A look back at Schneiders in Kitchener
It's been a long and rich history for J.M. Schneider.
He started the business in a house on Courtland Avenue, 121 years ago and through much of its history, maintained its tradition of "Community First".
It began as a family business and later, John Metz Schneider's family extended to his employees and customers.
The first plant was started by Schneider in 1890. By the turn of the century, J.M. was well on his way to success with products that were synonymous with quality.
"Good enough for his families table, and good enough for his employees' table, and good enough for the public to eat that quality message stood the times" says Schneiders archivist Karen Trussler.
Trussler maintains the company's extensive archives that includes J.M.'s first log book, some of the early equipment and some of the later famous marketing tools.
One of the artifacts is a 1960s Dutch girl. It would become one of the most enduring symbols of the company.
"It's made out of wood and it's painted by the artist that worked for our company and it was put in the Zehrs store in the meat department."
The depression years were tough, but the company took the high road.
"When things were tough one thing J.M. did was ensure that every married man kept his full time hours."
Then there is the beacon on the edge of the 401. It was erected in the 1960s, drawing attention to the pride of the products.
"What they represented was the kind of quality and integrity in the community itself" says historian Ken McLaughlin.
There were difficult years, losses, strikes and layoffs, forcing the company to streamline.
"They made those difficult decisions in an attempt to keep the business alive and to keep it well. And I think on the whole, they were successful."
Then in 1997, the family sold the company to a U.S. firm after a hostile takeover bid from competitor, Maple Leaf Foods.
"They worried from the beginning that integration with Maple Leaf would be the end of the company's tradition in this community" says McLaughlin.
Now, that seems to have happened. Maple Leaf finally got control of Schneiders seven years ago.
In three year's time, the Kitchener plant will close and with it, the Schneider name will leave Kitchener.