Before he bought Schubert’s Smokehouse in Millstadt, Dave Kossina had some prior knowledge of the smokehouse and meat packing business. Kossina worked for founder Larry Schubert for a time and had been considering buying the business for some time before finally making the deal earlier this summer. Business writer Will Buss visited the smokehouse last week to learn more about the new owner:
Why did you buy the smokehouse and meat-packing business?
“It started probably about seven years ago. I had been in the financial services business for probably 25 years. I helped a lot of customers with business continuation, buying and selling businesses, as far as life insurance in the employees and investing the proceeds from the seller. I was approaching Larry as a potential client and I found out that his three children all had different careers and not one of them wanted to work in the business or take over the business. So I started talking to my wife about it and all of the sudden I thought this is an opportunity for me to work in the town where I live in with a well-established reputation, great product, great recipes and so I approached Larry and Mabel about potentially buying the business and apparently they’ve had a lot of people go down that road and say they wanted to buy it and never followed through. They said why don’t you come in and see if you like the business? And I worked here for about five years. I was in the kitchen formulating the recipes, making the product, in the smokehouse, the whole nine yards. I really loved that aspect of it. I think at the time they weren’t ready to sell. So I left for about a year and a half, two years, and then we struck up a conversation about purchasing the business again and the rest is history.”
How long have you owned the business?
“We purchased it on July 13.”
What has your experience been so far?
“Still very nervous, very scared and very excited. It’s a great opportunity. The thing that I’m really surprised about is the business side of it as far as dealing with and setting up our two S-corporations from health benefits to workman’s comp to understanding the clients and and meeting them for the first time. Probably the biggest thing that we have is great employees. We’ve got key people in key spots, and it makes my job a whole lot easier. I knew that going in, that we had key people in key spots, and that was a big reason why I wanted to buy the business.”
Were you a customer before you became the owner?
“Yes. Ever since I had lived in Columbia, we would always come over to Schubert’s and get smokies and the hot dogs and lunch meat. I was on the other side of the counter, and we always loved the product. If we needed ribeyes or whatever you wanted, we would always do that. We knew the product was wonderful.”
What are the new recipes you are planning to introduce?
“The recipes have not changed and the recipes have stayed the same, but we’re adding some new recipes. The summer sausage, the smokies, all of those recipes have stayed the same. They will not change. One of the things that we have tried is a pineapple jalapeno brat. I like it. Some people don’t. I like it, because it has the sweetness of pineapple — if you like pineapple — and it’s got the heat from the jalapenos. That’s a huge seller since we’ve been here. We’ve sold a lot of that. We also have a lot of wholesale business that they like the uniqueness like the jalapeno brat. We also have a gummy bear brat, and they had that before. But it’s those types of things. One of the things that we’re working on now and in to the later part of September, and we don’t know how this is going to go but we’re gong to try it, with Big Daddy’s on The Landing, we’re going to roast an alligator wrapped in bacon with a turkey coming out of the alligator’s mouth. It’s something they’re going to market down there. We’ve talked about and we can get that in. We’re going to stuff it with fresh sausage that we make that has a little spice to it. It’s all for one of their functions that they’re going to do on The Landing.”
What is a gummy bear brat?
“It’s a regular brat, and we put gummy bears in there and when it cooks, the gummy bears melt and you get the sweetness throughout the brat.”
What have you enjoyed most about your new business?
“Really everything. I’ve never had a problem working hard in my life. I like getting up, I’m usually here at about 6:15 in the morning and I don’t leave ’til 5. I just like working with the employees, working with the customers and just the whole thing, I thoroughly enjoy it.”
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2526.
Name: Dave Kossina
Job: Owner, Schubert’s Smokehouse at 700 S. Breese St. in Millstadt (618-476-1133)
Outlook: “Still very nervous, very scared and very excited. It’s a great opportunity.”