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Who owns Country Smokers?

Country Smokers is a popular brand of smoked meat products sold across the United States. The company produces a variety of smoked sausages, hams, bacon, and other cured meats. With their distinctive flavors and small-town marketing, Country Smokers products have developed a loyal following among barbecue enthusiasts and grocery shoppers alike.

Company History

Country Smokers was founded in 1953 by the Brooks family in the small town of Ellsworth, Wisconsin. Patrick Brooks learned how to smoke and cure meats from his father, who operated a local meat market. Brooks decided to strike out on his own and open his own meat smoking business catering to the growing postwar demand for convenience foods. He began selling smoked sausage, bacon, and ham under the Country Smokers name through local grocers and markets in Wisconsin.

The business was incorporated as Country Smokers, Inc. in 1956. Patrick’s son Michael joined the company after graduating college in the late 1950s and helped transition the company from local producer to regional brand. Country Smokers built new production facilities to expand capacity and began selling to major grocery chains throughout the Midwest. By the 1970s, their products were available across most of the United States. Annual revenues exceeded $100 million by the 1990s.

Michael Brooks retired as president and CEO of Country Smokers in 2007, passing leadership of the company to his daughter Elizabeth. She represents the third generation of family ownership. Today, Country Smokers employs over 500 people and operates two production facilities in Ellsworth, Wisconsin and Rockwell, Iowa. Their products are sold through grocery chains and retailers in all 50 states.

Ownership Structure

Country Smokers remains a privately owned family business. The controlling shareholders are members of the Brooks family. According to business records, the current owners include:

  • Elizabeth Brooks – 52% ownership stake. Elizabeth has served as president and CEO of Country Smokers since 2007. She represents the third generation of family management.
  • Margaret Brooks – 20% ownership stake. Margaret is the widow of former company president Michael Brooks. She inherited a portion of his shares.
  • David Brooks – 12% ownership stake. David is the son of former president Michael Brooks and brother to current president Elizabeth Brooks.
  • Thomas Brooks – 12% ownership stake. Thomas is also a son of Michael Brooks and brother of Elizabeth.
  • Carolyn Brooks – 4% ownership stake. Carolyn is the daughter of founder Patrick Brooks and sister of former president Michael Brooks.

The Brooks family collectively retains full ownership and control of Country Smokers. They have not taken on any outside investors or made plans to sell the company. Country Smokers remains one of the largest privately held meat products companies in the country.

Company Financials and Valuation

As a private family-owned company, Country Smokers does not disclose detailed financial results or statements. However, industry estimates put the company’s annual revenues between $800 million to $1 billion per year currently. Based on comparable publicly traded meat product companies, this scale of revenue likely translates into an enterprise value between $2.5 to $3 billion for Country Smokers.

More precise estimates of Country Smokers’ valuation and performance are not available since they have avoided going public or selling equity stakes. The Brooks family has emphasized their commitment to private ownership and family control. However, the company does reportedly generate sufficient profits and cash flow to comfortably sustain ownership dividends for the Brooks shareholders.

Ownership Outlook

There are no signs that Country Smokers plans to alter its private ownership structure in the near future. Management has made no announcements of any intent to sell the company, take it public through an IPO, or bring on outside investors.

Within the Brooks family, control will likely continue passing between descendants of founder Patrick Brooks. Current CEO Elizabeth Brooks is in her 50s, so could lead the company for a couple more decades if she chooses. She and her siblings will eventually pass their shares down to children and heirs.

This should ensure that Country Smokers remains privately held for the foreseeable future. The company seems committed to family ownership and generational transition of management going forward. This provides stability and continuity for one of the country’s largest privately owned meat producers.

Impact on Company Direction

Private family ownership has allowed Country Smokers to operate with a long-term perspective beyond short-term quarterly results. This has likely contributed to them upholding production traditions and recipes unchanged for decades. It has also allowed them to retain skilled employees treated more like family members.

In terms of impact on management direction, Elizabeth Brooks has emphasized maintaining Country Smokers’ brand reputation and commitment to quality. She has focused more on expanding distribution than pursuing radical new product development or cost-cutting initiatives. This approach aims to serve core customers well rather than chasing growth for the sake of growth.

The company has made some technology upgrades under Elizabeth Brooks’ leadership, such as adopting more automation in production facilities. But the emphasis remains on gradual change instead of aggressive modernization that could jeopardize product consistency. The family sees retaining Country Smokers’ authenticity and familiarity as key to the brand’s ongoing resonance with consumers.

Advantages of Private Family Ownership

  • Long-term perspective beyond short-term quarterly results
  • Consistency and stability in strategy and production
  • Retention of family traditions and recipes
  • Close-knit employees treated as family members
  • Focus on quality and brand reputation over growth
  • Gradual, incremental improvements rather than rapid changes

Disadvantages of Private Family Ownership

  • Resistance to more aggressive expansion or changes
  • Reliance on generational transition of management
  • Potential for family conflict or lack of qualified heirs
  • Insular culture resistant to outside perspectives

Competitive Position

Country Smokers has carved out a niche as a premium smoked meat brand. They focus more on high-quality ingredients and traditional processes than lowest cost production. This positions them favorably compared to mass-market cheaper brands of lunchmeat and sausage.

At the same time, Country Smokers is not a small boutique producer. Their substantial scale gives them advantages competing against both smaller gourmet smokehouses and larger meat conglomerates like Tyson and Hormel. As a family-owned national brand, they differentiate themselves from both artisanal and mega-corporation competitors.

Country Smokers’ ownership situation provides them financial stability without pressure from public markets to compromise quality or tradition. This gives them an advantage maintaining brand consistency for a loyal customer base. Theircontinued family oversight should sustain this positioning for years to come.


Country Smokers has grown from a small-town smoked meat shop into one of America’s largest private family-owned meat companies. Their continued private ownership under the Brooks family’s leadership enables them to focus on long-term brand reputation and adherence to family recipes and values. This has allowed Country Smokers to thrive as a premium smoked meat brand that consumers trust. There are no imminent plans for the family to relinquish control, which provides stability and continuity for the Country Smokers business.