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Robert Winner Sons Inc.: A Family Business Producing Quality Meats
Robert Winner Sons Inc. (RWS) has been named the top butcher shop in Ohio’s Darke County for three years running. To uphold the prestigious reputation, RWS raises livestock in addition to being a quality supplier of meat in the western Ohio region.
Robert Winner founded RWS in 1928 slaughtering hogs and cattle in a barn and processing the meat for local people. As demand for processed meats developed, Robert expanded operations to offer slaughter services to area farmers. RWS soon became a family affair, as Robert’s five sons became involved with the company, which later expanded into its current plant facility.
The business was incorporated after moving to its current designation in 1962. The Winner brothers also made the move to add a small grocery store and meat market, allowing the family to sell RWS products. As the third generation joined the business, Brian Winner, Robert’s grandson and president of RWS, first became involved the family’s retail operations. Brian jokes that he gets to handle all the company headaches now, but he truly enjoys being a part of the family business.
“This is really the only place I have ever worked,” says Brian. “I started working in the grocery store stocking shelves at an early age. Then later, I moved outside cleaning pens and trailers, while working with livestock some. After getting my license & CDL, I started hauling livestock our company purchased from area farmers and delivering them to packers around the surrounding states. Eventually I moved back inside working in the processing plant cutting meat, and then later moved into the office working in the corporate side of the business.”
RWS, which employs an average of 75 people, has remained small; however, the company has certainly established a well-regarded reputation in the area. “Everybody knows that when they buy something from RWS they’re going to get a good product,” says Brian proudly.
Homegrown with Passion
RWS has grown significantly since Robert began the business. The company now farms over 600 acres, where RWS has the capability to raise 120 head of cattle, support 5,000 hogs in barns at several different locations, plus operate two processing plants, as well as one store where the company sells retail meats and groceries.
On one adjacent farm, RWS mixes feed for its livestock. Brian explains this helps raise the quality of the meats RWS sells because the family-run business knows what it is feeding to its animals. RWS takes pride in raising livestock and producing quality meats. “We don’t add any fillers, just good-quality meat products and seasonings,” says Brian.
In addition to Brian’s confidence, this security is part of what helped RWS receive a grant of inspection from the federal government in 2001. RWS products are now USDA-certified, which allows RWS to ship products by order across the country.
In addition to its meat and farming operation, RWS has a fleet of trucks and trailers the company calls Winner Trucking Inc. (WTI). For RWS, WTI delivers hogs and cattle of all sizes to farmers and meatpackers across 24 different states. In addition, WTI has also taken an extra step to better business, requiring all drivers to be TQA-certified to ensure the livestock will be handled both humanely and professionally while in the company’s possession.
In addition to traditional cuts of meat, RWS features a number of specialty homemade products for customers. Brian reports a popular item in the market right now is RWS’ marinated pork chops. RWS developed a marinade to marinate the pork chops in so customers could buy the meat ready for the grill or to bake. “They are fabulous,” he adds.
The company is also proud of the hot dogs and sausages offered. RWS only uses the highest quality meats and creates interesting combinations for the sausage line. In 2012 RWS’s summer sausage was dubbed the Grand Champion at the Ohio Association of Meat Processors Products Competition. RWS has also won some awards at the national level, as well.
The Fourth Generation Takes RWS Modern
A recent overhaul of the RWS website has enabled the company to allow customers the convenience of ordering products online. RWS ships products on a weekly basis to random states across the country.
“We’ve been shipping a lot of products lately,” says Brian. “We’re pretty busy with our processing, so we will have to monitor how much we sell online because we can only produce so much, but our online sales are really starting to grow.”
The latest change on the website – venturing into social media for the small, family-owned and -operated business – is fueled by the Winner’s fourth generation. According to Brian, the next generation is increasingly becoming involved with RWS operations. In addition to the new website, the upcoming Winner clan is helping to expand RWS’ web presence through social media, including Facebook and Twitter outlets.
“Everybody seems to fall in to place,” says Brian. “We try to incorporate family members with what positions are available and where they would be a good fit for our company.”
Brian admits having family continue to lead the business is good for RWS, because the market for experience meat cutters is small. “We’re a small company competing with bigger companies locally,” he says. “There are only certain amounts of people that are interested in working in the meat business. It’s hard work and takes skill and a persistence to learn to cut meat. It’s a trait you just do not learn overnight, and in which takes years to master.”
As the Winner’s fourth generation becomes more integrated in the company, there seems to be no stopping this family-centered operation. For years to come, Robert Winner Sons Inc. will remain dedicated to offering quality meats and service to all customers.