Wenneman Meat Co.
Tragic Fire Opens Door for Growth-Oriented Processing Solutions

Wenneman Meat Company doesn’t miss a beat. They define resilience. The St. Libory, IL, based wholesale meat distributor overcame a devastating plant fire in 2011 that forced them to completely rebuild their facility. The "failure is not an option" attitude of third generation owners Brad Schmitz and Paul Otten practically ordained that Wenneman Meat would come back better and stronger. After losing everything to the flames of one cold winter’s night, Wenneman quickly retrenched and began creating its future.

Wenneman sells a wide array of premium quality meats, deli, processed meats, and seafood to hundreds of restaurants and supermarkets in surrounding states. In addition, the company serves hometown customers through its classic, 85 year old butcher shop. But with the fire, the company lost its plant, not its business. Seizing the opportunity to weigh every option and examine the entire operation as a blank slate was empowering in some ways. The watchword for equipping the new plant was optimal efficiency in every aspect, to support not only the thriving regional business, but new growth foreseen by the aggressive management team.

Fundamental to Wenneman’s extensive product line are popular processed meats like bologna, hot dogs, and coarse ground Polish emulsions. So the choice of the new emulsifying system had to be spot on. They turned to a trusted business partner, TIPPER TIE, for a solution. "We’ve dealt with TIPPER TIE for years and they have stood behind everything we’ve bought from them," said Paul Otten. After an initial testing period, they chose the TTCut125H, with its non metal-to-metal cutting system that produces up to 2,600 pounds per hour of high quality product. The cutting versatility, high efficiency, and operator friendliness of the TTCut125H are such that it has become an integral piece in the development of new Wenneman’s products like liver sausage and lightly smoked Braunschweiger. Unlike a grinder, the 125H precisely cuts all emulsions, delivering defined particle sizes from coarse to fine cuts as small as .2mm. This heightened level of consistency routinely creates uniform product quality for Wenneman’s deli products. "The cut has been very consistent and the temperature of the product exiting the machine has been really good," said Paul Otten. "I would recommend this machine for processors like us. It’s compact and we get the extra throughput, but at a reasonable price compared to big emulsifiers. It’s also a very sturdy machine, at a good working height to dump product into." Fast and easy cleanup and relatively low sound levels were additional advantages to the TTCut125H.

As the plant’s processing backbone, Wenneman has linked the 125H with a TIPPER TIE KDCMA400 automated double clipper to maintain throughput at its maximum. The versatile KCDMA400 delivers consistent, quality packages for Wenneman’s ground beef chubs, several types of summer sausage, Krakow chubs, cooked sausage chubs, deer salami, and 5lb. chubs of taco filler. When asked what he likes most about the KDCMA, Paul said, "How much money it makes me. It saves us so much labor. We buy 2 x 18 summer sausage casings. We used to slide them onto a horn, stuff it, and clip the sausage by hand, one at a time. When you need to produce 200,000 lbs. of deer sausage in six weeks and can only run about 700 lbs/hour, that is a lot of work. We would have a large crew working until 11:00 every night of the week to get it done. Now we’re done in normal working hours, running 2500 lbs/hour. On an average, the KDCMA produces at least 8000 lbs. per week all year. During deer season, it can do 100,000 lbs. per week. The speed really surprised me. The KDCMA has been one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. We’ve already recommended it to several of our peers, several of whom have come here to see it run."

With its new emulsifier and clipper, Wenneman has made good on its pledge to optimize operational efficiency by automating cutting, emulsifying, stuffing, and clipping. This enables Wenneman to continue delivering premium quality meats to its loyal customers.