A Success from the Beginning
The community of 700 already had three well established meat markets. But business started with a bang as the new market tallied $47.50 in receipts on its first day. In 1916, Plath had a new building constructed down the street. It was a new, "advanced design" building, complete with glazed white brick front and terrazzo floor.
Tragedy stuck in 1941. Emil Sr's. wife, Clara, died after a lingering illness and in February 1943 the market was destroyed by fire. The business was temporarily relocated to First Street, the former Mel's Market, while the market was rebuilt. In 1946, a locker plant was opened in the rear of the store. A farmer or family could rent a locker for $20 per year. The locker plant eventually was discontinued in the 1950s as home freezers became popular.
Emil's son, Emil Plath Jr., “Moe” to all who knew him — joined the family business after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was the youngest of five children and the only son. He married his sweetheart, Helen Dagner, also raised in Rogers City.
The father-son pair formed a partnership in 1950, and shortly after that time they began to aggressively promote their famous smoked pork loins. They enlisted the aid of an advertising agency, and soon people all over the country were ordering smoked loin and other products from the little market in Rogers City.
Looking to the Future
In 1955 the senior Plath retired. The business expanded, with an additional smokehouse and a larger processing area added.
Moe Plath purchased a delivery truck in 1958, about the same time the Mackinac Bridge was built. That enabled him to deliver their products and serve customers in the Upper Peninsula. The truck delivered Plath's meats to over 100 restaurants within a 150 mile radius of Rogers City. Moe and two of his sons traveled to Germany to see for themselves the smokehouses and other equipment used by German master meat-cutters and butchers. Another addition was built for the business in 1984 that would house the latest available equipment and a smokehouse that could do the work of three of the older smokehouses. Two more additions were completed in 1993 and 1999. Third & fourth generations of the Plath family are still in business, in the same building, selling their famous smoked pork loin.
Plath has always utilized the latest technology while maintaining the old fashion quality and taste the people have come to know and love. Loyal and hardworking employees have helped make Plath's Meats a will-run business.
Today, four of the Plath's five sons are involved in the business. Moe would say "The boys do all the work," but people who were acquainted with Moe, however, knew he also put in long, long hours. His shrewd business sense took what was a small town store to a nationally-known entity.
"You can only do so much business in a small town," Helen says", Moe and his dad were very wise men. Emil Sr. had a good product & Moe was the salesman who got it going beyond Rogers City."