Apprenticed at age 14 in Westrhauderfehn, Northern Germany, (now just Rhauderfehn) Heinz Kramer started learning the trade of sausage making and meat processing. He also attended the companion vocational school weekly in Leer, Germany, as part of his apprenticeship.
At age 18, he moved to Holland for a time, working in the meat industry there. At age 19, he immigrated to Canada and worked at a packing plant in Winnipeg, honing his sausage making skills and learning new ones as well. After 3 1/2 years, he moved to Iowa, and thought of starting his own business. He had to work at other places, among them, the John Deere factory in Waterloo, Iowa (where he worked from 1960 to 1971) to earn enough money to support his family and purchase equipment and a building where he could open up his own business.
Heinz and Heide opened for business in June of 1964. Heinz continued to work at John Deere, and after 7 years of working two jobs full time, he decided it was time to see if he could make it on just having the sausage factory. The whole family was involved, including his three sons, Joest, Dan and Marc.
Heinz decided that he didn’t want to have a butchering operation, and knew he could order the finest cuts of meat he specifically needed to make his products from Iowa packing houses. Of course, they still hand trim the hams and dried beef.
At first, the business was established to deliver to grocery stores throughout northeast Iowa. They also processed meat for several lockers and continued to do so until the fall of 2022, when they were winding down the business to eventually close at the end of the year.
Also, Kramer Sausage had processed meat for farmers and hunters throughout their history. They smoked hams, bacon, and loins for the farmers and the hunters had their deer, elk, antelope, or other game, as one customer commented on Facebook, “…turned into deliciousness!” Making many different sausage varieties, smoked dried meat and jerky.
Oh, and the Smoked Turkeys are widely known for being moist, tender, and not too salty! They even processed turkeys you brought to them to be cured and smoked, as well as other fowl and fish, too!
For 59 years, the family business had made quality smoked meats and sausages!
Alas, all good things come to an end, and the business closed permanently on December 31, 2022