Due to the scarcity of land and opportunity in Germany, the Fromms and Niemans immigrate to the United States where land and opportunity are plentiful.
John F. Nieman is the first Nieman born and raised in the United States.
Dairy farmer Fredrick “Fritz” Fromm marries Alwina Nieman. They have five children: Walter, Edward, John, Henry, and Erna.
John Nieman marries Annie Thesfelt at the age of 23. Seven weeks after their wedding day, Annie dies tragically. The official cause is not known, but she displayed symptoms consistent with typhoid fever and scarlet fever.
After the untimely death of John Nieman’s first wife, he leaves for Hermansville, Michigan in the early 1890s to participate as a businessman and merchant in the logging boom of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.
Eventually in the late 1890s, John marries his first wife’s younger sister Martha, and they have five children together: a daughter who passed in infancy, Edwin J., Herbert A., Alice, and John W. Nieman. Martha, however, insists that they move back to Cedarburg, Wisconsin. So John moves his family and the hard-earned wealth he has accumulated during the logging boom back to Cedarburg.
The four Fromm brothers (Walter age 16, Edward 14, John 12, and Henry 10) form what they simply call “The Company”, while sitting on the porch of their family’s farm house in the small town of Hamburg, Wisconsin. “The Company’s” mission was to pursue their dream of producing the finest, most beautiful silver foxes in the world, in addition to cultivating and harvesting the best ginseng the far East Asian markets had ever seen.
After issuing numerous loans to local farmers and utilizing their hogs as collateral, John Nieman tells his wife, “This town really could use a bank." Subsequently, he and a number of other local businessman found Cedarburg State Bank.
Cedarburg State Bank became 1st Wisconsin Bank in 1985 and then merged with US Bank in 2001.
Bursting with entrepreneurial energy and zeal, John Nieman forms the Cedarburg Cannery and the Old Milwaukee River Cannery
The business would later become the Herbert A. Nieman Canning Company which is located in what today is the Old Ross Wells Plant on land currently designated to become the new Mequon Town Center near the Mequon Police Station.
John Nieman forms the Thiensville State Bank in 1910.
The Thiensville State Bank later merged with Colonial, Valley, M&I, and finally BMO Harris.
Alwina Nieman-Fromm declares, “What good is land unless it gives a family a start in life,” and she co-signs a $6,800 loan with her 160 acre farm as collateral to provide the four Fromm brothers (her sons) with enough money to purchase three silver foxes and begin to carry out their business plan. Alwina had received this farm as a wedding gift from her father Joachim Nieman when she married Fredrick Fromm.
John Nieman’s son Edwin marries Erna Fromm, the sister of the four Company founding Fromm Brothers. Edwin moves Erna along with twelve pairs of Fromm Silver Foxes to Mequon, thus marking the beginning of the Silver Fox era in the Mequon-Thiensville and Cedarburg area.
At this point, the four Fromm brothers need some business help and an infusion of capital, which becomes available to them from their successful relative John F. Nieman. With the necessary capital, John Nieman's son Edwin and the Fromm brothers form Fromm Bros., Nieman & Co.
After reading Dr. Robert Green's articles in the American Fox and Fur Farmer magazines about disease outbreaks, Edward Fromm proactively reaches out to Dr. Green at the University of Minnesota. Together, the Fromm brothers and Dr. Green form Fromm Laboratories in Grafton, Wisconsin and begin work on the fox distemper vaccine.
Fromm Bros., Nieman & Co. builds its own food manufacturing plant in Mequon, Wisconsin. This allows them to continue producing their own nutritionally geared recipes at a volume sustainable for their growth.
This plant is still in operation today and serves as the primary research and development area for new foods and treats. The Mequon plant also serves as home base for the company, housing everything from customer service, sales, and marketing to accounting and human resources.
The business takes off. Fromm Bros. Inc. becomes the world’s largest producer of the renowned "Bright with Silver" foxes and ginseng. At its height, Fromm Bros. Inc, has over 1,000 employees in north central Wisconsin. Being in the midst of the Great Depression, there are long lines several hundreds deep of people waiting outside the Fromm Bros. Inc. gates in Hamburg, WI hoping for an opportunity to join the team.
Fromm Bros., Nieman & Co.'s innovative breeding techniques and sound nutrition result in the world's very first litter of eleven silver foxes which were born on the company's farm in Mequon-Thiensville.
