Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage is an award-winning, Milwaukee-based small family business with deep roots in the community, and a product that’s regionally celebrated. It all began in the 1960s, when Glorious Malone and her husband, George, began selling their homemade Southern-style headcheese at their grocery store. Glorious improved the recipe over time, and it became very popular – so popular, in fact, that customers started buying it and reselling it across state lines. Glorious discovered this when she got a visit from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Meat Inspection Division. That’s when Malone’s Fine Sausage, Inc. was born. Glorious became the first African American woman in the United States to get meat inspection accreditation from the USDA, and to own and run a federally inspected plant.
When Daphne Jones took over the family business in 2007, she changed the name to Glorious Malone’s in honour of her mother. Then she set about upgrading the company, modernizing and aligning everything to work more smoothly – new machines, delivery trucks, new partnerships with local universities and management programs, and more. And to facilitate that work, she brought her business to BMO.
“I was looking for a bank that could be a partner for the growth I’d envisioned for the business,” says Daphne. “One of the consultants I was working with recommended BMO. Interestingly, one advisor suggested that we weren’t ready for BMO, but I felt that I was – and BMO agreed.”
Daphne’s confidence runs in the family. When asked about the issues her mother faced as a Black woman business owner in the 60s, Daphne says, “She talked about the challenges, and the ever-present assumptions about her and her product just because she was a Black woman. She faced that everyday, no matter how much she accomplished. But she wouldn’t let people talk down to her, or mansplain to her, or tell her what she was capable of. That’s part of why she made it a priority to lift up her community – she wanted her success to be shared by everyone around her.”
Glorious built her manufacturing plant in Milwaukee’s historic King Drive neighbourhood, which contributed to the revitalization of the area. And she supported her community with food, jobs and other assistance. “At her funeral, so many people talked about how Glorious gave their family credit so they could buy groceries, or gave them a couple extra dollars to sweep floors at the store,” says Daphne. “She was always helping people in need.”
As Daphne’s business has grown, she’s remained focused on reinvesting in the Black community, carrying on her mother’s legacy. “We’re committed to using our small patch of earth as a resource and opportunity for people in need of a break or help,” says Daphne. “We’ve tried to help people who are re-entering the workforce, giving them jobs when it’s hard for them to find employment. With that comes the work of how to offer training that serves both the business and the employees. It requires a bit more effort on our part, but it’s worth it.” Daphne adds that many of the people they’ve trained and employed have become part of the Malone’s extended family – and helped make it the successful business it is today.
Growth can be challenging for a small business like Malone’s, which must apply limited resources to everything they have to do – selling online, finding new markets, shipping costs and more. “You have to be efficient. It’s important to minimize risk and maximize output,” says Daphne. That’s why a strong partnership with a bank like BMO is key to making everything work.
The pandemic has created new challenges and opportunities for Malone’s. With grocery stores remaining open as essential businesses, and many people buying more groceries, Malone’s is busier than ever. They’ve also worked hard to ensure safety protocols throughout their business. “We’re used to that with production, but less so with delivery. So we’ve stayed very busy,” says Daphne.
BMO has continued to partner with Malone’s, supporting them as they ramp up delivery, offer new products – their latest is bologna – and continue to expand the business.
“BMO has been good for me. They’ve been cooperative and encouraging,” says Daphne. “All of the bankers I’ve worked with have been helpful – even BMO staff who didn’t know me. We’ve had a really good relationship.”
Malone’s has been operating in Milwaukee for 65 years. They’re proud to have served residents in the city they love for so long. And now, they’re looking to grow even more, and become a national presence.
“I’m ready for the next step,” says Daphne. “I want to see my product around the world, and on the moon.”
One of the ways BMO is observing International Women’s Day is by celebrating women entrepreneurs. Through a new content series, we’re telling the stories of businesses owners who’ve faced barriers of all kinds – and their inspiring experiences in breaking down those barriers. The series will run on social media across Canada and our U.S. footprint.