Larry Clark was born to Adrian and Helen Clark in Mineral Point, WI. His family of one brother and two sisters lived on a diversified farm having dairy and beef cattle and hogs. He was active in 4-H and FFA organizations. These early experiences led to his interest in agriculture. Larry was the first of his family to seek a college education. Following his graduation from Mineral Point High School in 1962 he enrolled in the Meat & Animal Science major with a minor in Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin. He found his way to Babcock House and was among the cohort of men that moved from Clymer Place to the House’s present location on University Avenue in 1964. In 1973, he married Ginny and together they raised a family of seven children.
Professor Ernie Briskey was his advisor and the provider of student summer employment. It was his contact with Dr. Briskey that put him in position to be recommended as a part-time employee to Oscar Mayer Inc. that was seeking an assistant for a smokehouse project. In addition to this employment providing revenue to fund Larry’s collegiate expenses, it was an eye-opening opportunity to see how a big company in the meat industry with good business minds conducted its business. This was the fortuitous connection that started Larry down the path of a career in the meat industry.
Mr. Clark’s early professional career was also shaped by his interest in livestock, carcass and meat evaluation. Larry was a member of the UW Meat Judging Team coached by Glen Schmidt which competed in the Kansas City Royal Contest in Fall 1964, and won the contest. He also completed the Livestock and Meat Marketing course from Professor Bob Kauffman.
His career began with Oscar Mayer after his graduation from UW in 1966. Given his strong background in livestock evaluation, Larry was hired into a livestock procurement position with Oscar Mayer Inc. The Madison plant was intent on growing their local hog supply chain so Larry worked with regional hog farmers to recruit the needed supply of hogs to the Madison plant.
Eventually Oscar Mayer’s interest in hog slaughter at the Madison plant began to wane, so Larry departed in 1976 to become Vice-President and General Manager for Star Meat Company in Detroit,MI. Thereafter, he moved to the same position at American Meat Packing, Chicago, IL. Subsequently, he became Director of Livestock Procurement for John Morrell & Company.
In 1989, he was able to realize his dream of owning his own business by purchasing the Lodi Locker from Jim Peterson and his dad. The business transaction led to a professional bond between Jim Peterson and Larry that continued until Jim’s passing. They felt they each owed the other because Jim confessed later that Larry paid too much for his business and Larry confessed that he felt he paid too little. Larry changed the name of the business to Lodi Sausage Company & Meat Market and put his efforts into building the business. Larry built his business on the foundational principles of high quality product, consistent product quality, and fairness in his business dealings with farmers, suppliers, deer hunters and customers. He drew upon his relationships with livestock farmers from his Oscar Mayer days to build the livestock harvest component of the business. Also, Jim Peterson advised Larry to join the Wisconsin Association of Meat Processors, which Larry did. By attending WAMP conventions and visiting with fellow meat plant operators, Larry grew his expertise in meat processing. He hired great, young men from the Fennimore Meat Processing School, that still work for Lodi Sausage Company. If you know Larry’s personality, it seems very fitting that he could maintain the employ of his staff for decades. The results of his talents and skills manifested themselves in growth of his business, eventually including catering and pig roasts, and plaques in recognition of his championship summer sausage, bacon, beef jerky and bratwurst.
In addition to being a successful livestock buyer, corporate executive, and business owner, Larry Clark has given his time and talents to serving the organizations from which he benefited or from which his community would benefit. He served as President and Executive Secretary of WAMP, Vice-President of the American Association of Meat Processors, President of Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Council, and President of the Wisconsin 4-H Foundation. For the 4-H Foundation, he built the Governor’s Meat Products Auction into a significant fund-raiser for 4-H Club members. When Chronic Wasting Disease emerged in the Wisconsin deer population, venison consumers besieged meat processors with their concerns. Larry worked with the Department of Natural Resources, UW CWD experts, and Dennis Buege to educate meat plant operators in boneless venison methods, and consumers relative to safety of venison processing methods. During his Lodi Sausage career, locally-sourced food products came to be demanded by consumers and flavorings emerged as a new innovation for processed meats and venison. Lodi Sausage adapted to these market developments and Larry worked with the Department of Agriculture as Manager of the Specialty Meat Development Center to help educate small meat plant owners on opportunities that were available to help their business.
To all who have worked with him, Larry Clark has been a trusted friend with a positive, cheerful outlook. His efforts to build Lodi Sausage were boosted in recent years when Michael joined his father’s business.
Larry Clark built a model small meat plant business. For the future, we can expect to see Lodi Sausage as a preferred consumer destination for high-quality, locally-sourced fresh and processed meat products and continuing Larry’s record for winning state, national, and international processed meat product competitions.