50 for 50: Louis Wysocki

Published online: Jan 08, 2021 50 for 50, Articles
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition.

Louis Wysocki and the Wysocki Family of Companies—which Louis founded with his brothers Francis and Greg—are recognized all across the country for savvy agricultural insights, strong business acumen and untiring efforts on behalf of Wisconsin and American agriculture.

In the late 1950s, the Wysocki brothers partnered with their father on his small dairy farm and converted the operation to a potato farm. Over the next several years, the farm expanded its central Wisconsin operation. A demand grew for their products in major Midwestern markets like Chicago, and the brothers learned new and innovative ways to store and pack potatoes to meet that demand and create more.

As the business grew, Louis was always at the industry’s forefront. He conceived the concept and authored legislation creating the Wisconsin Potato Industry Board and was the board’s first chairman in 1974. He also served in leadership roles for the National Potato Council, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. 

The Wysocki Family of Companies consists of three distinct but interdependent entities: Wysocki Produce Farm, which handles the farming operations; Paragon Potato Farms, which packs several varieties of potatoes year-round for retailers, wholesalers and foodservice companies; and the sales and marketing arm, RPE, Inc.

Over the years, the Wysockis have added partners such as Jeff Sommers and Nick Somers, who have proven integral to the companies’ continued success. Now, the second and third generations of the Wysocki and Sommers families are following in the footsteps of their fathers. The farm’s operations have expanded to include growing regions across the country, including new family farm partnerships. Yet the families who have made this their life’s work take pride in telling everyone that the core principles Louis Wysocki started the company more than 60 years ago still drive it today.