Cincinnati is a city that enjoys its heritage, sausages, traditions, and hometown heroes. Pete Rose, baseball’s all-time hit king is one of those heroes. Elmer Hensler, founder and president of local favorite Queen City Sausage is another Cincinnatian who made his mark in this community.
It is not often that two Cincinnati icons find the time to meet and enjoy great conversation over lunch. On September 22nd Pete Rose stopped by the Queen City Sausage Factory in Cincinnati. Once there Pete sat down to a casual lunch of Elmer Hensler’ finest sausages. Brats. Metts. Goetta. Freshly made. Freshly grilled. This is Queen City Sausage’s 50 year anniversary.
Elmer founded Queen City Sausage in 1965. This was a few years after a young Pete Rose was beginning his career with the Cincinnati Reds. Both men have much in common. Both grew out of the West Side of Cincinnati and from humble beginnings. Both told story after story of life back in the day.
As is a tradition with Elmer, if you are invited to our daily lunch at Queen City, you are also invited on a personal tour of the sausage factory given by Elmer. Of course Elmer offered the tour and Pete accepted. It was a very good day.
Cincinnati Mayor Cranley to Proclaim May 25th as Queen City Sausage Day! Proclamation to be presented!
Elmer Hensler, founder and president reflects on his 50 year past while building an even brighter future.
Elmer Hensler is a proud Cincinnatian. He speaks very fondly of growing up in Cincinnati’s West End in the 1930’s. This was the historic meatpacking district and it had a profound impact on Elmer in his youth. Elmer began working in the local slaughterhouse, just up the street from his home. He was 11 years old. “I just showed up at the slaughterhouse doing odd jobs hoping they would hire me.” Elmer reflects. He did this before grade school by rising at 4:00 a.m.
By 1965, Elmer, along with two partners, started Queen City Sausage. They pulled together $13,000. Elmer likes to reflect on several things; Queen City Sausage is the last independent standing after over 40 meat companies, including Kahn’s went out of business in Cincinnati since he started. Additionally the company has always made a profit, and is now adding on a 14,000 sq. ft. addition. The 12th since 1965.
Not only is 2015 the 50th anniversary for Queen City Sausage it also marks a milestone for the company by expanding into additional Kroger markets outside of Cincinnati including all of Ohio, Indiana, and parts of Michigan and Illinois. The company is also the official sausage of the Reds and Bengals.
Elmer lives by two mottos; “Never cheapen your product” and “I don’t want to be the biggest, just the best.” 50 years is a long time to be in business. Elmer’s mottos have served him well!
Elmer Hensler will be presented the proclamation at City Hall, Wednesday, May 20th at 2:00 p.m..
Queen City Sausage and Provision, Inc. was founded 1965 by Elmer Hensler. Authentic, German crafted sausage making is a hallmark of the company. The company is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, privately owned and remains in the Hensler family. Queen City brats and metts are the best-selling sausages in the region. Queen City Sausage and Provision, Inc. 1136 Straight Street, Cincinnati, OH 45214. Contact: Mark Balasa/Director of Marketing/513/541-5581.
“You’ve Tried the Rest, Now Try the Best®” Tagline coined by Elmer J. Hensler
Elmer Hensler is a story teller. He often invites people to tour the Queen City Sausage Factory and conducts most of the tours himself. While on the tour Elmer narrates how and where the company began in each of the 11 expansions you walk through while there. Each room has a story, a unique need that it satisfied and where the company was at the time on its road to success.
The tour begins with a walk on the roof on the way to Jeff’s Cooler. While on the roof, the visitor gets a very strong blast of freshly burning hickory wood smoke emanating from the smokehouses. The smell is primal! It fills up the senses. It makes you hungry! Once inside Jeff’s Cooler, a full array of large containers of fresh meats are on display. Some of the meat arrived that morning and some has been freshly blended for various brat and mett recipes. The emphasis is on fresh here. No meat is ever purchased that has been previously frozen. Buying fresh meat costs much more but Elmer insists on being able to test the quality instantly of all meat arriving at the plant.
Along the tour route, the various production processes are shown. This includes mixing, chopping, stuffing, steaming and the favorite, smoking! Elmer explains every aspect. He is so proud!
Most tour visitors walk away with these thoughts: Wow! “I had no idea how great sausage is really made! How clean and organized the plant is! The employees interact so well and know their jobs.” Additionally they can say that they were personally lead on a tour by the Sausage King himself, Elmer Hensler.
Elmer is somewhat unique in that he has never forgotten where he came from. Cincinnati’s West End. The original meat packing district of Porkopolis. Humble beginnings and poor. So everything gained is appreciated. Everything! That’s Elmer!
Capital isn’t scarce, vision is. Sam Walton
When most business owners achieve the success Elmer J. Hensler has with his now over 50 year old Queen City Sausage Company, they tend to want to slow down a bit. Not so for Elmer. In fact, construction is underway for his 12th addition to the sausage factory. This new addition will not only add needed space, but will also streamline the production process. This is especially important and timely as the company is looking to expand into surrounding areas such as Columbus, Indianapolis, Michigan, Louisville, and Lexington.
As Elmer often proclaims; “We do not want to be the biggest, just the best!” This phrase sums up the careful approach the Queen City Sausage team takes when considering a gentle push outward. “I do not want to make any kind of move that will jeopardize the quality of our sausages for our existing customers.” said Elmer. So everything is carefully calculated and lined up, including any new production equipment. Regional expansion is now underway.
Additionally, Elmer often reflects on the team he has in place. Patrick Miller is the GM/Director of Sales, Mark Rodgers is the Plant Manager, Mark Balasa is the Director of Marketing, Edie Glenn is the Office Manager, and Sandy Witt is the inside Sales Manager. There are many other key players, most with great longevity. There is very little turn over.
Regional Powerhouse Brand!
Winning is not a sometimes thing, it is an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing. Vince Lombardi
By the 1980s Queen City Sausage was doing business with Kroger, Meijer, Remke, Sam’s, Walmart, GFS, Findlay Market and many great independents across the region. This was no small feat. The Queen City name stood for dependability and great quality. At Elmer’s insistence, and with his partner’s watchful eyes, the sausages the company made set the standards for Cincinnati sausage making. The company hallmarks include: Real hickory wood smoke, small batch production, hand mixed spices, best ingredients and Elmer’s motto; “Never cheapen your product!”
Elmer often remarks; “Since I started Queen City Sausage, over 40 meat companies have gone out of business. Queen City is the last one standing, including the loss of Kahn’s.” Elmer attributes the Queen City Sausage Company survival to his motto: “Never cheapen your product!” Elmer often reflects on how these 40 companies reached a significant level of success and then lost sight of what made them successful; passion and commitment to great products. In short, they cheapened their products in order to simply maximize even more profits.
Queen City Sausage Company becomes the official Brat and Mett of the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals!
By 2010, the company became the official Brat and Mett of the Cincinnati Reds. Not long afterwards, the same applied to the Cincinnati Bengals. Three iconic, hometown brands joining forces to help each other’s business and community support! That is powerful!
Dedication to making people very happy with truly great and delicious sausages continues to bode well for Queen City Sausage.