In his youth, Mark Ebels butchered fresh meat alongside his great uncle Frank at the family’s small-town general store in Falmouth, Michigan. Ebels’ next partner in the meat department was his wife Dawn. Together in the 1980s, they started processing deer and wild game. Customers soon requested they make sausage and jerky all year.

True to the family’s roots to offer the best products and please customers, Ebels met with longtime German sausage-maker Harvey Reichert and worked alongside him to learn the craft.

“If you’ll be my teacher, I promise you I’ll be a good student,” he recalls telling Reichert, who honed the younger man’s recipes and taught him about spices. “There’s science in there, but the art is knowing what you have to do to make it just right,” Ebels says today.

The Ebels family immediately built a lean-to for smoking behind the store and Mark taught Dawn to make sausage. In 1994, they launched Little Town Jerky, now a federally inspected and GFSI-certified meat processor.

Little Town Jerky requires the highest quality ingredients, including Certified Angus Beef ® cuts for smoked bratwurst and brisket, snack sticks, summer sausage, cooked rib and pot roast, deli meat and fresh corned beef.

This year, the Ebels family introduced a new display that enables stores, restaurants, ranches and others to easily sell the snack sticks. Giant Eagle stores introduced the display this summer and more markets offer them today.

Hardwood smoking and natural, easy-to-recognize seasonings for the snack sticks bring a deep, smoky flavor to the protein that fits active lifestyles. The salsa, mild, black pepper and jalapeño items are still available in bulk and suitable for pegboard and export sales.

“Dawn and I worked hard to keep an opportunity in this little town and the good Lord has blessed us,” Ebels says.

In keeping with traditions of family, faith and community, Mark and Dawn raised the fifth generation in the business. Tom, Bob and Laura, and their spouses, are equally versed and committed to crafting the finest products for customers near and far.

Read more stories from the 2022 Brand Update here.