For 30 years, Marty and Kim Auch have walked out their back door and walked across the parking lot to Hamilton Pack. But now they have moved out of the house next to Hamilton Pack, and moved up the road. The Auchs recently sold the long time fixture to Jason and LaRynn Schlange.
“When I bought the business from Wally Weber 30 years ago, he told me then that this was a young man’s business,” said Auch. “He was right.”
The business has been at the same location, 692 Hwy 93 N, Hamilton, for about 70 years. It has grown from a simple slaughterhouse to the facility it is today with pens, a processing facility, freezers, and a retail store. There are currently eight full-time employees and several part-time employees are hired in the fall.
Schlange is younger and brings a ton of enthusiasm and plans for growing the already successful business. He and his family moved here from Redding, California, where Schlange worked for a retail and wholesale meat shop.
Right now, Schlange is learning the ropes at Hamilton Pack. The business he worked at before didn’t do slaughtering and so that is a new area for him to learn. The same employees that worked for Auch are staying on, so they will be helping to ease the transition as well.
Hamilton Pack has always done custom meat processing and wild game processing and they will continue to do this. The fall season is the busy time as always. Although Hamilton Pack won’t be providing support for the beef from the Market Sale at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds, they will do so for the swine. This means they will have a supply of pork to sell through their retail store. Schlange said he hopes to pick the beef back up next year.
There are a few items that have been grandfathered in to the transition of ownership but there are more hoops than ever for the new owners to jump through. New regulations have been initiated in the past three decades and changes need to be done to bring everything up to standard.
Schlange said that once these items have been taken care of and brought up to code, he will look to start growing the retail shop even more. He hopes to increase the number of ready to go to the stove or grill meats that have been marinated or pre-seasoned. (He does say that some of these seasonings and marinades are secret recipes he already has.)
“We want people to think of Hamilton Pack as their one stop place to go for fresh beef, fresh pork, and fresh chicken,” said Schlange.
Along those lines, too, are the many specialty meats they have to offer. These include the jerky and sausages that are labeled Montana Territory Products. Auch developed these products and the markets for them. There was some concern these products may go by the wayside, but Schlange stressed they would continue with these popular products.
Throughout the years, the Auchs have built up a relationship with the valley’s ranchers and producers to buy animals which are processed for the retail part of the business. Schlange plans on continuing this arrangement and even building upon that in the future.
“It’s important to support your surroundings,” he said. “Providing the best quality is important. We are going to do that.”
As for Auch, he and Kim are spending more time with the grandkids. He still comes to the plant almost every day to help with the transition. The only change is he’s having to drive to work.
“Did you know, fuel is expensive,” he said with a laugh.