(WACO) – If you have never seen pigs fly, double-check next time you are at a local HEB.
Waco Beef and Pork Processors’ Holy Smoked Sausage is a local savory treat that will send your tastebuds to hog heaven.
Founded by Wallace Wright in 1995, the company started as a small butcher and meat processing plant that served restaurants in the Waco area. Now the family business is continued by friends Michael Landsfeld and Mike Linder, both of whom earned associate degrees and taught in Texas State Technical College’s Meat Processing and Marketing program before it was discontinued.
“I started in this industry when I was 11 years old with my father. Sausage making and the meat industry is something I’ve just always enjoyed, and you should enjoy what you do,” said Landsfeld, the company’s managing partner.
Recently, the Waco company donated sausage to feed students competing at the Area 5 and Area 8 FFA Tractor Technician Competition hosted by TSTC’s Diesel Equipment Technology program.
“I’ve always kept in contact with my old teacher friends and old students who come by and see me,” said Landsfeld. “And anytime TSTC comes calling, I try to help.”
In 1978, Landsfeld graduated from Ennis High School in Ellis County, and around that time he heard about TSTC at a local trade show.
After graduating from TSTC, he continued practicing his skills in Dallas before returning to teach at TSTC.
“I came back to TSTC in ’89 and was asked to teach in the Meat Processing and Marketing program, and that’s when I first got to work with my friend Mike Linder,” said Landsfeld.
Landsfeld and Linder were both TSTC graduates who returned to teach and always talked about working together in a business environment.
“Linder and I have been friends for 30 years. We never thought we’d get to work together, but we dreamed about it back in the office days,” said Landsfeld.
After teaching for some time, Linder left to work at Waco Meat Service and Landsfeld started his career at Waco B&PP.
“Waco B&PP has been here for 23 years, and our main business is sausage making,” said Landsfeld. “We serve mainly HRI — hotels, restaurants and industry, but you can find us in small grocery stores too.”
Linder later joined Landsfeld and the Waco B&PP team as sales manager and now says he truly enjoys his workday.
Waco B&PP has expanded beyond Waco and now serves multiple businesses within a 120-mile radius.
“You know we’re growing, and it’s a good feeling to have when you’re with a company that’s continuing to grow,” said Linder.
The two friends attribute their success to their time spent at TSTC.
“TSTC made a good impact on me, and it was due to the teachers,” said Linder. “They were really good, knew their stuff and were well-driven. TSTC helped me to learn and be ready to continue learning.”
As with many trades, meat processing technology continues to change, encouraging the industry to adapt along with it.
“The technology has evolved quite a lot, and the emphasis is on the science as opposed to the art, both in sausage making and the meat preparation,” said Landsfeld.
Since the friends’ time at TSTC, parts of the Meat Processing and Marketing program have been integrated into the Culinary Arts program.
“We teach basic butchery skills, and meat fabrication is taught in all savory classes, where students learn the codes and regulations,” said TSTC Culinary Arts Department Chair and Chef Mark Schneider.
As Landsfeld and Linder continue their time together, they encourage the younger workforce to consider meat processing and the affiliated fields.
“We need younger workers; this business is very hands-on, and these young people are wonderful. And we do hire TSTC graduates,” said Landsfeld.
Landsfeld and Linder agreed that in a time when jobs are not guaranteed after a four-year education, TSTC serves as a viable alternative.
“Our time at TSTC was valuable for both of us. I’ve always been a hands-on type person,” said Linder. “I like working with my hands, and I worked in construction before I went to TSTC. But we went to TSTC to step up our education.”
There is evidence of the company’s success in the numerous awards and prizes received from the Texas Association of Meat Processing and other organizations.
“I think TSTC opened the doors to a lot of people, and I can vouch for them — I’m one of them,” said Landsfeld.
Waco B&PP specializes in sausage making but also provides specialty meets, spices and cheeses. These can be purchased directly through Waco B&PP or through local grocery stores.
For more information on Waco Beef and Pork Processors, go to holysmokedsausage.com.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.