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Pingel Processing: Small but mighty

Meat processing business in Shawano wins Reserve Grand Champion at WAMP

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May 1, 2024

SHAWANO – Small business, big gains.

That, Dani Pingel said, is the case for Pingel Processing, located at W9248 County Road A in Shawano.

The meat processing plant and retail store, which officially opened in April 2020, decided to throw its hat in the ring at this year’s Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors (WAMP) annual convention to test the waters of the competition.

And, out of 779 other products entered in, Dani said she and her husband, Dallas, found themselves taking home Reserve Grand Champion for their dill pickle patties.

The win, she said, not only proves what the small business is capable of, but where they can go in the future.

First year, first win
The Pingels said they decided to attend the WAMP annual convention in Middleton this year, just for the heck of it.

As a fairly new business, Dani said they decided to take a chance and entered their dill pickle patty into the competition, with no expectations to win.

“There were 779 products put in from more than 40 different meat markets throughout the state,” she said. “(We wanted to) get a feel for (what) the scorecards looked like and what the grand champion process looks like.”

In addition to gaining a lot of insight from viewing the product tables and what other meat processors had to offer, Dani said they gained something else, too: the Reserve Grand Champion award for their patty.

“It was a cool experience to be a part of, and winning was the icing on the cake,” she said.

Pingel’s dill pickle patty is a pork patty that has dill pickle seasoning and dill pickle chunks mixed in.

“They’re good,” she said. “A little kick to them, too, in the seasonings, but not anything overpowering.”

What makes the win even more rewarding,Dani said, is the fact that the meat shop does not have a patty machine – meaning all patties are hand-pressed by staff.

Pingel Processing took home Reserve Grand Champion for its dill pickle patties this year at the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors annual convention in Middleton. Photo Courtesy of Pingel Processing

“We’ll make 50-pound batches, and it’ll take us two to three hours to patty all that out,” she said. “(And then) you’re at the show, and you see all these huge machines – like a patty maker – and all these large vacuum stuffers‚ It’s crazy to think of all the stuff we make just with our little processing machines, and we’re able to compete on such a high level doing that.”

Dani said competing with fellow businesses that she and Dallas “admire and look up to,” continues to push the Pingel Processing team to strive to be the best.

“We were sitting there as you hear them explain their meat markets, and some of these shops are third-generation/fourth-generation meat shops and their great-great-grandpa was sitting there who had won awards many years ago,” she said. “I looked at Dallas and said, ‘you’re the first generation, how crazy is that?'”

Life-long involvement
Though Pingel Processing is only a little more than four years old, Dani said Dallas’ involvement in the industry goes back much further.

Dani said Dallas started working at a meat market when he was 14 years old, and by 18, he had the opportunity to purchase it.

The market then became Pingel’s Meats, which Dani said the family ran until about 2010.

“Once that closed, he moved on to a couple of different meat markets, and then ultimately ended up at Nueske’s,” she said.

While working at Nueske’s, Dani said they were processing deer in a machine shed on the family’s fourth-generation farm where they live.

By year three of processing wild game for people, the Pingels said they ran out of space.

“The first year, it was a couple of deer – maybe 15 – and we would cut it up and put it in freezer bags,” she said. “The third year we did it, we had more than 100 deer come through. We didn’t even have cooler space – we didn’t have the equipment to do those properly.”

Dani said they had to resort to giving everyone’s processed game in Ziploc bags and utilize any extra coolers they had to store the meat.

“(We were) saying, ‘you have an hour to come back and pick it up’ because we didn’t even have a fridge,” she said.
After that third season, Dani said she looked at Dallas and said, “Is there a reason you don’t want to get back into it? Is this something you’d be open to?”

“We hashed it over and decided to renovate the inside of the machine shed into what it is today,” she said.

In April 2020, after renovating the space and adding a retail store in the building – called Red River’s Meat Market – the couple officially launched Pingel Processing.

When the Pingels first started the business, Dallas said they originally planned to focus on its mobile slaughter unit, which allowed them to go directly to customers for service.

“We did that for one year, and it booked up within two weeks,” he said. “We were booked out for the whole year.”

The retail store, Dallas said, was even busier – something they didn’t expect.

“We had to give up the on-farm slaughtering so we could all be back here focusing on retail,” he said.

Goods and services
Red River’s Meat Market, the Pingels said, offers a plethora of different meat options – including smoked sausage items: such as summer sausage, snack sticks, ring sausages, sandwich meats, jerky and other smoked specialties.

The market, Dani said, also offers several different varieties of pork bratwurst, all-beef bratwurst, chicken and turkey bratwurst, breakfast sausage and flavored patties.

The retail shop, she said, even offers a variety of Mrs. Ping’s frozen pizzas, which are handmade by the staff.

Pingel Processing also offers its own handmade pizzas. Photo Courtesy of Pingel Processing

The garbage pizza, which Dani said features Italian sausage, sauerkraut, jalapeño poppers and three different kinds of cheese, is a fan favorite.

On top of the retail portion of the business, Dani said Pingel still does game processing.

“We take in about 1,000 deer a year, give or take,” she said. “To handle that many deer is not an easy feat.”

Dani said Pingel Processing also takes in wild game scraps and quartered venison.

“That allows us to work on making sausage through the wintertime,” she said.

Pingel Processing also offers meat bundles, which can be found at

Future plans
With Pingel Processing’s fifth anniversary approaching, Dani said there are many plans in the works to continue to make the business the best it can be.

“There’s been talks about possible expansion and/or moving our facility to a larger area,” she said. “Nothing is set in stone as of yet.”

Dani and Dallas said their son will be graduating from high school this year and has decided to join the family business – which means the Pingels are in the process of introducing the next generation.

“If our kids weren’t interested, would it be worth expanding?” Dani said. “With Axyl joining and wanting to be a part of this, I think that was the push Dallas needed to say, ‘let’s grow.'”

She said Pingel Processing also continues to grow its product lines as well, which wouldn’t be possible without support from the community.

“Their support is what’s gotten us to where we are,” she said. “Their support has given us the encouragement to even try to put awards in at WAMP‚ it means a lot to small businesses.”

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