Kiolbassa Smoked Meats has a new president, and for the first time, he isn’t a descendant of the company’s founder.

The San Antonio-based sausage and smoked meats company will be led in its day-to-day operation by Bill Wagner, a veteran food industry executive who joined the company as its chief financial officer in 2017 and was promoted to chief operating officer last year.

Michael Kiolbassa, grandson of the company’s founder, remains CEO and chairman of the board.

“This is a big step for our company because we have been a family-led organization from day one,” Kiolbassa said in a prepared statement. He said Wagner had played a pivotal role in some of the company’s recent milestones.

Bill Wagner

Kiolbassa Smoked Meats’ products, which include sausages, bacon and chorizo, are sold in all major grocery stores across the country.

The company has 325 employees and said its 2021 gross revenue reached $119 million, equaling 23 million pounds of meat products.

Wagner came to San Antonio as an executive with Pace Foods, and after that company’s sale to Campbell Soup Co., he helped co-found Silver Ventures, the private equity firm of San Antonio billionaire Kit Goldsbury. Known as the developer of the Pearl brewery, Silver Ventures primarily invests in food companies. Wagner led its purchase and development of NatureSweet Tomatoes.

Kiolbassa Smoked Meats was founded in 1949 by Rufus and Juanita Kiolbassa, who sold smoked sausage on the West Side of San Antonio. Their son Bobby Kiolbassa led the company for 60 years in various roles until he died in 2021, and was succeeded by his son Michael Kiolbassa.

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Waylon Cunningham

Waylon Cunningham covered business and technology for the San Antonio Report.