Well-Known Tennessee Sausage Companies Reflect on Humble Beginnings

Article By: Brandon Lowe
Total Comments: 22   |   Post a Comment

The West Tennessee-based Williams Sausage Company, first began selling sausage in 1958

When Harold Williams, founder of the West Tennessee-based Williams Sausage Company, first began selling sausage in 1958, he boasted a modest operation through which he sold small amounts of sausage to a handful of individuals and families. In fact, the operation was so small that Harold’s wife Hazel actually hand-sewed the cloth bags in which the sausage was sold.

Flash forward more than half a century, though, and Williams Sausage has become a multi-million dollar company whose products are consumed in nearly 40 states spanning across the country. In fact, the company just finished a two-year, $16 million project in which 40,000 square feet was added to its existing processing facility in Union City, Tenn. The recent success of Williams Sausage demonstrates just how viable sausage processing is as an industry in Tennessee.

“I guess you could say we’ve managed to stay up with the times,” says Roger Williams, Harold and Hazel’s son, and currently the president of the Williams Sausage Company.

Williams Sausage produces whole-hog country sausage in chubs, links, patties and in breakfast sandwiches, a line of products that is similar to those produced by a handful of other Tennessee-based sausage companies, the majority of which have a similar homegrown history to that of Williams.

“There were dozens of companies that started as small family operations,” says Harry Womack, who served as vice president of quality assurance and product development for Sara Lee until his 1995 retirement. Womack began his career with Rudy’s Farm Sausage, a Nashville-based sausage company with a history that mirrors that of Williams Sausage.

“When most of these companies started, raising hogs was an everyday thing for Tennessee farmers,” he says. “People in Tennessee have grown up eating and producing sausage.”

The workforce’s familiarity with the industry, plus the state’s central location in what Roger Williams calls “the sausage belt,” are among the other important factors that have kept sausage processing a stable industry in Tennessee despite the fact that swine production has almost exclusively migrated to Midwestern states such as Iowa.

In turn, Tennessee’s position as a hub for sausage processing has helped to create a tight-knit community of sausage companies, all of which provide much-needed rural manufacturing jobs.

The completed expansion at Williams Sausage, for example, added 75 new jobs to the company, taking the total number of employees to 375, a number Williams hopes to continue to build on over the next three years.

“It seems like America is becoming more and more concentrated in the cities,” Williams says. “But we think it is important to provide jobs in rural areas. That approach has been good for our company because we get a ton of support from the local community.”

Historically, many pork-related companies have been headquartered in Tennessee, including both sausage and country ham processors, most of which have gone from small-scale family operations like the ones described by Womack, to full-sized manufacturing businesses that produce convenience sausage items for supermarkets and restaurant chains.

“These companies started here and grew here,” Womack says. “And I see no reason why they won’t stay here and be profitable for years to come.”

Other Prominent Tennessee Sausage Companies Include:

Odom's Tennessee Pride sausage company is based in Madison, Tennessee

Odom’s Tennessee Pride

Tennessee Pride was started in 1943 by Douglas Odom Sr., who had been in the meat business his whole life. Odom experimented with spice formulas to create the sausage recipe that is still used today. The Madison-based company is now run by Odom’s grandson, Larry D. Odom, and has 700 employees.

Jimmy Dean founded his sausage brand in 1969

Jimmy Dean

Country music singer, television host and actor Jimmy Dean founded his sausage brand in 1969 with his brother Don. Today, the company, located in Newbern, is owned by the Sara Lee Corporation and produces bacon, breakfast bowls, sandwiches and omelets along with its line of sausage products.

Goolsby Sausage is manufactured in Cookeville, Tennessee

Goolsby Sausage

James Goolsby grew up on a farm in Viola, Tenn., where he cured country hams and shoulders and made sausage with his family. He founded Goolsby Sausage Company in 1981 and worked to develop a recipe that tasted like the country sausage his family once made. Goolsby Country Sausage, now a product of James Meat Company, is manufactured in Cookeville.

Wampler's Farm Sausage Company is based in Lenoir City, Tennessee

Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company

Wampler’s Farm Sausage has been a family operation since its beginnings in Riley Wampler’s kitchen back in 1937. The wholesale meat company incorporated in 1953 and was officially named Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company in 1981. Today, the company’s sausage is sold under the Wampler name as well as many private label brands. Its plant is located in the Eaton Crossroads community of Lenoir City.

