Charles Vignieri of Kenosha, the late Frederick Layton of Milwaukee, Norval Dvorak of Manitowoc, and Robert F. Thayer of Madison will be inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame at a noon luncheon May 6 at the Best Western InnTowner in Madison, Wis. (For reservation information, please call Dennis Buege, (608) 262-0555.)
CHARLES VIGNIERI As chairman of Kenosha Beef International and Birchwood, Charles Vignieri has provided an important market for the livestock producers of southeastern Wisconsin. About 1936, young Charles went into the meat business part-time with his father as Frank Vignieri and Son. Through the years, the Vignieris continuously expanded and improved their packing facility. They acquired other companies and merged them into Birchwood Meat and Provision and Kenosha Beef International Ltd. Charles Vignieri was a pioneer in promoting boxed beef during its early development – a procedure that is now used routinely throughout the industry. Thanks to his innovation and determination, his company is recognized as a leader in sanitation techniques and preparation of boxed beef. His modern and attractive plant is a key part of the local community, and provides a high quality product.
FREDERICK LAYTON The Layton name is synonymous with the earliest days of the meat industry in Milwaukee. The economy and the social progress of the city benefited from the business leadership and generosity of Frederick Layton. Born in England, Frederick and his father came to America and opened Laytons Meat Market in 1845. For a time the company was in partnership with John Plankinton. In 1863 Layton & Co. became a full-scale slaughter and packing house. The company employed about 140 people, and its products were noted for high quality. Frederick took over the company when his father died in 1875, and sold his interest in 1901. Layton had become wealthy and his entire fortune was returned to the city of Milwaukee as the endowed Layton Art Gallery and as art gifts now exhibited in the Milwaukee Art Museum. However, he is best remembered here for his pioneering contributions to Wisconsin”s meat industry.
NORVAL DVORAK Norval Dvorak has been a mover and shaker in Wisconsin”s meat and agriculture industries. Born on a family farm, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in agricultural economics. Between 1943 and 1957 he farmed and helped to organize agricultural cooperatives. Between 1957 and 1972, he managed the Wisconsin/Minnesota Feeder Pig Marketing Cooperative and then the Midwest Livestock Producers Cooperative, and was responsible for much of their growth and success. From 1972 until retiring in 1989, he was vice president of corporate growth and development at Packerland Packing Co., where he helped to popularize Holstein steers as quality beef. He now serves as an agricultural consultant to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine. Wherever there is a need, Norval continues to extend his untiring willingness to help.
ROBERT F. THAYER Robert Thayer is certainly “Something Special from Wisconsin.” His livestock work began with 4-H and FFA livestock projects. He joined the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture as livestock marketing specialist in 1953, was named head of the marketing section, and in 1964 became administrator of the marketing division until his retirement in 1985. Bob initiated the marketing logo “Something Special from Wisconsin” in 1983. He served as secretary of the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Association, coordinated Junior Livestock Shows and Sales for 10 years, and helped organize and advise the Wisconsin Livestock and Meat Council. He set up livestock and hospitality seminars for international visitors at World Dairy Expo, and spearheaded the organization of the World Food and Agricultural Foundation, Inc., which developed World Dairy Expo. Thayer is the first government employee to be inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame.