Springfield family business still making mustard

Mustard is one of the most popular condiments in our country today, and mustard types and recipes abound. But they are all basically made up of ground mustard seeds and just a few other ingredients.

In 1905, Carl Woeber founded his mustard business in Springfield, after immigrating from Germany. He brought his own family mustard recipes with him.

“Carl was my great grandfather,” said Chris Woeber, who today is director of operations at Woeber’s. “He started out with just two basic mustards — a horseradish and a traditional German brown mustard.”

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That business, still thriving all these years later, started out in a small building that Woeber said was just a glorified garage located on Madison Avenue in Springfield.

“The neighborhood kept growing up around them,” Woeber said. “And in the 1980s, Ray and Richard Woeber got involved and decided to expand on a plot of land on the west side.”

The business has always been family owned, and today the third and fourth generations of Woebers are involved in the company now located on five acres on Commerce Circle.

“In 2009 we built a distribution center four miles north of Springfield,” Woeber said. “All of our finished products go to that facility for eventually distribution.”

Woeber works closely with his cousins Kevin Nugent, who runs distribution for the company, and Paul Rogero, who is the IT director, and together they make up the executive team. All three of them have fond memories of growing up in the mustard business.

“I started helping out summers while I was in high school,” said Rogero, who has always had a passion for technology. “Back then, we only had a handful of computers and now we are well over 100!”

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Technology isn’t the only thing that has changed at Woeber’s. The company’s product line has grown significantly and now includes a variety of mustards, from sweet and spicy to hot to traditional American “yellow” mustard to even “craft beer” specialty mustard. And Woeber’s produces mayonnaise and other sauce products as well

“I started working here when I was about nine years old,” Woeber said. “I feel very lucky to have grown up around the original plant.”

Woeber admits he did look at other options after going to college in New York state. He lived in New York City for six years but eventually felt the pull of family and home and returned to Springfield 14 years ago to work at the company his great grandfather started.

“I was excited to return home and get to work with my father (Richard Woeber) and my uncle (Ray Woeber),” Woeber said. “I was a communications major and learned a lot about marketing, which has really helped expand our businesses.”

Nugent said he worked “on and off” at his family’s company throughout high school. He ended up graduating from the Ohio State University with a business/operations management degree and returned to work full time for Woeber’s a decade ago. He commutes from Columbus each day to Springfield.

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“Growing up, I always thought I might end up working here,” Nugent said. “It’s a great family company and everyone here works very hard. I’ve had a tremendous sense of pride for my family and the business since I was very young.”

Many people may not realize that this popular mustard and condiment brand is another hometown “original.”

“Our brand is starting to get out there and we are doing more marketing,” Nugent said. “We’ve grown so much compared to even ten years ago.”

The company is constantly looking to its most important source — its customers — when developing new products, listening to what they say and looking at trends.

“The spice level increases every year,” Woeber said. “People want spicier and spicier products. We even have a 10x horseradish now!”

Gloria Woeber, the matriarch of the family, mother of Ray and Richard and grandmother of Nugent, Rogero and Chris Woeber, is still involved in the business, coming in about three days a week to help with mail and payroll.

“We always tell people that we are really fortunate to be in Springfield,” Woeber said. “We have a great group of folks working here and the local folks support us. Our company has been around for more than 100 years and we’ve been able to keep going because of our long tenured employees and the Springfield community.”

For more information, log on to www.woebermustard.com

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