In 1938, newlyweds George and Margaret Huisken purchased the Mercantile
in Chandler, Minnesota. In addition to offering groceries to neighboring farmers,
the new Huisken Mercantile carried dry goods, shoes, outerwear, and a limited supply
of hardware. A meat cutting room and cold storage locker were soon added to the
store. Huisken Meats was born. The couple was committed to carrying only the finest
merchandise, treating customers honestly and providing value for their hard-earned
dollar. That simple philosophy, which was the foundation for Huisken Mercantile,
has guided the company’s success for nearly 70 years and today remains the focus
of Huisken Meat Company.
Huisken Mercantile’s grand opening September 7, 1938 featured
women’s house dresses for 88¢; coffee for 20¢ a pound; 4 bars of soap for 19¢; men’s
sanforized shrunk overalls for 79¢ each; and a 49 lb. sack of flour for 99¢.
graduation from high school in 1961, George’s son Rod purchased the locker business.
In 1966, George Huisken died suddenly of a heart attack and Rod completed the purchase
of the business from his mother. With Rod’s leadership, the company began to grow
primarily as a custom butcher shop, processing meats for farmers in a four state
Crisis Leads to Opportunity
As personal tastes and preferences changed, Huiskens
introduced additional processed ground beef and sausage products.
to the farm crisis of the 1980’s, the demand for custom butchering declined leading
to increased interest in these new Huisken products. Customers were now familiar
with the high quality of the products and sales quickly grew. Ultimately, this led
to the official launch of the Huisken brand of products. Delivered initially via
peddle truck, the Huisken brand of products soon made its way to grocery stores.
As a result of this shift in product offerings, the company became a major regional
supplier of Huisken and RG’s branded beef and pork patties. Among the line of sausage
products offered by Huisken were smoked sausage, bratwurst, summer sausage, polish
sausage, ring bologna, German style wieners, cotto salami, Canadian style sausage,
bacon, and dried beef.
In the mid-80’s meat snack items such as kippered beef snacks,
beef sticks, and other items were introduced and sold under the Huisken and Trail’s
Best brands. The company divided into two separate divisions: Trail’s Best Company
specializing in meat snack items and the Huisken Meat Company specializing in frozen
burgers and patty items. During this period Huisken Meat Company had grown to become
a major supplier of privately labeled beef burgers for leading food distributors
throughout the nation. tornado
Chandler Tornado of 1992
On June 16, 1992 numerous
tornadoes ripped through Southwest Minnesota. Of these, one gigantic tornado that
started south of Leota and continued north through Chandler and Lake Wilson destroyed
many homes, businesses and farms resulting in one person losing her life; thirty-two
people being injured, and over 15 million dollars in damage in the Chandler area
alone. The tornado was the only F5 tornado in the United States in 1992. This storm
will forever be remembered as the Chandler Tornado of 1992. Destruction
day, Cliff Albertson, GM/COO at Huisken Meat Company, stood at the south window
of his office and watched a tornado take aim on the entire community. Thankfully,
the company had held regular tornado drills so when the call went out over the speakers,
employees knew exactly what to do… proceed to the inside beef cooler. The cooler
had been built to accommodate beef slaughtering with a roof designed to hold 60,000
lbs of hanging beef carcasses. The cooler was the safest place in the Huisken plant.
After employees were secure, the maintenance staff shut down power
and gas to the building. Soon doors were sucked open and glass from breaking windows
was flying through the plant. Nearly half the plant roof was ripped off by the tornado’s
powerful winds. When employees emerged from the cooler a few minutes later, they
found plants from the reception area blown 50 feet into the production area. Cars
in the parking lot were smashed. There were few unbroken windows to be seen.
Rebuilding a community. Soon after the tornado, an army of Huisken employees
descended the hill into town to help the local residents. Many employees were affected
by the tornado including long-time employee, Dave Holm. The Holm residence was completely
destroyed, but over the next few weeks and months, Dave Holm, the town of Chandler
and the Huisken plant began rebuilding. After only four days, the patty production
section of the plant was back in limited operation. Within a month the plant was
once again at 100% capacity.
The Introduction of Irradiated Beef Patties
on a tradition of leadership in the industry, including a focus on food safety,
Huisken Meats, in 2000, was first in the nation to offer electronically irradiated
beef patties. The process, still in use today, uses no radioactive materials to
kill food-borne pathogens such as E. Coli. Similar to the technology used in microwave
cooking, the process uses ordinary electricity to irradiate frozen beef patties
after they have been processed and packaged. As a result, harmful bacteria, should
they exist, are killed instantly.
Sauk Rapids, Minnesota
After nearly two
decades of continuous growth, the Chandler production facility was nearly bursting
at the seams. In November of 2000, the family-owned FHS, Inc. holding company that
owned Huisken Meats Inc. and Trail’s Best Snacks, Inc., purchased the current production
facility in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The following two months were used to equip
and prepare the building for the 2001 production year with the first product being
made in Sauk Rapids in January 2001. Sauk Rapids Office
The Intro In October 2001,
after over 60 years of continuous ownership, the Huisken family sold both Huisken
Meats, Inc. and Trail’s Best Snacks, Inc. in its entirety to Sara Lee Corp., a global
consumer packaged goods company. Almost precisely one year later, in October 2002,
the JNR holding company, owners of Rochester Meats acquired the Huisken patty processing
business from Sara Lee.
In August, 2007, the JNR holding company sold all its assets,
including Huisken Meat Company and Rochester Meat Company to Branding Iron Holding
Company which also owns Holten Meat Company.
Quality, Consistency, and Exceptional
With nearly 70 years of experience in meat processing, Huisken Meat Company
continues producing a line of premium quality beef patties. In addition to Huisken
and RG’s brand patties that are sold nationwide, we also supply private label patties
for some of the largest grocery wholesalers and distributors in the country. A state-of-the-art
production process and superior packaging keeps Huisken patties fresh and flavorful
from our plant to the consumer’s table.