel’s has seen many changes as it has grown and prospered. But one important element has not changed: Koegel’s natural casing products, including its Vienna frankfurters, are still made using the same recipes and processes that Albert Koegel learned and developed in Germany over a century ago. John says this is a key to the company’s success.

“Over the years, there have many pressures to make our products using a least-cost formulation, but we have done our best to stay true to the traditions learned by my grandfather,” he said. “We think products just taste better that way. Our slogan, ‘Made up to a Quality…Not down to a Price,’ says it all.”

Koegel’s benefits from its membership in the AMI in several ways. The organization is a great advocacy group for meat processors when dealing with the USDA. It continually monitors USDA activity and keeps its members abreast of any forthcoming changes. Furthermore, AMI provides various resources, education, trade show, etc., for its members.

Today, Koegel’s workforce of nearly 100 employees produces about 60 different products, which are sold almost exclusively in Michigan with a small percentage going to northwestern Ohio and South Bend, Ind. The business continues to grow as new stores and territories are added. Customers who have moved away from these areas are able to enjoy Koegel products via mail order. For a full listing of its product line, visit www.koegels.com.