Meat+Poultry - August 2018 - 87

Lake Geneva Country
Meats works to satisfy
today's Amazonminded consumers
BY S T E V E K RU T | m e a t p o u l t r y @ s o s l a n d.c o m


hen you are a small meat
business in a small town that
gets a heavy influx of 'big
city' customers, you have to do things a bit
differently. It is that understanding that keeps
Lake Geneva Country Meats in Lake Geneva,
Wisconsin, a cut above most of its competitors.
Nick Vorpagel, manager and vice president
of business development, and the one in
charge of all things digital at the 53-year-old
processing company, says his toughest task is
trying to meet customer expectations.
"People will come in asking for things we
do not have, and we need to be able to explain
why we do not provide a large selection of
grass-fed meats," he says as an example. "Some
will tell us that they can get it from Amazon
in 24 hours. But when we can let them know
why we've selected our fresh and processed
meat products, how they are prepared, other
positive attributes about them and why our
line-up may have significant benefits for them,
they realize we know what we're talking about
and they will listen."
It's not that the 15,000-sq.-ft. business
doesn't offer alternatives for most tastes. They
make over 30 varieties of bratwurst (including
portabello mushroom and swiss and cherry brat
versions). They have also racked up hundreds
of plaques and awards in state, national and
international cured meats competition, and
have been featured in "Discover Wisconsin," a
state-wide television program.
But Vorpagel contends that you can't
do all things for all people when you are on
a shoestring budget. "We have to put our
emphasis on making superior products and
offering the best customer service. Since the
current plant location was purchased in 1967,
we've gone through expansion programs 13
times...something that says we may be on the
right path."

Vorpagel is the grandson of the late John and
Rita Leahy, who founded the company next to
the family farm in 1965. The Leahys laid the
foundation for the business and developed it
to the point where they were inducted into the
Wisconsin Meat Hall of Fame in 2003. A major
expansion of the highway in front of the plant
resulted in the demolition of the family farm
and increased traffic much closer to a fourlane highway.
His father Scott Vorpagel, company
president and CEO, married his mother Kathy,
a second-generation member of the Leahy meat
family. She serves as retail manager for Lake
Geneva Country Meats.
Vorpagel worked summers at the meat
business in his younger years, earned a
degree in political science and began law
school. He quit law school when he found
that he was better suited to work for the
family business.
"I liked food, working with the folks in the
family business, and dealing with customers,"
he reflects. "I was always involved with some
project at the plant. It seems those projects
never stopped for me, but they all centered
on listening to customers and thinking how to
make things better for them."
At 31, Vorpagel has tackled assignments like
marketing and advertising, community projects,
sales, pricing and new account development.

Lake Geneva Country
Meats offers more than
30 varieties of bratwurst.

"I liked food,
working with
the folks in
the family
business, and
dealing with


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - August 2018