Meat+Poultry - February 2021 - 77

Photos; Zick's Specialty Meats

I

t all started with a small grocery store in
St. Joseph, Mich. But 30 years later, Zick's
Specialty Meats has become a head-turning
dynamo in the nation's small meat processor
community.
The enterprise run by Chief Executive
Officer Garry Zick is a combination of
processing services, custom and private
labeling, retail store, mail order sales, and an
exotic meat snack line called Buffalo Bob's
Snack Foods. Each of these business segments
are operated with flair and zest.
The 10,000-square-foot meat processing
plant is the mainstay at the company's new
location in Berrien Springs, Mich., about 30
minutes from South Bend, Ind.
Zick's is an industry standout due in part to
an owner committed to coming up with new
and exciting ways to tickle the taste buds of his
customers, all while preserving generations-old
and new recipes, many that have been created
by sausage maker Terry Lorenz.
Perhaps a few examples would help explain
what seems like a dichotomy:
Zick's offers over 30 flavors of snack
sticks and jerky, and another 30 kinds of
bacon, sausages and other smoked meats. The
variety of protein sources are mind-boggling.
Of course, there are the beef and pork snack
items. But then take a quick look at the
website, zicksmeats.com, where visitors are
introduced to beef and pork treats mixed with
alligator, buffalo, elk, duck, venison, wild boar,
antelope, caribou and even kangaroo.
Normally hard-to-find specialties like
smoked linguica with red wine, authentic
Landjaeger, and other Old World type items
can be found among the bratwurst, German,
Italian and Polish sausages. The more standard
summer sausages, hot dogs, and salamis are
also available.
Zick reminisced about his childhood
working in the family grocery store in St.
Joseph where, from the age of 7, he helped out
sorting bottles and doing odd jobs.
" The store had a heavy emphasis on meats,
doing deer processing, catering and making
sausage. We had a sausage maker named Max
Wolf who came from Germany, " he said. " I
began helping him out, never realizing that
I was getting an education in meat science.
When I learned some tasks and was doing
them right, he moved me into other aspects of

making sausage and smoking meats, dried and
fermented items. "
After attending Anderson College where he
studied business, Garry and his wife Pat joined
the family business. However, in 1981, because
of injuries from his father's 1969 airplane
accident, the grocery store was sold. Zick
continued to work for the new owners but was
on the lookout for a chance to venture out on
his own. Finally, in 1983 the owner of a locker
plant wanted to sell his business, located about
15 miles away in Berrien Springs.
" I really didn't have the money and interest
rates were hovering at close to 20%, " he
reflected. " The owner agreed to help finance
it himself.
" We took out the lockers which were no
longer in vogue and turned that space into
a sausage kitchen. One of the products that
interested me was Slim Jims and it inspired me
to make something similar. I developed what
we called Zick's Sticks, a shelf-stable meat
snack stick. When I look at a meat block, I try
to imagine how many units of a product I could
get out of it. "

From left: Garrett Zick,
Garry Zick, Terry Lorenz
and Chris Blakeman
show off the rope-style
venison Zick's Sticks.

PREMIUM PARTNERSHIP
Zick and his dad Harry liked to hunt and
fish and their favorite place to buy gear was
Cabela's. In 1994, Harry was on the phone
with Cabela's ordering some fishing supplies.
www.meatpoultry.com | 02.21 | MEAT+ POULTRY

77


http://www.zicksmeats.com http://www.meatpoultry.com

Meat+Poultry - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - February 2021

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