Since I was a child, I’ve always had a passion for food and cooking. Around 25 years ago, my wife and I purchased a vintage farmhouse with some acreage, which was a win-win situation for us; being that I’ve always wanted to own a large piece of property and my wife loves older homes. As a hobby, I began raising livestock (steer, pigs, and goats) in order to assure that I’d have the freshest meat possible when cooking for both family and friends. Gaining a more inquisitive nature towards the butchering portion of the process, I decided to do some research and seek a butcher in the business who would be willing to become a mentor to me and teach me the trade.
About 15 years ago, my search for this special person came to an end when I met Guenther “Hank” Schineller. I asked him if he would be willing to train me, working solely for the opportunity to learn; I did not expect any financial restitution in return for my work. Initially, Hank declined, because he wanted no part of training an inexperienced person such as myself. This was understandable, because I was dealing with one of the best German Wurstmachers on the East Coast. Eventually, because of my persistence, Hank finally agreed to teach me the trade.
After several years working as Hank’s apprentice, I felt confident enough to branch out on my own. It was time to apply the priceless knowledge Hank gave me and put it to the test, by starting my own business. I began butchering in a one-car garage on our property, as I did not have a butcher shop built at the time. That first year, catering specifically to local hunters during deer season, I proudly processed 40 deer.
Each following year, not only was my business expanding, but my passion continued to grow stronger as well. The one-car garage was no longer sufficient for my business, as I wanted to expand and begin making the specialty meat items that Hank taught me to produce. At this point, I decided to build myself a butcher shop on our property. As the years passed, my business continued to grow enough that I needed to put an addition onto the shop. My shop now consists of two smokehouses, two large walk-in coolers and freezers, along with all of the machinery and equipment required to process the specialty items for my customers.
My family is very involved with helping me in the business and the greatest reward of my passion is when customers tell me how much they enjoy the products I make. The special person in my life who I owe the success of my business to is my friend, Guenther Schineller. I will never forget one comment Hank told me, “Nello, if you give a customer a quality product, they will return. If you give them anything less, they won’t.” Those words will stick with me forever … I take much pride in the quality products I make for my customers.
Today, I process an average of 1,000 deer each year, along with Elk, Buffalo, Moose, Caribou, Mule and Red Deer, etc. I also process meat, making specialty meat items, for four other butcher shops.
Hank passed away on the afternoon of Saturday, November 15, 2008. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends, but his spirit will always live on with all of us.
In memory of my friend Hank, I want to give thanks to him for the personal gifts he gave to me. His guidance, patience, knowledge, and most importantly, his friendship, will always be part of my life. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to meet this very special person who had a positive influence in my life and helped me tremendously make my business as successful as it is today.