When we think about manufacturing, often times we think of trades such as wielding or electrical work. Have you ever thought about the manufacturing that went into that scoop of mint-chocolate chip ice cream that you had after dinner? Star Kay White Inc. is a family owned business aimed at making flavoring materials for ice cream, beverages, and bakery items. The company was founded in 1890 by David Katzenstien who named the business Star Extract Works. David was an immigrant from Germany, he came to the U.S. with his brother and developed flavors/extracts. Popular flavors such as cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate were sold to local bakeries, brewers, and distillers throughout the northeast.
Today, David’s great grandchild, Ben Katzenstien is at the helm. Ben sat down for an interview with HV Mfg back in 2017 to discuss the family history and future of the company. David began working in the family business from the age of 4 when his father would bring him into the factory on Saturday mornings. While David never felt pressured to join the family business, he always knew it was something he wanted to do. “I was brought up with a strong work ethic, there was a lot of focus on working hard, to always do more than you are being paid for.” David took that motto seriously and not only earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, but also went back to school at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park to further gain knowledge within the food industry.
Star Kay White Inc. has grown into 5 family generations. David’s two sons, Alex and Gabe are working hard to one day lead the company forward into the next generation. This is important as David persuaded his father and cousin to purchase 50% of the company from another family member. David needed to know that his two sons would be committed to the long-term successes of the company.
Of course, that success depends on the hard-working employees of Star Kay White Inc. When asked about what they look for when hiring, David emphasized the importance of individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit and are ambitious. Just like previous family generations, David and his sons instilled a strong work ethic within the factory. One employee in particular caught David’s attention simply by going above and beyond his duties. Twenty-five years later, that person is still working for Star Kay White Inc. While the future may hold uncertainties, David and his family’s commitment to hard work and determination have helped the company evolve into the successful business it is today.
You can find the full interview with Star Kay White in our Spring 2017 HV Mfg or view it online here.