WAPAKONETA — For the past 172 years, Wapakoneta has served as home for a family-owned business that continues to grow and evolve six generations later.
From a tanner of animal hides to a state-of-the art rendering company that is an industry leader in the recycling of unused animal parts, G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. has been a staple in Auglaize County since being formed in the early 1920s.
The real origins of the company go back even further, before Abraham Lincoln was president, when Gotlieb Machatanz was trading for animal hides with the Shawnee Indians. In 1848 Machatanz’ nephew, Charles Wintzer, moved to Wapakoneta and joined what less than 10 years later would became the Charles Wintzer Tanning Co.
Fast-forward a half-century or so, and the G.A. Wintzer & Son Co. replaced the tanning business and added to its business model commercial rendering — the recycling of animal parts unfit for human consumption and into a variety of commercial products.
In 1943, Frederick Wintzer took over the family business. A few years later, the plant burned to the ground. A new rendering plant was built just south of Wapakoneta at its current location, along county Road 25A.
In 1989, Fred’s eldest son, Gus, and third son, Carl, took over as president and vice president. Carl passed away a few years ago, but his son, Marcus, serves today as the vice president of environmental operations at G.A. Wintzer & Son.
Sean Wintzer, son of Gus and grandson of Frederick, is the general vice president at the company today.
“What we do is not sexy, but it’s essential,” he said of the rendering business. “Without rendering, landfills in this country would be full in four years.”
Wintzer said roughly 50% of an animal is considered inedible. The rendering process reclaims the unused meat, bone and fat and transforms them into ingredients for products ranging from additives for pet and livestock feeds to biofuel.
The company’s fleet of 200 tractor-trailer rigs travels more than 2 million miles a year throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and West Virginia to pick up used cooking oils and food scraps from restaurants, grocery stores, butcher shops and “mom and pop” butchering shops, Sean Wintzer said.
The rendered products are used to produce livestock feed, fertilizer and biofuel additives and are also used is everyday household and industrial products.
Wintzer & Son corporate officials believe in being active in the community.
“All of us here in the office are involved in one or more local service organization. We all live here, and we’re raising our families here. We try to do our part when and where we can. If you’re able … you should,” Sean Wintzer said.
Wintzer said the future success of the company boils down to a few simple tenets.
“We are constantly trying to keep ahead of the curve inside the industry,” Sean Wintzer said. “We’re always looking for quality and consistency in our finished products and how to fine-tune them. But most importantly, we’re always striving to offer the best customer service possible.”