Made in the Four States - Ott Food Products

Published 04/28 2014 09:16AM

Updated 06/24 2015 11:08AM

Carthage, MO ---  Many of us will go to great lengths to re-create a little taste of home. That's what happened in the 1940's in carthage, when Walter Ott wanted to serve a salad dressing like his mom used to make. Now, more than 60 years later, Ott's Famous Red dressing is still topping salads around the nation, with a little extra company.
  It's portion day at ott food products in Carthage.Thousands of 1.5 ounce cups being packed to order. Owner Ryan Brunnert says it's one of many changes the company has made over the years to stay competitive, and efficient. "In 99, we still hand-packed everything, we were in glass. Obviously for shipping purposes, we went to PET. I mean, everything's pretty well automated now.But one thing we have is great employees. They've also seen how it's grown from hand-packing it , from hand pouring up, to now, having automated machines to fill it, these guys used to hand-set on bottles. Now, we do it so it's just bottles in a machine, turn on the machine and let it do its job."
  In 1978, Ryan Brunnert's uncle, with a partner, bought ott food products. Along with the Famous Red dressing, a BBQ sauce was also being produced at the time.
 During the 80's, the owners expanded their horizons, with new flavors and delving into the private label world, producing sauces for Emeril's BBQ line and other restaurants around the nation. You'll also find BBQ sauce rolling out under the Silver Dollar City brand. Brunnert says it's all proof that care and quality ingredients go into every bottle. "Our quality is one thing we strive on. Our quality and our service. Those are the two things that keep a small company in business."
 Seven years ago, Ott's switched hands again, but stayed in the family. Along with more than 20 products and private labels, many employees have stayed on. Richard huff has worked here 30-plus years and has seen plenty of changes. "We used to have to cook the BBQ spices on little 5 gallon pots on the stove, now, we've got big 300 gallon cook pots we cook them in.  There's six that work here in the factory part, but I would never guess that the same amount of employees that do it today did it 30 years ago."
  And these employees, like Huff aren't just working the line, they're consumers, too. "I used to be Famous all the time, but now I've kinda started doing the Ranch too."
 But it's the Red that got it all started, and Brunnert says cooks have found many uses for it. "As a dipping sauce for shrimp, fish, you can use it on a salad. People marinate chicken in it. The Vidalia Onion, you marinate chicken,  you can use it in cole slaw. We try to find the versatility in our product. If you get it in their mouth and they taste it and they like it, they'll buy it."
   Another change you'll soon see on store shelves - a re-designed bottle. Brunnert says it has a new look and is sturdier. They plan to have it available this summer.
 For more on the early history of ott's, and to check out what other flavors are available, head to the Ott's website.

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