Swaggerty's Sausage Company is based in Kodak, Tennessee

Swaggerty’s Sausage Company

The recipe for Swaggerty’s Sausage Company’s product began more than 80 years ago on a Sevier County farm in Kodak, where Lonas Swaggerty developed his sausage recipe using hams and tenderloins. Three generations later, the modern processing facility remains in Kodak, and the original sausage recipe is still one of the company’s most popular products.

Article From: Farm Flavor - www.farmflavor.com
http://farmflavor.com/us-ag/tennessee/tennessee-food/tennessee-sausage-companies/

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Comments

  1. David Cantu says:

    looking for a sausage called mississippi sausage and it is in a red skin it made it tennessee

  2. Trish says:

    We bought Wampler’s sausage when we lived in Tennessee to take to relative who moved to Illinois.

    Love it.

    We live in SW Florida now, is there anywhere we can buy it around here?????

  3. Joshua Cook says:

    Im looking for a job

  4. Frank says:

    Hi Looking for a breakfast sausage that my aunt would bring fron Clarksville TN. It was a 1 lb. cloth roll and very spicy.I think she said it came from kroger. I loved it. But can’t find it.
    Thanks, Frank

  5. B. A. Phillips says:

    My wish is for Goolsby’s sausage to be sold in Alabama. Can’t understand why merchants in Alabama can’t get this product. We travel to TN to buy Goolsby’s and usually come home with sausage for the neighbors.

  6. kathryn says:

    why did conagra now acquire tennessee pride? I found a great sausage, was so happy about it and this last time i bought i found it is now conagra. i do not trust conagra to meet this quality. can you tell me why they sold?

  7. jeanie horsley says:

    Where in louisville Ky. that I can buy sausage.Our Walmart did carry it .But They have drop now. We love the sausage so I was hoping there another place I can Buy Thank you so much. Jeanie Horsley 3204 So Winchester Acres Rd. Lou. Ky. 40223

  8. Janis Adams says:

    I live in Texas and have heard about your Goolsby Sausages. Is there a place on line where I can order them?

  9. Chuck Harris says:

    A few months ago I purchased a box of your sausage biscuits. I think three were approx. 12 packages of two small biscuits with sausage in each package. I liked them very much. I don’t remember if I purchased them at BJ’s , or Costcos membership could, but I have since gone back to both locations to purchase them again, but neither place has them. Costcos does have the boxes of sausage patties , but not the sausage biscuits. Can you please inform me as to where I can buy them.

    I live in the Charlotte/Indian trail North Carolina location.

    Thank you for your kind response,Chuck

  10. EG says:

    On February 5, 2014, the USDA suspended this slaughterhouse for egregious inhumane animal handling. They hung and stabbed an improperly stunned hog. It was flapping its front feet vigorously. When this was pointed out, instead of trying to stun the poor pig, the worker was told to restick it. Very horrific and against the rules. They were also cited in July 2013 for mishandling animals while unloading them. They don’t even have a robust animal welfare policy at all. I would avoid eating anything from here.

  11. harold young says:

    where can i buy williams bro. sausage in chattanooga tn area.

  12. Tammie Davis says:

    I live in Santa Maria Calif. and have been looking for Rudys sausage biscuit for time now. Is there any place close to where I live that I could purchase Rudys biscuits?

  13. Ralph Moore says:

    I have been buying Rudy farms for a number of years , the quality is still there(although I still miss the small buns) the other brands have dropped drastically lately. One brand has bone or something hard in EVERY patty I tried. one of the other brands I won’t even buy ,I took one bite and threw away

  14. Charles Long says:

    I live in N.E. Dallas, tx area. I REALLY miss Tenn Pride sausage, cannot find it in the area anymore.Can you tell me where to find Tenn Pride sausage?

  15. Jerry Batte says:

    My daughter lives in Nashville & sends me sausage from a man, who lives south of Nshvl that tastes like the sausage my grandfather made in Chapel Hill Tennessee (both men butcher and make/made their own pork sausage. Suggestions of a commercial brand of sausage that might come close?

  16. Richard says:

    I remember a brand of sausage called Tennessee Farm Country Sausage that were advertisers on the Grand Ole Opry in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I have been unable to find any information about the company or what happened to it. Do you possibly know anything about the history of Tennessee Farm? I know that John McDonald, farm director of WSM, was a spokesperson for them as well. Thanks!