Ontario meat processor strives to maintain harmonious balance between authentic tradition and modern technology.
Having established itself as a successful processor of smoked meats in southwestern Ontario long ago, Sikorski Sausages Co. Ltd. has also long been aware of the constant need to keep improving its daily business in order to remain a key player in the fiercely competitive meat processing industry and a hotly-contested regional market.
And over the years, the London, Ont.-based family business has come a long way from being exclusively a niche smoked-meats processor specializing in pork to diversify into various turkey, chicken, beef and veal products to keep up with the constant shifts in consumers tastes in timely fashion.
But while this naturally involved many changes to the way the 29-year-old company manufactured its products with continuous investment in the latest-generation processing and packaging technologies—it remained faithfully committed to maintaining the same traditional, authentic Old World cooking recipes that have made it such a well-respected brand name in the first place.
In fact, it didn’t take the company all that long to quickly find its business niche by supplying its flavorful and smoky deli meats and sausages to the well-established Polish and other central and eastern European communities in the region, faithfully replicating many beloved old-school recipes of long and short sausages, wieners, deli meats, cold-cuts, patés and head cheeses, along with a healthy range of muscled hams, loins, roasts and bacon.
The warm marketplace response to its products so soon after startup prompted it to form a sister retail company under the Starsky Foods banner—today operating three strategic retail locations in the nearby densely-populated Ontario cities of Hamilton, Mississauga and Oakville.
Along with shipping its meats to Starsky Foods and about 400 smaller mom-and-pop retailers catering to the European ethnic communities, Sikorski Sausages today also supplies the deli counters of large grocery retail chains like Loblaws, Fortinos, Zehrs, Longo’s, Highland Farms, Commisso’s Fresh Foods and Sobeys—capping off three years of rapid growth that has its chief executive officer Peter Sikorski highly upbeat about the company’s growth potential.
“Although the Sikorski family was comfortable with the success and growth of the company, I looked at it and thought that if we don’t modernize our facility and food safety procedures, the company would lose its competitive edge in a year or two,” recalls Peter, the eldest son of company founder Marek Sikorski who joined the family business five years ago after completing his business degree at the University of Toronto.
“I really wanted to apply my energy and the business acumen I had acquired in school to take my family business up to the next level,” Sikorski told Canadian Packaging on a recent visit to the company’s modern, ultra-clean London facility.
After receiving due guidance and advice from his father, Sikorski launched a five-year plan that would not only ensure the company’s survival, he explains, but help propel it to the very forefront of European-style meat processing in Ontario—a plan that involved taking the small, family-owned business into a new state-of-the-art facility where food safety would be of the utmost importance.
When the company doors had first opened in 1983, it was a mere 1,500-square-foot shop located in one of four units of a multi-use business complex, but between 1985 and 1995 it acquired and equipped the three remaining units to expand production.