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September 23, 1994 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-09-23

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ne glance around Marshall Loewenstein's
office and it isn't difficult to figure out
that he likes to talk turkey. All types
' of turkey figurines and images grace
the walls and furniture.
This is the nerve center of Loewen-
stein Poultry, a 100-year-old family-
run business, headquartered in Taylor,
/ that specializes in holiday gift turkeys.
The food business is tough and com-
petitive. Mr. Loewenstein attributes his corn-
pany's longevity to hard work, a dedication


to service and a willingness to change with
the times.
"We've always tried to be innovative, to
stay ahead of things, unlike some companies
... we've tried to change to meet the demands
of our customers," Mr. Loewenstein says.
Mr. Loewenstein says family has been a
strength and an asset to the business. His
wife Phyllis, son Rick, 34, and daughter Judy
(Loewenstein Roberts), 39, all hold active
roles in the company. Now that a fourth gen-
eration is helping to run operations, it's safe
to say poultry is a tra-
dition in the Loewen-
stein family.
The company par-
allels some of the ear-
liest memories
Detroiters might
have of the city's Jew-
ish community. The
business was
launched by Mr.
Loewenstein's great
uncle Louis in 1894,
The busy season when shoppers would.
has begun for the flock to the family
store in the old Gra-
family —Judy, tiot Central Market
Rick, Phyllis and
on Cadillac Square to
buy fresh, live birds.
In some cases, the
poultry was hawked
of pushcarts.
In 1941, Marshall Loewenstein's
father, Max, bought the business
and began moving into wholesaling,
distributing poultry to local hotels
and restaurants. By the mid 1950's,
Loewenstein Poultry had phased out
retail operations and gone strictly
By this time, Marshall, fresh out
of Michigan State University, had
entered the business.
This was around the same time
the gift business was born. It devel-
oped after some of the company's
customers asked about sending
turkeys to associates and employ- .
ees during the holidays.
"We kind of sidled into the gift
turkey business," says Mr. Loewen-
Over the next 40 years, that side-
light became the company's main-
stay. Loewenstein Poultry is the
largest provider of gift turkeys in
the country. It sells 300,000 indi-
vidually-boxed gift turkeys a year,
mostly between September and De-
cember, as well as gift boxes of ham,
top quality steaks and cheeses.
The company markets its "Chefs
Pride" label in eight states. The birds

Loewenstein Poultry, the nation's largest
provider of gift turkeys, is ready to begin
its second century.






are specially processed to Loewenstein Poul-
try's own specifications.
With the bulk of the gift turkey business
coming during a four-month period, it's hec-
tic to get all the orders filled and delivered on
time. Loewenstein Poultry can do $3-$4 mil-
lion in business in eight weeks.
Mr. Loewenstein says the company is de-
voted to making all the deliveries happen
with as few hitches as possible. To fill the or-
ders over such a short time span, Loewen-
stein Poultry musters a seasonal work force
of sales people and drivers who have been
with the company for years.
'We have a very good work ethic here as it
relates to customers," Mr. Loewenstein says.
"They are No. 1."
"We deliver to businesses on the day and
at the time of day they specify, even if it's four
in the morning or midnight to cover a shift,"
says Ms. Loewenstein Roberts.
It's that attention to service that has cre-
ated a loyal, longtime customer base.
"We were using another source for our gift
turkeys," says Aaron Kraft, vice president of
Serta Mattress Company in Detroit. 'The de-
livery was coming either too late in the day
or too early in the morning. The birds would
either thaw out or employees would have to
stand around and wait."
Mr. Kraft says his company switched to
Loewenstein Poultry 10 years ago and has
been satisfied with the product and service.
Another reason Loewenstein Poultry's gift
turkey business is doing well is its 95 percent
customer retention rate. Once people try the
Chefs Pride birds and sample the service,
says Mr. Loewenstein, they become longtime
That means meeting all customer de-
mands, including requests for kosher turkeys.
"We do that as a convenience for our cus-
tomers," says Ms. Loewenstein Roberts. "If
we sell 300,000 regular turkeys, we might do
1,000 kosher birds."
Several of Loewensteins' customers are
themselves longtime Detroit businesses.
Evan Weiner, CEO of Edw. C. Levy Co., a
75-year-old construction materials company,
says when his firm gives gift turkeys, it's his
company's reputation that's at stake.
"We've been giving gift turkeys and hams
to our clients for years," says Mr. Weiner.
"We've sent the (Loewenstein Poultry) prod-
uct to customers across the country and nev-
er had anything but thank-you notes. When
it comes to giving a perishable food product,
you need peace of mind. You're counting on
"There are many companies in that busi-
ness. If Loewenstein Poultry has been doing
it for 100 years, they must have the best prod-
uct, a great price and the best service. They've

BIRD page 32

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