Three generations into the business, Don and Greg Goeglein still operate by the same principles on which their catering company was founded: Serve God. Serve People. Serve Food. These values and the relationships they have built run deep. The continued success of the company proves that they work.
When Raymond and Viola Goeglein, converted the barn on their Maysville Road homestead into a square dance hall in 1951, they had no idea how far it would go. Entrepreneurial at heart, Raymond Goeglein started several businesses over the years, always looking for the right opportunity. When the Goegleins started serving food at their dance hall, they found the combination that would last. The couple sold the business to their sons Larry and Jerry in 1973.
The second generation Goegleins continued to grow the business, eventually adding off-site catering to the mix. Larry and Jerry worked hard to build the business into one of the area’s most popular catering companies, respected for its good food and excellent service. When they sold the company in 1998 to their own sons, cousins, Don and Greg, the business barely missed a beat.
Since the beginning, Goeglein’s Catering has treated its people like good friends. Whether customers, employees or vendors, everyone receives the same respect and a do-unto-others attitude rooted in the family’s Christian beliefs. For customers, that means that whatever event Goeglein’s is catering, it is the “most important event that day,” says Greg.
To reinforce this focus throughout the organization, the company has created a hostess program that gives key employees responsibility for the parties they serve. These people take ownership of every detail and have the authority to do whatever it takes to make sure things turn out right—even if that means telling the boss what to do.
“You’re no better than your last party,” says Larry. Whether a wedding, an important event or a funeral dinner that celebrates the life of a loved one, Goeglein’s believes every event is a celebration and feels privileged to be part of it.
The family spirit that runs through this company extends to its workers, who the Goegleins say are the backbone of the company. Greg emphasizes that once you start working for this company, you become a friend.
Nowhere are the rewards of this attitude more evident than in the fact that people stay with Goeglein’s; some have worked with all three generations. In addition, in its 60 years of operation, Goeglein’s has never placed an advertisement for employment. Workers simply refer their friends. The result is a tight-knit organization that repeatedly garners comments like, “Your people are the best,” from both vendors and customers.
The same sense of service and respect also underscores the company’s relationships with its vendors, and the benefits are clear. Those relationships have earned Goeglein’s Catering exclusive or semi-exclusive agreements with several local venues. In venues where Goeglein’s does not have specific agreements, the company’s reputation ensures it is always welcome.
Current owners, Don and Greg, and former owners, Larry and Jerry, know that operating a family business and keeping it viable for three generations is a difficult endeavor. Avoiding rivalries, setting and striving for common goals, and staying profitable, all while navigating personal family relationships, present a unique set of challenges not found in business-only partnerships. That they have done so successfully is a testament to their commitment to the business and to each other. They are proud of the company they have built.
When asked what pleases them most about the continued success of Goeglein’s Catering, their answers revolve around a common theme: the people and the principles. The family heritage, the camaraderie and the commitment to the original values bring meaning to what they do. Don says that he feels as if he and Greg fill a stewardship role, nurturing and growing the business that has been entrusted to them.
Goeglein’s Catering still operates at its original Maysville Road location, although the barn-turned-square-dance-venue has since been converted into a series of banquet halls. The original farmhouse serves as the company’s offices, and the company has added the Kendallville Event Center to its portfolio as a venue it owns and operates. In addition, Goeglein’s supports its traditional catering services with an online ordering option available through its website. Although the company has certainly evolved over the past 60 years, it is still easy to recognize, both inside and out. The heart of the company and the values that drive its business remain as strong today as the day Goeglein’s first opened its doors.
Owner(s): Don Goeglein and Greg Goeglein
Address: 7311 Maysville Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46815
Phone: (260) 749-5192
Years in Business: 60
Number of Employees: 15 full-time, 150 part-time
Products & Services: On- and off-site catering services, banquet hall rental, full decorating services