After 15 long years, Dr. Robert Green and Fromm Laboratories, Inc. create and market the fox encephalitis vaccine, fox distemper vaccine, canine distemper vaccine, and feline distemper vaccine — utilizing attenuated viruses developed through their research work with ferrets. This achievement marks a major milestone in dog, cat, and fox health.
With the expertise of biochemist Dr. Willard Roberts, Fromm begins the research and development process to create the first complete and balanced dry dog food utilizing large-scale scientific feeding trials.
Federal Foods, Inc. is formed by Dr. Willard Roberts, Loyal Wells, and Fromm Bros., Nieman & Co.
The first bag of Fromm Complete Dog Meal is sold.
Fromm Dog Meal is marketed with the tagline “Fifty thousand foxes can’t be wrong!” referencing Fromm’s extensive feeding trials of more than 50,000 foxes and dogs.
Fromm ventures into lifestyle specific recipes with formulas such as “Hi-Stress” food for working dogs.
After graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and gaining professional experience at a Minnesota based company, Edwin J. Nieman Sr.'s grandson Tom returns to Wisconsin with his wife Kathy and their newborn son Bryan to take the reins of the family business.
Fromm pioneers the use of mixed tocopherols as a natural preservative in pet foods. Our research concludes that tocopherols are just as effective, and in most cases better, at preventing oxidation and extending the shelf life of pet foods compared to those preserved with artificial preservatives.
Mixed tocopherols remain the most popular natural preservative in pet food today.
Tom and Dr. Willard Roberts formulate and launch Fromm “New Formula” with the tagline “More isn’t better, better is better” referencing protein quality versus protein quantity. Competitors are boasting big protein numbers, but Fromm is able to achieve better results with less protein. Fromm foods use better quality protein than the competition in a balanced approach. The concept is a success; in feeding trials, Fromm “New Formula” measures much higher digestibility than its high protein rivals.
Federal Foods, Inc. is renamed Fromm Family Foods, LLC. to reflect its 4th generation ownership and the company’s strong family values.
Fromm Gold Nutritionals is introduced to commemorate Fromm Dog Meal’s Golden Anniversary. The multiple meat protein recipes are launched with the tagline “What we learned in 50 years could have filled a book... We decided a bag would be more appropriate.”
Fromm Four-Star Nutritionals becomes the first variety-driven gourmet pet food. Fromm Four-Star allows pet parents to feed a variety of recipes without the digestive upset usually associated with switching foods. Fromm Four-Star is marketed as “True, Four-Star canine and feline cuisine”, utilizing extremely high quality meats and fish as the first ingredient complimented with a vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Richard Best joins the Fromm Family Foods team. Tom and Richard scout for possible expansion sites to keep up with the brand growth.
Richard subsequently becomes Chief Operating Officer for the company in 2010.
Fromm purchases and begins retrofitting a vacant late 1960s slip-form concrete feed mill in Columbus Wisconsin. Over the next year the Columbus, Wisconsin landmark is completely revived and transformed into what will soon become Fromm Family Foods' second pet food plant. Retrofitting the existing site as opposed to completely new construction allows Fromm Family Foods to continue growing without a single dollar of outside investment.
Fromm Family Foods' Mequon plant is running production twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week just to keep up with the increasing demand. By June of 2010 and just before the Fromm Family Foods Mequon plant is out of capacity, Fromm has successfully commissioned existing recipes at the Fromm Family Foods Columbus plant. The new plant is officially up and running just in the nick of time. The additional plant adds 60 Wisconsin jobs, resurrects an old landmark, and allows Fromm Family Foods to support continued growth.
In a unique ribbon cutting and ground breaking ceremony, Fromm begins work on a 40,000 square foot addition to the recently completed Fromm Family Foods Columbus, Wisconsin plant.
Fromm Family Foods wins the Wisconsin Business Development (WBD) Howard Ford Small Business Achievement Award.
Tom Nieman wins the U.S. Small Business Administration - Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year Award. In addition, Fromm breaks ground on a second extrusion and packaging line at the existing Columbus, Wisconsin plant.
Remaining committed to independent pet specialty, Fromm celebrates their 110th anniversary on the heels of another year of outstanding growth.
Fromm Family Foods hosts the first annual Fromm Petfest at Milwaukee’s Henry Maier Festival Grounds. More than 8,000 pet parents and families from the Milwaukee area came to partake in the festivities and enjoy a day near the water. Fromm Petfest will go on to be held each summer for years to come.
Work is completed on the third materials elevator at the Columbus plant. This allows our facility to keep up with the ever-increasing growth of our dry dog and cat food business.