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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Defiance Sausage Works to Bahmer Packing Plant to Eckert's

In November, 1963, Lloyd Tuttle wrote for the Crescent-News about both the Defiance Sausage Company and the Bahmer Packing Plant in Defiance, which eventually morphed into the Eckert Packing Company.  The earliest related business was the Defiance Sausage Works, pictured here in Tuttle's column, "Backward Glance."

Photo provided to the paper by Mrs. Forest Hohenberger

Tuttle wrote: "JUST SOUTH of the Farmers Co-operative, South Clinton St., was the Defiance Sausage Works which occupied a small stucco building as pictured above.  The business was started by George Wilsnach and, after his death, his widow sought to dispose of the business.

Frank Bahmer, 23, who had recently arrived from Germany and who was living in Fort Wayne, wanted to buy the business and engaged Edward S. Bronson, who then was active as a realtor here.  Mr. Bronson learned that Frank had only $45 to his name, but he also learned that the young man had been trained in the meat business, was an expert buyer, and knew how to produce a quality product.  So, a long term deal was arranged and Bahmer assumed the business.  He changed the name to the Bahmer Packing Co. and diversified the line.  His wife was the bookkeeper. 

ALONG ABOUT this time, L. M. Page, who was sales manager for the Defiance Division of the Toledo Edison Co., and also president of the Defiance Chamber of Commerce, noted the progress young Bahmer was making.  The little plant needed refrigeration equipment, so Page took a chance and sold him $2500 worth on a long term contract.  Page envisioned the possibilities of building up a meat packing industry."

Photo provided to the newspaper by Mrs. Forest Hohenberger
"BY 1935, the business of the Bahmer Packing Co., formerly the Defiance Sausage Works, had grown so rapidly that Bahmer bought land out West High St., along the Tiffin River and built the building pictured above.  It is still a part of the group of buildings that comprise the present day Eckert Packing Co. plant.  The business grew to the point that Frank proudly announced that he employed 18 people. The plant was the first in this area that was completely refrigerated.

At the top of his success, Bahmer took down with a fatal illness.  In 1944 the business was sold to Denver M. Eckert and E. L. Elberson.  They organized the Eckert Packing Co. and its growth has been phenomenal.  Annual sales of Eckert products reached $47,162,119, it was announced at a recent shareholders meeting.

The company now has plants in Archbold, Newark, Defiance and recently purchased a plant at Troy.  At present, almost 700 persons are employed in all the plants and when the Troy plant is in full production, 400 to 500 more will be added.  Headquarters of the company are in Defiance."

Prices on January 8, 1935
Crescent-News, June 28, 1927

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