Fargo South Ag and Business Banker George Sinner, at right in the photo, joined his clients Schiltz Foods at a February 17 White House ceremony honoring the South Dakota goose producer as a “manufacturing success in rural America.”
U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Administrator Judith Canales, at left, presented a Rural Development Program award to President Jim Schiltz, at center, who invited his American Federal Banker to attend the recognition event.
The Schiltz Success Story
Schiltz Foods, the largest goose producer in North America, has been selling geese since the early 1940s when Marlin Schiltz was given goose eggs found by his wife and her sister. He raised the geese, sold them and started a family business that has evolved from five geese to more than 200,000 birds and a business that distributes goose meat worldwide.
Today, the successful family business is run by brothers Jim and Richard Schiltz. The company has been based in Sisseton since 1981 when it acquired an old creamery and began producing goose meat under a federal label so it could be shipped across the country.
During the winter, the Schiltz’s processing plant turns into a hatchery until the end of July. The geese are then raised on a farm in Sisseton and anywhere from 18 to 22 weeks later, the geese are ready to be processed.
For years, the focus of the company was to provide whole geese. However, in the past few years, the company has perfected a smoked goose line, which made its debut last year. Jim Schiltz said consumers do not like to invest the time it takes to cook a whole goose, and he wanted to find a way to make goose meat more accessible and easier to eat.
“Smoked goose was always such a greasy mess and often it tasted like ham,” Schiltz said. “We took the time to get the formula right and now we are able to have whole smoked goose (ready for the table in 90 minutes).”
Another focus of the business is to continue researching therapeutic antibodies. Schiltz lost a percentage of its bird flock to the West Nile Virus. A cure was found through therapeutic antibody research using goose eggs and sera and as a result Schiltz has teamed up with several universities, including the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to continue antibody research.
With the financial loss from the bird flu, “the owners realized they needed to make a change in their production method, but they needed to buy more land to do it,” according to a 2/27/2012 USDA Blog. The Schiltz brothers met with George. “George was impressed with their expertise and knowledge. A loan was approved with a USDA Rural Development Business and Industry guarantee and a Small Business Administration loan was approved. Schlitz Foods was able to make the improvements in production, which would prevent another disease outbreak.”
The company now is in full processing production with 150 employees processing upwards to 7,000 birds each day and the product offering has been expanded by selling smoked goose breast and even goose eggs.