How Sechler’s Pickles Transformed St. Joe in DeKalb County into Indiana’s ‘Pickle Town’

 

Have you ever heard of Indiana’s “Pickle Town”? That’s the nickname for St. Joe in DeKalb County in northeastern Indiana. The town received their nickname from a local company called Sechler’s Pickles.

“We’re not the biggest industry in our community but we are maybe the most well-known. We call ourselves the ‘Ben & Jerry’ of the pickle business,” says Max Troyer, owner and president of Sechler’s Pickles.

The company was started by Ralph Sechler and his family back in 1921.

“They would purchase pickles, usually along railroad station. They would grade them and store them in tanks at the pickle station near the railroad and they would preserve them in these tanks through fermentation. Throughout the year, trains would come and pick them up and take them to companies for processing,” he says. “However, during the Great Depression, the company that they were selling pickles to went bankrupt, so they had to figure out what to do with all the pickles they had in tanks. That’s when they started processing them themselves.”

Even though Troyer isn’t a member of the Sechler family, his passion for working with the company led to his ownership in 2007.

Max Troyer, owner and president of Sechler’s Pickles based in St. Joe, Indiana. Photo courtesy of Sechler’s Pickles.

“I came in the 1990’s as their general manager,” he says. “Dave Sechler—the third generation of the family—was just taking over the company, and I partnered with him to move the company forward. When he decided to retire, he didn’t have any family members who had a great interest in the business, so that was my opportunity to carry on the stewardship of the company.”

Because of the strong connection between Sechler’s Pickles and the nearby town of St. Joe, the annual “St. Joe Pickle Festival” is a tradition in the community. This year’s festival runs July 18-20.

“The St. Joe Pickle Festival is a community event—it’s not Sechler’s Pickles that runs it,” he says. “We just try to support it in any way that we can to make it successful. It gives our small community a chance to get together.”

A sign for St. Joe’s Pickle Fest, which is scheduled for July 18-20 in St. Joe, Indiana.

In conjunction with the festival, Sechler’s Pickles are hosting free tours of their facility July 15-20. Tours will be available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 am – 12 p.m. Closed-toed shoes and sleeves required—plus all who are part of the tour will be required to wear hairnets. However, Troyer and his team please ask that you call or e-mail ahead of time to make a reservation. Their phone number is 260-337-5461 and their email is [email protected].

Troyer says the overall success of Sechler’s Pickles is due to their original recipes and fresh quality ingredients that the company has continued to stand by for more than a hundred years.

“We’re a smaller, niche company,” he says. “We’ve always used granulated sugar and natural colors in our products, which definitely gives a different flavor profile than high fructose corn syrup.”

“The buzzwords that a lot of other companies are using today are the same words that we’ve lived by for 100 years: ‘We could make them faster, but we couldn’t make them better!’”

For more information about Sechler’s Pickles, visit SechlersPickles.com.

Click HERE for more information about company tours of Sechler’s Pickles, which will be available July 15-20, 2024.

Click HERE for more information about the St. Joe Pickle Festival.

Click BELOW to hear Hoosier Ag Today’s full interview with Max Troyer, owner and president of Sechler’s Pickles.

A sample of the many varieties of pickles, relish, and other products available through Sechler’s Pickles. Photo courtesy of Sechler’s Pickles.