MINOCQUA, Wis. — Trig’s, a five-store independent operated by T.A. Solberg Co. here, is moving to expand the reach of its Trig’s Smokehouse brand to other retailers in the Midwest. The brand is currently only sold at Trig’s and Trig’s Village Market.
Last summer, Trig’s upgraded from a 1,200-square-foot smokehouse in the back of its Rhinelander, Wis., store to a new 20,000-square-foot facility nearby. The Rhinelander store is being remodeled to use the former smokehouse space for retail and storage, said Gary Husnick, director of meat, seafood and smokehouse operations.
The new smokehouse currently produces 80 different fresh and smoked meat  products, said Kindl Furtak, director of marketing.
“We are currently getting prepared and positioning ourselves to distribute to other retailers in the future because we’ll now have the capacity to do that. As well on the other side of the building is a warehouse and an ice plant that allows us to do volume buys and supply our own stores on other grocery products,” she said.
Husnick said the company hopes to provide both Smokehouse branded products as well as private-label products to Midwest retailers.
“We are entertaining approximately five different retailers right now. We’re kind of in the beginning stages of creating labels for them and working out the details and hopefully those go forward,” said Husnick.
The Trig’s Smokehouse label also has a new look that was in production last week. The updated label will celebrate the new smokehouse facility with an illustration.
Although the Trig’s Smokehouse brand has been around for 20 years, only recently has the line really taken off. In 2010, Trig’s won the grand champion title for fresh brats at the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors competition  in Middleton. Furtak said Trig’s also won “fan favorite” and the best brat title for the World’s Best Brat Competition that year.
“So with the success of that and some other awards we’ve gotten over the years for different products, we really have seen a lot of growth and that enabled us to open a new facility in the Rhinelander area this past summer,” Furtak said.
Trig’s continues to win awards for its Smokehouse products, winning six awards at this year’s Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors competition.
Trig’s marketing  team does a lot to promote the products in-store and out. In addition to billboards, radio and television advertising, the brand has a presence at events like summer festivals and state fairs.
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Plus, Smokehouse products are presented en masse in stores.
“About a year ago we decided to dedicate our Trig’s Smokehouse brand and display all of the product together in our coffin cases,” said Husnick. “Anywhere from 24 to 30 feet of displays is what we have in our stores where we display it all together, and we’ve found that is the best way to market our product.”
Some Smokehouse products are put in full-service cases as well.
Trig’s has made some changes to transition from retailer to a wholesaler.
“One of the exciting things we’re doing as a wholesaler, up until just a couple months ago, all of our product was all random weight. We had no fixed weight scannable items,” Husnick said.
“Well, that’s changing. Our whole beef stick line now, which consists of eight different varieties, our whole summer sausage line as well as our brat line are all fixed-weight national UPC scannable items as we speak.”
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