The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 profoundly impacted the lives of many people all around the world, and for Thomas and Darlene Gerding of Davison, it was life-changing. That day, the couple decided that a sense of community was the most important thing in life, and they committed to a career change. “It was that attack that prompted us to take a look at our lives and go in another direction,” said Thomas, a former deejay and owner of Tommie G’s Entertainment. Within ten short months, Thomas took the expertise and skill he had learned years ago from working at the family-owned-and-operated Gerding Packing Company, and he and Darlene opened Davison Bacon & Sausage Works on July 11, 2002. The business, located on Lapeer Road, provides the finest meats and many other all-natural, local foods to the community of Davison and the surrounding area. A little emotional about it, Thomas said it seemed meant to be that My City Magazine interviewed the couple on September 11, 2014.
Just what do you find at DBSW? First and foremost, the aroma of delicious meats. Upon entering the shop, a fragrant, smoky scent immediately makes your mouth water. The shop, which looks like a country store, has shelves holding handmade smoked and fresh sausages of every imaginable kind: Polish kielbasa, Italian, Hungarian, Cajun Andouille, breakfast, you name it! The Gerdings make the sausages on the premises, and nothing is commercially prepared. “We came up with all of the recipes after much trial and error,” laughed Thomas. The shop offers a variety of hand-cut smoked bacon and a line of the finest beef, pork, chicken, rabbit and frog legs, all natural and antibiotic-free. “We are here to serve our customers,” says Thomas, adding that the hamburger they sell isn’t ground until the customer asks for it. Want seafood? DBSW sells Lake Michigan perch and blue gill as well as shrimp, cod and salmon. Customer favorites include a variety of house-made jerkies, all smoked with a hand-made rub. You’ll also find a large assortment of bulk spices, as well as all-natural, free-range eggs.
This time of year is especially busy for DBSW as they process venison. “During deer season, our smokers are running 24 hours a day,” said Thomas. And Darlene is busy, too, making Pans to Go – delectable pulled pork, beef brisket, country-style ribs, roasted chicken and BBQ spare ribs. All of the side dishes are handmade, and one of the favorites is Darlene’s baked beans. “Our busy time runs through the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Darlene. Customers will find prime rib roast, ham and holiday sausage to grace the family table at their holiday gatherings. Right now, it’s time to celebrate fall with a piping hot bowl of soup at DBSW, and Darlene’s homemade soups are guaranteed to warm you up on a crisp autumn day. Soups include white chicken chili, split pea, and bean and potato, to name a few. “Thomas makes a delicious Louisiana gumbo,” boasts Darlene.
If you haven’t been to Davison Bacon & Sausage Works, The Gerdings invite you to stop by for a visit. “Pull up front and take ten steps. Open the door and you’ll be surrounded by everything wonderful,” Thomas says.
How to make sausage
At DBSW, the sausage-making process begins “in the back room.” Their famous Polish Kielbasa is made with beef and pork, hand-ground and hand-mixed with special seasonings. The mixture is stuffed into natural casings and tied, then placed on smoke-sticks that are put into the smoker, which must be constantly tended for 8 to 12 hours. “We’re very proud of what we have accomplished, and it’s no small feat to come up with recipes for bacon and sausage,” says Thomas, whose personal favorite is his Swedish potato sausage.
♦ Photography by Mike Naddeo