Hahn’s of Westminster, located at 440 Hahn Road, is in many ways the same as it was when it opened 100 years ago in 1918.
Employees in white coats still smoke and cure, slice and package fresh ham and bacon in cold rooms full of metal machinery — but instead of 20 people working in the plant, that number has grown to 80.
And the business has added coffee roasting to its specialties as of 1998.
“We have grown leaps and bounds,” said Vicki Norris, manager of the Pork & Beans Store, from the building next to the meat plant. “We started doing our own signature coffees, we do the deli — which was renovated about a year ago — and it’s really taken off.”
On a recent weekday morning, she walked over to a corner of the shop where the coffee roaster whirred. The roaster stood next to large barrels of coffee beans stacked in front of portraits of the business’s prior owners: Hahn, Redmer, Myers.
Little wrote that a friend, Mary Anne Marley, also worked there and that she remained a very good friend even as she later moved to Boston.
Marley’s last name is now Leister, and she worked at Hahn’s from 1946 to 1947. Leister wrote a letter to Hahn’s on Oct. 26, 2017.
“I started by slicing bacon,” Leister wrote. “It was a cold job. I was not very comfortable in that placement.
“I asked this to be changed,” she wrote. “I was then placed at the main office at the top of the hill working the phone service and checking sales tickets. At that time, Helen Helwig and Jack Hahn’s offices were in that building.
“Mr. Joseph Hahn would often come in the office to chat with Mrs. Helwig or anyone that happened to be available,” wrote Leister. “He was a delightful gentleman. He enjoyed people and he was loved and respected by all who knew him.”
According to the Hahn’s of Westminster website, William F. Myers of Pleasant Valley established his meat packing business in 1896.
Later, his two daughters married Joseph and Norval Hahn and they created Hahn’s of Westminster in 1918.
In 1948, Henry F. Redmer Jr. was recruited from the National Biscuit Company by his cousins at Hahn’s to help sell their meat in Baltimore, and by 1968 deliveries were being made to Virginia, Washington, D.C., and southern Pennsylvania.
Redmer’s cousins, who owned Wm. F. Myers & Sons, retired in 1981 and at that point the business merged with Hahn’s.
The business was only sold in 2006, to employees Ed and Jessica Ladzinski.
Barry Blevin, vice president of operations, and Charlie Fogle, production manager, put on their white coats, hair and beard nets Tuesday morning before walking into the plant’s first room.
The first room used to be dedicated to sausage and hot dogs when he started in 1981, Fogle said, but now it is dedicated to making what he calls ham “nuggets” — 1.75-pound balls of ham wrapped in a textured casing.
When they walked through the door ahead of them, they were met with the smell of smoked bacon.
“Any time you drive by and it smells good, it’s this,” Blevin said pointing at two huge racks of bacon.
One had raw pork bellies hanging from it, and the other had smoked raw bacon on it that was darker.
“We do 20 to 28 racks of bacon a day,” said Blevin, pointing to two huge racks — one with raw bacon and one with darker raw, smoked bacon on it to show the difference between the two.
“There are 94 bellies per rack,” he said, “with two bellies per pig, that’s almost 50 pigs per rack.”
“That’s a lot of hogs,” said Fogle.
Another room is dedicated just to cooking and smoking meats — and downstairs a metal vat was bubbling with water, cooking plastic-wrapped roast beef. In the adjacent room, men were using thick metal hooks to unpack a fresh delivery.
No meats go back to a room they came from in order to prevent cross-contamination, Blevin said.
The last room on their tour of the facility was the bacon room. Machines for every step of the placement, shrink-wrapping and packing process were accompanied by workers.
‘We used to do all of this by hand,” Fogle said. “We used to cut and lay out bacon by hand — now there’s a machine.
“Upstairs we used to hang all the bacon from trees and then push it back into the [smoke]house,” he said. Now there are racks for the meat.
Operations Manager Ron Cook has worked at the plant for a long time too, 26 years. He said he’s seen many changes over time, too.
“The fact that at the plant we don’t do any raw cuts anymore [is a change],” he said. “They were still cutting up carcasses to sell fresh meat to Baltimore. They had all their own trucks to do delivery.
“Now tractor trailers come and pick them up,” he said.
Fogle said there are eight or nine different kinds of bacon and all sorts of other products that are produced depending on the day.
“Our focus has changed on our product, focusing on what we are good at, hams and bacons,” co-owner Jessica Ladzinski said upstairs in the cafe, shortly after the lunch rush.
“We try to keep a family business focus even thought he employee base is growing,” she said.
She also said that even when they take customer requests, they make sure to keep their standards high, and she believes quality is what has kept Hahn’s of Westminster a viable business throughout the years.
“We’ve always been more about quality than quantity,” she said. “People ask for spiral cut hams for the holidays. We can’t believe people are asking for that junk — it’s a low-quality high-volume product.
We stick to traditional bone-in and boneless hams,” Ladzinski said. “You want to taste the ham, not all the other stuff. We focus on quality and small batches.
“And when it comes to coffee,” she said, “we only get the best coffee beans and roast them ourselves.”
Hahn’s Pork & Beans is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed Sunday. More information, including contact information for the store, can be found on the business’s website: www.porkandbeansstore.com.