“I’ll stand on a mountain and shout about the quality of our Formax and Cashin slicers, says Rodney Shultz of Kunzler, a 117-year-old premium bacon, ham and deli meat and hot dog processor now serving grocery stores, big box retailers and foodservice providers from their two facilities in Pennsylvania. “They just make my life easier.”
That’s high praise from a company that has spent the last decade growing at a compound rate that exceeds 5 percent. “We are growing like a weed, partially due to the expanded capabilities of the Formax and Cashin slicers we have installed in the past five years,” says Shultz.
Kunzler’s second century growth spurt
“Since building our new 25,000-sq. ft. processing facility in 2003, we have become a much bigger player in the markets we have historically served, while also expanding our service area,” says Shultz. The company now serves all or parts of 13 states, and has earned business from many of the industry’s largest food retailers, including companies like Safeway, Wegmans, BJ’s and Costco.
To prepare for their success, Kunzler made several key investments ahead of their sales growth. In addition to expanding their chilling capacity, Kunzler aggressively added to their portfolio of slicing technology. Forecasting even more growth, Kunzler has planned a 12,000 sq. ft. facility expansion, with groundbreaking envisioned for summer 2018.
Shultz, who has been with Kunzler for 30 years, credits today’s fourth generation of Kunzler family management with anticipating new opportunities and maintaining the company’s ability to react quickly, in spite of the growth. “Even though we have become a big player in our 13-state market, we are small enough to react quickly to customer needs and market opportunities,” he says. “We share with Provisur the advantages of private ownership. We can be nimble and flexible. We have few decision-making layers. We appreciate those qualities in our technology partners like Provisur. They provide us a competitive edge and help us compete with all the major players.”
Premium bacon is one key to Kunzler success
While the physical facilities that Kunzler has built over the past 15 years are impressive, Shultz believes that the most important competitive advantage that Kunzler has recently gained is the addition of superior processing technology.
Their recent investments include a pair of second-generation CashinEdge bacon slicers with laser profiling. The first was delivered in March of 2015 and arrived on a Friday afternoon. Installation was fast and efficient. “On Monday, we were up and running, doubling our throughput,” Shultz says. In fact, he reveals, the new CashinEdge more than replaced the output of two older Cashin slicers the company had been using for decades.
With that success becoming quickly apparent and demand for Kunzler’s premium bacon growing steadily, the Kunzler family’s bold approach to preparing for new growth opportunities once again came into play. “Within months of using our new CashinEdge, our family owners told me, ‘Shultzy, let’s get another CashinEdge.’ So we did.”
SX380: “Provisur is on top of their game!”
Small wonder then that Kunzler was an early adopter of Provisur’s new Formax SX380, boosting throughput and yield in their deli meat slicing operation. “The SX380 gives us unbelievable control and flexibility – and raised yields by 1.5 – 2 percent,” says Shultz.
Kunzler particularly likes, “the ability to stay on the cutting edge of new product development. Our new SX380 is allowing us to react quickly to every customer need and opportunity. We are producing variety packs and 3-meat sandwich set-ups in one smooth operation. We can fold, bunch or create just about any presentation we need on the new slicer. It’s astonishing.”
SX380 Slicing System
According to Shultz, the SX380 is also saving changeover time on the processing floor. “We haven’t found a need to change blades to maintain slice integrity or throughput when slicing different products, so that’s saving us time and money,” he says.
Kunzler grows on the cutting edge.
Kunzler is equally impressed with the slice quality. “The SX380 lets us get the product right down to the blade. We get more usable slices and the quality is phenomenal. Our stacks are so precise and the edges are so even that it’s almost hard to tell that it is sliced product. And, because the butt ends are now so small, our product waste is reduced,” says Shultz.
Shultz cites the excellence of Provisur’s training team as a primary reason that his staff was so quickly able to master the SX380 versatility. “When the SX380 was installed, they stayed with us a couple of weeks to train our team and to optimize the performance. These are complex machines, but their people made it easy as possible. We saw an immediate yield increase.
New hygienic design aligns with Kunzler ideals
“We strive to tightly control the process from delivery of the raw material through transport of the sliced product to customers,” says Shultz. “All of our bacon and deli meats are manufactured in the same plant, but we move our RTE products into a separate facility to be sliced. It’s another investment Kunzler has made to prevent any possibility of cross contamination,” Shultz emphasizes.
“We pride ourselves in the wholesomeness of our products and we choose partners who share our commitment to quality and food safety. We know that Provisur cares as much as we do. Like us, they don’t make compromises,” Shultz says.
As evidence, Shultz cites the open and accessible design of their new SX380 Slicer. “The SX380 is easy to clean and fits right in with our commitment to produce the most wholesome product possible. We have a zero tolerance philosophy when it comes to hygiene and it is obvious that Provisur shares our goals. There are no hidden areas for bacteria to hide,“ he reports.
To Shultz, “Service makes the partnership work.”
Speaking as Facility Director at Kunzler, Shultz says, “Reliability and maximum machine uptime are two criteria that are critical every purchase. We looked at competitive slicers and we paid a little more, but it was worth every penny.”
“Provisur’s goals match ours,” he says. “The quality of their technical service is impeccable… really unheard of service levels. Provisur has our best interests at heart. I have the home phone numbers of both my account managers and if I have a need they are on it right now. I am confident that they will do whatever it takes to keep us up and running. ”
“Excellent company. Excellent partners.”
With a third plant expansion set for groundbreaking this year and a fifth generation of Kunzler family members now involved in the business, Shultz is optimistic about the company’s future. He is also confident about Kunzler’s continuing reliance on slicers from Provisur. “We bond with Provisur over honesty, integrity, a deep base of knowledge and an ability to react quickly that is similar to ours,” he says.
“Excellent company. Excellent partners, “ he concludes. “The new SX380 Slicer is amazing.”