Bangers and cash

Growing demand for top quality sausages has put a small Waikato business into expansion mode.

Frank’s Sausages of Te Aroha owes its existence to the eponymous Frank Nagel’s love of a good sausage.

The Hamburg native knew when he tasted his first everyday Kiwi bangers a dozen years ago, that he was going to have to make some sausages more in keeping with those he had been used to in his German homeland.

Since small beginnings in the laundry of their home in Matamata, he and his wife Sheryn Cook have built a thriving business based on superior quality sausages made from free-range preservative-free ingredients.

The couple met in Germany where he was a rugby-playing industrial chemist and she a Kiwi executive working for Fonterra. These days their complementary skills are helping propel their company well beyond its hobby-scale roots.

Nagel first began supplying a local restaurant and selling small quantities at farmers’ markets but in 2010 the couple – who have two young children – grabbed the opportunity to take over an established sausage factory near Te Aroha which was for several decades the premises of a Swiss sausage maker.

“Once we took over the facility it became a little bit more than just a hobby,” says Cook.

Having the factory meant they could scale up production while staying true to their passion for quality. They developed strong relationships with meat suppliers who have shared in their subsequent success.

These days their output is often measured in tonnes per week. “We’ve grown considerably,” says Cook. The business employs two full-time sausage makers and a packer alongside Nagel, with extra staff called in for busy periods.

Cook handles all the administration, sales and marketing from an office at the couple’s home, 15 minutes away in Matamata. “There’s a demarcation line,” she says. “I’m outside the factory and Frank’s inside the factory.”

Demand is such that the couple must now consider moving to bigger premises. “We’re starting to look at where the next steps will be,” says Cook.

“We will probably need to consider a new facility that’s going to be able to cope with the demand.”

Much of the company’s output goes to cafes, restaurants and gourmet food outlets, with other customers choosing to buy directly from the Frank’s Sausages website. The fast-growing food delivery and recipe service My Food Bag is also a substantial customer, helping further spread the word about Frank’s products.

The company’s range is tweaked to suit its various channels to market, says Cook, but the fundamentals remain the same.

“The core values will never change.”

The business aims to eventually reach an even wider market and is looking at new packaging and branding as it seeks to expand.

“We do see a place for our products in supermarkets down the track,” says Cook. “We’re now so busy, we’ve got to find time to take a step back and just plan the next step.”

BNZ business acquisition manager Clive Somerville has taken a keen interest in the company’s progress and potential for further growth. “He’s been really supportive all the way through,” says Cook.

The bank supplies overdraft facilities and a range of other products tailored to suit a small but growing business. Somerville says Cook’s business experience gives Frank’s a keen commercial edge that complements her husband’s love of making quality sausages.

“They deserve the success they’re having and BNZ is pleased to be part of it.”