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St. Cloud’s Salchert Meats’ fifth owner hits five-year mark

Keeping recipes, honoring past, building for future

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February 21, 2024

ST. CLOUD — It’s not often that the same day you bring a newborn baby home is the same day you do a walk-through inspection for a new family business.

That was one such day Katie and Jeff Fuhrmann — as they took over the reins of Salchert Meats in January 2019.

Katie said she was driving through the Town of St. Cloud one day and noticed a for sale sign in front of the store — the Salchert Meats business is attached to the owner’s house.

“I said to Jeff, ‘(The owners of Salchert Meats) are selling their home — why are they selling their home?'” she said. “Jeff said, ‘They’re selling the whole thing.’ To which I responded, ‘Well, we should buy it.'”

Katie said the extent of their vetting as potential new owners included a pivotal question from the seller: “Do you know anything about food safety?”

“In the cheese world, we eat, sleep and breathe food safety — it was something I knew quite a bit about,” she said. “And, Jeff has a master’s degree in finance. The business side of it was not a big deal for him (from a learning curve perspective). We had to learn the meat business and the meat industry, but we were up for that challenge.”

Katie said she grew up in a family business that founded the LaClare Creamery in Malone where she was the head cheese maker.

Salchert Meats in St. Cloud is owned by the Fuhrmann family — including Katie, Jeff and their four kids. Submitted Photo

At the time, Jeff was working for a local home improvement company.

“We had always talked about doing something together,” Katie said. “We wanted to do something our kids could be involved in while seeing what mom and dad are doing (at work).”

Salchert Meats, Katie said, was that shining opportunity for their family, which now totals six — Mom, Dad and four kids: Charlie, Joey, Henry and Tilly, ranging in age from nine to three.

“The older kids do pitch in at the store with garbage removal, window washing and restocking shelves,” Katie said.

A brief look back
Katie said Salchert Meats’ story goes back to German immigrant Engelbert Salchert who came to America with a rich heritage and meat business he passed along to his son John who eventually founded Salchert Meats.

They specialized in German-style sausage, cured and smoked hams and bacon.

As the story goes, John slaughtered his own cattle to bring this food source to his fellow townsfolk of Wisconsin.

In 1928, John and his brother Jake bought a meat market in St. Cloud — they were known for their meat delivery business.

What’s so special about a family-owned business?
Katie said many aspects of a family-owned business intrigued both her and Jeff in Salchert Meats.

“It’s the community, the connections and the ability to be involved in all levels of the business,” she said. “Plus, being able to create something with my family and with our community is the most exciting thing. We get to continue what the Salcherts created… We are technically the fifth owners of the business.”

The future, Katie said, is bright for the Salchert Meats team that they have built.

“The work ethic among our team members is unique,” she said. “Our team is hardworking, motivated and dedicated to us. I have to tell them sometimes not to show up on (their) day off.I have to say, ‘It’s okay, we got this.’ We are fortunate with our team — we all balance each other.”

Take sausage-making, for example, Katie said, they have a two-person team dedicated to this endeavor.

Katie Fuhrmann said Salchert Meats has a two-person, sausage-making team. Submitted Photo

“Chris Greuel and Erik Hansen do an awesome job making sausage together,” she said. “It’s fun to watch those two work together because they have a system. They do not even have to talk to each other (in order) to know what the other person needs. They know which questions to ask, and they jump in and help. Whether measuring spices or taking the lead role in making the sausage, they each have their role and area of proficiency.”

Greuel, the head sausage maker, recently graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison as aMaster Meat Crafter.

As the Fuhrmanns mark their fifth year of ownership, Katie said they have found that rhythm as a team.

“We’re a small team but we do a lot of stuff,” she said.

Seasonality and the busy times, Katie said, are fairly evenly spaced throughout the year at Salchert Meats.

“This is intentional because we don’t want only to bring on extra hands for seasonal work,” she said.

Custom processing
Katie said Salcherts also does a lot of custom/wild game processing.

“We have a slaughter plant and process animals all the way through — which is a consistent segment of the business throughout the year,” she said. “We book a certain number of beef and a certain number of pigs and balance the weekly workload so we always know what we have going on.”

The retail side of the business, Katie said, is still the largest segment of Salchert’s overall revenue.

The couple recently bought the former Hometown Bank building located across the street from their current store on Main Street and plan to convert it into additional retail space this spring — a move that will triple their size from a 400-square-foot space to more than 1,200 square feet.

“We just finished a 1,000-square-foot addition to the processing plant in December of last year,” Katie said. “We are going to add a few new retail items but will have (more space) for our existing lines. We will now be able to display all of them.”

Chris Greuel, the head sausage maker at Salchert Meats, recently graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison as aMaster Meat Crafter. Submitted Photo

Katie said Salchert Meats is especially known for their steak sandwiches — “people drive more than 30 miles to get them.”

“The sandwich is comparable to what you would find in a restaurant — a half pound of meat, ground and then tenderized,” she said. “It is an awesome piece of juicy meat.”

Katie said they have a display of Johnson hard rolls shipped in from Johnson’s Bakery in Sheboygan, which is a bun sturdy enough to handle the meat.

“One of our kid-sized customers calls this a ‘man sandwich,'” she said.

Katie said they are not reinventing the wheel when it comes to continuing the solid business foundation set forth by their predecessors.

“Our team is the biggest thing I contribute to (our success) and having that (group) synergy,” she said. “We create a consistent product, keeping the recipes we bought with the business while honoring the history behind us.”

Customer experience
Katie said a good customer experience is important to Salchert Meats.

“I hope every single time somebody talks to anybody within our organization, they have a great experience and they get the answers that they were looking for,” she said.

Katie said she wants their business to be a part of people’s everyday lives.

“‘What’s for breakfast on Saturday morning? Did you grab bacon at Salchert?'” she said. “Or, if someone is planning a graduation party and they are planning their menu, we want them to think of us. Whenever you’re eating with family and friends, we want to be a part of those memories.”

For more information on Salchert Meats, visit

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