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Fabricating

Packin’ it in

By Colin Linneweber

This story was originally published as a web exclusive and updated for the July/August 2016 Top WebEx issue.

Food vendor celebrates milestone by serving a giant bratwurst roasted on an epic stainless steel grill

July/August 2016 - Although the Packers failed to capture their third Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2015, an unofficial world record was established at their iconic venue last September in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

While the Packers played the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, a 120-yard-long bratwurst weighing 250 lbs. sizzled in Lambeau Field’s parking lot on a 370-ft.-long stainless steel grill manufactured by Badger Sheet Metal Works (BSMW). BSMW, sheet metal fabricators established in 1923 and based roughly five miles south of the “frozen tundra” in Green Bay, built the grill to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Delaware North, a food and beverage vendor that caters to Packers fans. 

FFJ 07816 grill image1

Most of BSMW’s stainless steel fabrication work is for the medical, bottling, food and dairy industries. The grill was a custom project that required assembling, bending, cutting, rolling and welding. BSMW spent nearly 30 hours laser cutting and fabricating the sausage grill from 37 10-ft. sections of 16-gauge, grade 430 stainless steel. The grated cooking surfaces were made by shearing sections of perforated metal. The colossal grill was completed in seven days and delivered to the stadium on a Friday, about 48 hours before the Packers and Bears kicked off in Week 1.

Johnsonville Sausage, located in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, supplied the massive amount of meat—nicknamed “Jay Cutler” because the Bears’ quarterback is used to “getting smoked” by the Packers—plus 225 bags of charcoal. The project management team of the food vendor, Delaware North, handled many logistical matters. 

Quick fix

Paul Adamski, the director of sales at BSMW who helped organize the event, claims the grill was simple to construct. He recalls his colleagues encountered only one minor problem during the feast. 

FFJ 07816 grill image2

About 3,000 people attended a private event hosted by Badger Sheet Metal Works, which fabricated the 370-ft.-long grill to cook a 250-lb. bratwurst.

“We had some heat issues at first,” says Adamski, whose wife, Coral, is a Packers season ticket holder. “With such heat on stainless steel, you can expect some warpage. Fortunately, fabricated steel is the core of our business and we had a crew of fabricators on site. We removed the perforated stainless steel grate, sprayed it with water to cool it down, spread around the coals, and then put the grate back on. It was a quick fix.” 

The event generated little revenue for BSMW but the celebration raised roughly $40,000 for multiple Green Bay charities, including the local chapter of the Humane Society, and created tremendous publicity for BSMW in a region where there are nearly as many metal fabricators as Cheeseheads, according to Adamski.

“Delaware North sold sponsors whose names we laser-cut into the sections for charity,” he says. “We managed to help out Delaware North and create something fun for our Packers-loving community. Plus, with about 20 metal fabricators across 30 miles, it was nice to stand out.” 

FFJ 07816 grill image3

Adamski praises countless people for helping make the event such a success, but he especially applauded the efforts of Mike Athey, a BSMW programmer and designer. Athey designed the grill and all the cuts for sponsors’ logos. After Athey created a layout of his vision, the shop’s Amada FO 4020NT laser machine embedded the logos, including those of BSMW and Delaware North, into the steel. BSMW sent a miniature model of the grill to Delaware North and the concessionaire’s staff responded that they were thrilled with its look.

Getting noticed

“I love challenges and designing things and I was very excited to be able to do this fun project,” says Athey, who began working at BSMW in 2010. “All the behind-the-scenes stuff with Packers marketing professionals and having a chance to work directly with fabricators was pretty cool. It was also great to get noticed by ‘Good Morning America,’ The Washington Post and Sports Illustrated Extra Mustard.”

Because half the state population would have liked to join the anniversary celebration in Titletown USA (so named by business boosters back in 1961), the event was a private affair for approximately 3,000 employees, vendors, sponsors and members of their respective families. These fans watched the game on wide-screen television sets. 

FFJ 07816 grill image4

The bratwurst’s length doesn’t match the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest sausage, which was 39 miles. However, the staffs of BSMW, Johnsonville Sausage and Delaware North probably don’t regret missing out on the fame of appearing in the pages of Guinness.

After all, metal artistry was displayed, every bit of sausage was consumed, and the Packers “smoked” the Chicago Bears with a score of 31-23. 

Touchdown! FFJ

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