In small town Caledonia, there’s a building everyone in the community knows: Sno-Pac Foods.
Sno-Pac started life in 1900 in a way people might not have expected: as a lumber company. But not only did JP Gengler have a lumber business, he also sold ice from a nearby pond.
The ice would be distributed across the country, being stored in coolers before being shipped. The company began to find the identity for which it is known today once refrigeration became available, i.e. by machine.
At that time, there was also a world war raging, which affected the operations of the Gengler. Everyone was asked to produce more food for the war.
Suddenly there was an influx of goods heading to Fort McCoy for the soldiers. The product would be packed into the ice of the local pond almost like snow, noted Peter Gengler, who is part of the fourth generation of Genglers to own Sno-Pac.
Peter recalled how the company first brought the produce to local restaurants after the war, keeping it on a smaller scale before the organic produce boom of the 1970s. He added that as the he biologics industry was growing, so was Sno-Pac.
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Today, Sno-Pac ships its products across the country; they can be purchased in their own bags and are also included in the ingredients of several household brands sold to other manufacturers. Its primary cast, however, is still located here in the Midwest.
And although vegetables are their main business, Sno-Pac also sells hay. Peter acknowledged that hay is an important part of farming as they farm 2,500-3,000 acres with hilly topography. Hay is able to help not only control weeds, but also cover crops when the weather turns cold.
Peter noted that being family-run has been important throughout Sno-Pac’s years of operation.
He said he always thought his children would grow up and eventually run the business themselves. And that’s what they did, because Zach is responsible for the farm department and Seth takes care of the processing on site.
Peter’s main responsibilities revolve around the farm, monitoring the fields for the harvest season, as well as sales and purchases.
He also made a point of continuing to make Sno-Pac visible to surrounding communities, as well as Caledonia, noting that some people will be visiting their facility for the first time. But of course, when a company has been around for as long as Sno-Pac has been around, the community notices and appreciates it.
Peter returned this appreciation saying that the Caledonia community is his home and his family’s home, as it has been for many generations. He added that Caledonia being such a small town, almost everyone in Caledonia has worked at Sno-Pac in one way or another.
He called the community a big family and acknowledged that they have been very supportive for 120 years.
And in those 120 years, there’s still one thing at the heart of what Sno-Pac does: family. Peter said they were organic before organic was cool, and he wasn’t ready to be the one to let that legacy change, not so much that he could prevent it.
To learn more about Sno-Pac, visit http://www.snopac.com/index.htm.