Woeber Mustard goes beyond a Springfield staple as a brand recognized across the globe

After more than a century in Springfield, a few things have changed at Woeber Mustard Company.

The business has new products, new flavors and new customers around the world. Products that used to be delivered in a station wagon can now be packaged in 5,000-gallon tankers.

But the basics haven’t changed, says Christopher Woeber, the company’s director of operations. Stone mills are still used to make the mustards, just as they always were. And the business that his great-grandfather Carl Woeber founded in 1905 as an immigrant from Germany still calls Clark County home, with every single one of its products made in Springfield.

“We kind of mix the old and new,” Woeber says.

Now Woeber products are sold in 25 countries, including South Korea, Saudi Arabia and China, he says.

While the company’s yellow mustard and vinegar are among the most popular products, it differentiates itself from the competition with a wide variety of specialty items and unique flavors. These include cranberry horseradish sauce, siracha mustard, and flavored mayonnaise, including a mayo ketchup that is popular in Latin America.

“The customers are really adventurous now and are looking for new products they haven’t tried before,” Woeber says.

Condiment-lovers can sample Woeber’s products themselves at the annual MustardFEST 2021, to be held Sept. 17 and 18.

The Woeber Mustard Recipe Cook-Off will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 17, at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co., 102 W. Columbia St. The festival continues on Sept. 18 with the Champion City Wiener Dog Race from 1 to 2 p.m. at National Road Commons Park, 21 Fisher St., and additional events at Mother Stewart’s, including Woeber’s samples from noon to 4 p.m., a German band, and food trucks like Schmidt’s. Events are free and conclude at 9 p.m.

The 2019 MustardFEST saw the debut of one newer product, the spicy honey mustard called Mrs. Mustard. Festivalgoers sampled and were asked their opinions, like whether it was too spicy or too sweet. The company knew it was on the right track when it got such a good response, Woeber says.

“Our own development is a little more old-school,” he says. “We work on it in-house and tweak it.”

Woeber attributes the company’s success as a long-time family business in part to such a hands-on approach. Current owners Ray and Richard Woeber, brothers who became the third generation in the business, have worked hard to expand into different products and to distribute out of state.

Christopher Woeber – Richard’s son – began working at the company during summers and school breaks at age 9, with jobs like sweeping, stapling boxes and setting up bottles for the line. He has since worked in multiple areas of the business, including production, purchasing, sales and logistics.

“It’s been fascinating to see the growth,” he says.

That growth includes the company’s move from its previous facility on Madison Avenue to the opening of its manufacturing plant on Commerce Circle and a distribution center on Urbana Road. The business that once employed about 10 people now has more than 200 employees who cover three shifts, six to seven days per week.

Woeber’s yellow mustard is one of the most common products, sold to customers in packaging from 1-ounce packets to 5,000-gallon tankers, he says. Bulk customers use it as an ingredient for foods, such as mustard-based barbecue sauces, potato salads and macaroni salads.

Vinegar is another item regularly sold in bulk, to clients such as salsa and pickling companies. What’s more, organic farmers use the company’s higher-strength vinegar as an herbicide, avoiding the chemical alternatives, Woeber says.

Another popular item is the horseradish sauce - of which Woeber is considered the national brand, he says - and the spicy Mister Mustard also has a large number of admirers.

Woeber brands include Simply Supreme, Mayo Gourmet, Supreme Dips and more. Between 50 percent and 60 percent of the company’s business is for private labels, such as for store chains.

“You may not know it’s made at Woeber Mustard,” he says.

The company’s success as a major condiment manufacturer is a selling point for Springfield, says Chris Schutte, vice president for destination marketing and communications for The Greater Springfield Partnership. The support within the community and its ability to find the employees and space it needed to grow show that other companies, too, can find success here.

“It makes Springfield a more marketable business location,” says Schutte, who is Woeber’s uncle by marriage.

Local residents feel pride in the products as well, often posting on social media about their Woeber sightings in other locales.

“There’s a cachet to the fact that we have the leaders of an industry based here,” Schutte says.

The company’s products have a strong following, Woeber says, but it wants to become a brand that even more Ohioans know well and have pride in. Earlier this year, Ohio Magazine named its horseradish sauce one of the state’s 50 famous foods.

“We want our product to be across the country of course, but we also want to have a strong presence in Ohio,” Woeber says.

Woeber Mustard Company does the basics really well, and yet it has come a long way from those basics, Woeber says. The company continues to look toward developing new products and finding new fans.

“We keep the traditions in place but also bring something new to customers,” he says.

Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

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