A Brief History of Our Business
Growing up in the cattle business, my father and I always processed out own animals at our home ranch in Dos Palos. We would make sausage and cook for large company events. When the family sold out of the cattle business in 1987, I pursued self employment. I purchased and started "Wolfsen's West Side Locker Plant" in March of 1988. I bought the building and the business from the previous owner who trained me in custom meat processing.
West Side Locker started back in the 1940s and has always been a custom processing plant. With the help of my father we continued to do mainly custom work, locker rentals, and some private catering. Back then it was not unusual to process over 150 head of animals from the spring fair in Los Banos and up to 400 head of wild game in a season! Processing meant custom cutting, wrapping, curing, smoking, and making specialty sausages and jerky out of these animals.
In 1990 we began to remodel and opened a retail meat and sausage business, which would now put us under a weekly California State inspection. We began with about 20 kinds of sausage, and as years passed we would end up with over 60 kinds of fresh and smoked sausages for our customers to purchase. Our jerky, hot sandwiches, and Saturday BBQ were also rising in popularity.
We continued to upgrade the building and refrigeration, working very hard at building up all aspects of our business. We began to develop a high number of out-of-town customers from as far north as San Francisco and as far south as Fresno. As our walk in business grew, we still continued to process animals and rent out space in our freezer. Because of higher electrical bills and concerns for cross contamination of inspected and uninspected meats (wild game and ranch butchered animals), we began to phase out of custom processing and storage rental in 2002. We then cut our freezer space in half and took out all of the lockers, which helped to cut our high electrical bills and made our weekly inspection less stressful. We then shifted our main focus to sausage production, fresh and cured meats, and jerky sales. This combined with our catering made sure that we stayed very busy! Wolfsen's was then open seven days a week.
Back in October of 1995, we started our annual Open House Sausage Tasting, which has been great for public relations. We put up flyers and send out invitations to our customers to come and taste all of our sausages free of charge. It's always a massive hit! What began as a small inhouse tasting serving between 70-200 people developed into a bigger event with every passing year. We were interviewed by AAA's Via Magazine and featured in their Aug/Sept 2004 issue, which further resulted in very high numbers at our tastings. We had to have part of a city street blocked off and put up a large tent. We currently estimate that we serve over 1600 people during our four hour event. We've also been featured in stories in the Modesto Bee, Merced Sun Star, and other publications. Wolfsen's Sausage has come to be well known throughout the state.
We have future plans to start in-state shipping, however the recent fires have put a huge damper on things. We truly believe that we will continue to become bigger and better! We are also looking into building a new facility, which we feel will increase productivity and allow us to be more power efficient. Since we are inspected by the California Department of Food and Agriculture on a weekly bases, a new facility would help ensure a safer environment for our products.
Thank you for your time,Sincerely,
Vance, Donna, & Warren