Butchery Olzberg


June 3, 2024

How do you successfully run a craft business over six generations? With Dry Aged Meat and BBQ Courses? With new business areas and customers? Or even with its own regional brand? "Yes," is Othmar Ozlberger's answer. He does all this in his company!

More than just a job

In picturesque Hartkirchen, right next to the village church, the Ozlberger butcher's shop has been located since 1890. The foundation was laid by Alois Ozlberger, great-great-great-grandfather of the current boss. As was customary at the time, agriculture, livestock trade, butcher's shop and inn were under one roof. Over time, the areas of activity were focused. In addition to slaughtering and classic crafts, the main business is now supplying restaurants and company canteens.

How do you manage to pass on a business – and the passion for the profession – from one generation to the next for over 130 years? "I used to walk around here as a little boy," Othmar Ozlberger looks back with a smile. Without pressure, but with pride, his father supported it. "I'm always there when we pick up pigs from farmers." He never had to go to kindergarten on Mondays, because that was slaughter day. The parents never spoke badly about the company at home: "At the same time, I knew that it was not only fun and beautiful." His passion was then followed by a five-year engineering apprenticeship at the HTL Hollabrunn with a focus on "Food Technology and Food Safety", followed by the master craftsman's examination at the butcher's school in Landshut.

Of course, the 35-year-old is happy if one or more of his three children take over the business, in whatever form: "Our daughter, for example, is very interested and wants to do what grandma does." Renate Ozlberger organizes the commercial area and takes care of the branch, including lunch, catering and party service. In addition, mother and son have also divided up the major customers. Father Othmar senior is also still active as a master butcher. "In production, the young employees in particular benefit from his decades of experience," emphasizes the son. And in general, no one cuts schnitzel as accurate to the gram as dad.

"The working atmosphere has to be right. We are a team, go on joint excursions such as curling or knights' dinners - that welds us together!"

Othmar Ozlberger

Stand out from wholesale & co

For a long time, price pressure increased, not least due to international competitors. "We often had to justify the price of our products – and indirectly the better quality," explains Ozlberger. That's why the young master butcher founded his own regional brand "Eferdingerlandl Schwein" a good ten years ago. The pigs come from the district of Eferding, each pig drives less than 20 kilometers to slaughter. At the same time, Ozlberger prescribes feeding for his contract farmers. "Of course, GMO-free. In any case, our farmers use up to 100% feed from their own farm. This increases regionality even more." The surrounding fatteners were immediately on board, also because Ozlberger pays fair prices. But what does the gastro kitchen get out of it? "The company canteens or hospitals we supply are very happy to distinguish the 'Eferdingerlandl Schwein'. It's real regionality that really makes a difference." In total, a good 4,000 pigs are slaughtered per year in the newly renovated slaughterhouse. Othmar Ozlberger sees the introduction of origin labelling as positive. "We have been seeing stronger sales from community caterers since September last year. Origin plays an increasingly important role."

No whining about the new youths?

Even when it comes to skilled workers, the world seems to be in order in Hartkirchen. One employee has just finished training, three are currently still in training. Employees from Slovakia work in the cutting department, for whom there are staff apartments and who would have integrated perfectly into the team after a very short time. "We certainly benefit from the fact that we cover everything from slaughtering to sausage production. So you learn and see everything with us." At the same time, the still agricultural environment helps, because many apprentices come from farms: "The relationship to the animal is just as right as the attitude to work." On top of that, there are exciting training concepts: Anyone who has already completed training as an agricultural skilled worker at the Agricultural College in Waizenkirchen, for example, starts training as a butcher in the second year of training. What is called "employer branding" elsewhere resonates quite naturally in conversation with the young boss: a respectful management style. "The working atmosphere has to be right. We are a team, go on joint excursions such as curling or knights' dinners - that welds us together!"

Semi-finished – full-fledged!

In his manual work, his heart beats for sausage making. "In the early days in the company, that was definitely more than it is now. In the meantime, other activities such as customer acquisition predominate," Ozlberger sums up. And he and mother Renate succeed in doing so extremely successfully. Its operational customers include the most well-known Upper Austrian companies and hospitals. "In addition to the high quality, we are also geographically conveniently located and can travel quickly between the cities of Linz, Wels, Steyr, but also in the Mühlviertel." Large retail chains are also supplied with individual seasonal products.

The business scores points with catering customers and large caterers with well thought-out convenience. This starts with the delivery of ready-to-use flattened schnitzel, foiled in the standardised Euro Box, which eliminates the need for time-consuming slicing of countless vacuum packages. Many semi-finished products are also delivered to canteens fresh and in the best quality. Around 20 different dishes can be produced and delivered in large quantities and with an amazingly short lead time. Stuffed peppers, cabbage rollers or beef roulades are made with vegetables from the Eferding basin and are very popular. "Portion sizes on customer request are no problem for a craft business. At the same time, the table guest in the canteen tastes that it is not frozen from wholesale." Due to fresh ingredients and a lot of manual work, these products deserve the title "homemade". And if a commercial kitchen orders 25,000 meatballs according to its own recipe, these are also produced. In an intelligent way, the Ozlberger family's business closes the gap between quality standards and the shortage of skilled workers in the catering industry. "And in the end, we are more than an 'AT' on a label. Anyone who buys from us knows the family business, can come at any time and the kitchen managers can reach me personally practically around the clock," Ozlberger sums up.

The semi-finished products also show the commercial philosophy behind the success: "You have to be innovative in our industry! There are always trends and they have to be served," the master butcher is certain. When everyone was forced to stay at home during the pandemic and it felt like everyone became a grill master, Ozlberger developed a "steakbook" and pushed his in-house online shop. "The turnover there is not decisive," he clarifies. "But thanks to the online presence, more and more customers come to the store, get advice and buy here." Previously, there was a hype about burgers, which are now on every menu, and here, too, the gastronomy now likes to buy the butcher's quality. "Our goal is to look six months into the future." And those who come to the shop for steaks also like to take part in the legendary barbecue courses. Around ten courses take place per year and here, too, people try to consciously stand out. "We're in a butcher's shop, so we lay down a saddle of beef and explain the cuts of various steaks." The barbecue is done with high-quality pieces, without cheap stomach fillers.