Badger Ham Company began in 1939, as an entrepreneurial dream in a modest 2,000
sq.ft. building located at 35th and Lincoln, the bustling commerce side of Milwaukee.
Soon after, a partnership evolved combining the experience and talents of Jacob
Schwellinger and Frank Rakowski. Jacob, an experienced meat cutter, was versed in the
old world techniques of curing and smoking ham, while Frank complimented the team
with a knack for salesmanship.
Together they focused on a single-minded goal, to specialize on one product: Ham, and
to do it better than anyone else. Schwellinger realized early on that there would
be no substitute for quality and was dedicated to producing nothing less. His traditional
technique of ham cured by hand, carefully trimmed and delicately smoked over an open
flame using select sweet maple wood is still being utilized by Badger Ham today.
In 1955, Rakowski died and Schwellinger's son Jack joined the business, followed
by his brother Jerry in 1961. With a strong work ethic and commitment for quality
inherent of family owned businesses, Badger Ham grew and expanded exponentially.
In 1966, the father and co-founder Jacob died, passing the business torch along with his
recipe for success to Jack and Jerry. Reaffirming their goal, they remained focused
on perfecting their single product line: ham, for the discriminating taste of their growing
customers. Expansion ensued with state-of-the-art equipment that updated operations to
maintain pace with the growing demand for their product.
In 1976, Jerry's son Mark, the third generation Schwellinger, joined the business and
Jack later retired in 1985. Expansion once again meant progress with new efficiencies in
production, while never compromising their relentless focus on quality to make the finest gourmet ham.
To test the success of their efforts, Badger entered their product in an official open
competition sponsored by the Wisconsin State Fair. The judges, upon completing their
due diligence, presented the coveted "Seal of Excellence" award to Badger Ham.
Dispelling rumors of this being a fluke, Badger entered again the following year, and won
again. This prestigious honor would eventually be garnered by Badger Ham for eight
consecutive attempts, earning them the enviable reputation as Wisconsin's "Award-Winning" Gourmet Ham.
Today Badger Ham, in its third generation, continues to expand at the increasing pace of
its growing customers. The integration of computer technology and digital control has
honed the consistency factor beyond human standards, but the hand curing and traditional
smoking techniques along with a relentless commitment to quality will never change.