DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – Going from generation to generation. That’s the name of the game for Heinkel’s meat packing company in Decatur.

They’ve been in the business for more than a century.

As another box gets taped shut, one of one of Heinkel’s meat packing company’s more popular items, turkey drums, is ready to go.

“The future of Heinkel’s looks like as many turkey drums as we can produce in a given year. That’s our highest volume product we’ll probably do close to 1.5 million pounds of turkey drums to this facility this year,” Wes Heinkel, president and CEO, said.

But turn back the clock, 110 years ago, his great grandfather Albert, started much smaller.

“He started a butcher shop and grocery store. The basement was the butcher shop, the top level was the grocery store. They started making their own sausages, and they and some recipes left over from Germany and sort of it all kind of kept growing,” Wes said.

From there, it was passed down to his son, his son after that, and then to Wes.

Four generations of one Decatur family, building the brand as a pillar in Our Town Decatur

“We don’t exist without the consumer. So, at the end of the day, it’s all about them,” he said. “Keep making people happy, keep making people smile, and keep enhancing people’s events across the country.”

He said even though things continue to evolve generation to generation, they’re always working to set the bar higher and meet it.

And no matter what changes, keeping his family’s name and legacy alive is priceless.

“It’s a great honor. Really honestly, it’s the greatest honor of my life to be able to do this and to carry on the fourth generation, and to be going stronger than ever is a real testament to the work ethic of a lot more people than just me,” he said. “But we take a lot of pride and ownership in this place.”

Whether it’s smoking turkey legs, or preparing some of the recipes that started it all, Heinkels meat packing company wants to keep going for another hundred years.

“It doesn’t work without boots on the ground. I mean, we’re here every day. We’re operators, we love what we do, and we’re very fortunate to be able to carry on a family business for what is now 110 years,” he said.