Wenzel’s Farm: Building a year-round business
By Kris Leonhardt
Harry C. Wenzel was born in the city of Colby in 1898 and a few years later came with his father to Marshfield, where the Wenzels later established themselves in the veal business.
After the death of his father, Wenzel took over the business’ operations.
As a conscientious employer, he searched for a way to provide year-round employment for his staff. Though the veal business offered steady employment through the months of September to April, Wenzel longed for a suitable fill-in industry to provide work in the offseason.
In 1949 Wenzel remodeled the family farm’s dairy barn to get his business into the sausage making trade. The first sausage was sold in August of that year, and soon the business was producing bologna, casing wieners, liver sausage, and braunsweiger.
This sideline business flourished, and in 1951 the Wenzels discontinued veal slaughtering operations and began expanding sausage production while distributing their products.
In 1957 the business was incorporated as Harry C. Wenzel and Sons Inc. while marketing its sausage as Wenzel’s Farm Sausage.
One year later the Wenzels ceased purchasing veal and focused solely on sausage production.
Many of the recipes the company used dated back to Wenzel family sausage making in Germany as well as the German sausage makers that they employed.
By 1966 the Wenzel family had four distribution trucks on 10 routes. During the summer fair months, the company produced nearly 250,000 hot dogs per week.
In 1967 the company reported $783,000 in gross sales in a fiscal year while processing 1,425,000 pounds of product. The 160-acre farm purchased from Marshfield pioneer physician H.A. Lathrop and originally set up as a peppermint farm was reduced to a 20-acre lot that held the Wenzel sausage facilities. The company now had a total of 30 year-round employees.
In 1968 Harry C. Wenzel and Sons was honored for its booming sausage business by the Marshfield Chamber of Commerce, being designated as Firm of the Year.
Three years later, Wenzel passed away after a lingering illness at the age of 73.
Next week: Bumping up production