Small Talk With Matt Monkiewicz
Matt Monkiewicz, MBA’00 Photo: Tom Kates
Baseball and hot dogs go hand in hand—they’re an American tradition. Tradition means a lot to the Monkiewicz family, owners of Kayem Foods, which makes and sells a variety of meat products, including Fenway Franks, the official hot dog of the Boston Red Sox. Matt Monkiewicz, MBA’00, vice president of marketing, and his three siblings are the fourth generation to work at Kayem since their great-grandfather founded the company in 1909.
Were you around the business growing up? We used to play hide-and-seek in the warehouse on Saturdays. My dad would bring us down there. When we were on vacation, we’d visit meat plants—I kid you not.
Did you want to work at Kayem? From the time I was 10, I wanted to fly planes. My grandfather instilled that in me. In high school, I really took to marketing, but I was still sort of fixated on being a pilot. I went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical for several years. I did pretty well, but I just felt like it wasn’t the thing for me. It didn’t excite me. I switched schools in my third year and graduated with a marketing degree.
How did you land the Red Sox? I chased them for three or four years. They weren’t really interested. Then we got word through the industry that a competitor was dropping the contract. So I immediately picked up the phone and said, “I know you don’t know me from a hole in the wall, but you need somebody to make your product. We’re here. I’ll jump on it in a second.” We negotiated and finally became the official frankfurt of the Red Sox. It was pretty cool.
Best thing about working with family? You get to see them more often than you would ordinarily. That is one of the things I miss with my dad. He was president but retired last year. He’s still chairman, so he comes to board meetings. But I don’t see him as much as I used to, which can be good and bad. He was a tough boss, but I learned a ton from him.
Will your kids work here? I want them to pursue something that makes them happy and successful in life. If it’s here, great. I would love to see it. And if it’s elsewhere, I’ll support them.
How do you take your hot dog? The best is a grilled bun with light mustard and relish. I also like steamed, straight up.—Donna Coco