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Ralph Smith and Kayem Foods, known for Fenway Franks, are expanding into burgers.
Ralph Smith and Kayem Foods, known for Fenway Franks, are expanding into burgers.Chris Morris

By the time Kayem Foods landed the coveted Red Sox account to make Fenway Franks, roughly six years ago, it already had decades of experience with hot dogs.

But hamburgers? That’s another story. Burgers and dogs line up together nicely on the backyard grill — not so much on the assembly line floor.

That said, Kayem is finally ready to flip some patties. The company recently started rolling out Kayem-branded precooked burgers in Shaw’s and Market Basket stores and in other retailers outside of New England.

To Ralph Smith, Kayem’s chief executive, this move was all about helping Kayem increase its profile in other parts of the country. To do that, Kayem needed to evolve beyond hot dogs. (Kayem doesn’t just sell hot dogs now: Among other things, it makes the number one chicken sausage in the United States, under its Al Fresco brand.)


“We’re hoping to get a national presence with the burger,” Smith said. “We really feel it’s important for Kayem to expand its geographic reach.”

The family-owned company is already New England’s largest meat processor, with 600 people working at its plants in Chelsea and Woburn. Despite that fact, Kayem doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity to mass-produce fully cooked burgers and has outsourced the work to Lopez Foods, an out-of-state company.

There are other new products underway at Kayem: a recently launched split-top hot dog bun made with Gold Medal Bakery of Fall River, and sausage patties for breakfast coming out later this year.

Smith estimates that nearly 4 percent of Kayem’s revenue comes from the Fenway Franks, which are sold in stores as well as at Fenway Park. Smith is a lifelong Red Sox fan, but he won’t turn his back on a good business opportunity: The sports teams that serve Kayem dogs include the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the Boston team’s American League East rivals.


So will we see these new burgers in Fenway Park soon? That seems unlikely.

Smith said the concessionaire at Fenway, Aramark Corp., still wants to cook its own patties. — JON CHESTO

Boston to help you get that higher salary

About 275 business leaders, most of them women, gathered at the Seaport Hotel Wednesday to broach a touchy subject: the fact that they earn less than men. It’s a timely topic, with the City of Boston in the midst of gathering gender-specific salary data from local companies. And the city used the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce event to announce yet another step toward closing the wage gap.

This fall, the city plans to hold the first of hundreds of free or low-cost salary negotiation workshops, aimed at teaching women — and men if they so desire — the best ways to boost their pay.

Megan Costello , director of the city’s Office of Women’s Advancement and a panelist at the morning event, said later that she hears stories every day about women underselling themselves, worried about asking for too much “because that’s going to seem egotistical or presumptuous, all these attributes that women tend to see as negative.”

The panel, moderated by Victoria Budson , executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School, also featured Cathy Minehan, dean of the Simmons College School of Management; Evelyn Murphy , former lieutenant governor and president of the WAGE Project; and Beth Williams , president of Roxbury Technology LLC, a manufacturer that rebuilds toner cartridges.


Williams told the group that after she agreed to be part of the citywide effort to close the wage gap, she examined her own payroll and found more men in supervisory positions. She subsequently promoted two women.

“If I could, I would hire all women,” she said, “but then I’d get in trouble on the other side.” — KATIE JOHNSTON

Mullen Lowe has new US chief executive

It has been a busy time over at Mullen — excuse us, Mullen Lowe — this month.

There was that big merger with sister company Lowe and Partners and the promotion of Marblehead resident Alex Leikikh to run the global company as chief executive.

Then Mullen landed a big new account, the Royal Caribbean cruise company.

All good news for Boston.

Leikikh’s promotion opened up a new job — CEO of Mullen Lowe in the United States — and the new guy will end up in California.

Mullen Lowe just recruited Lee Newman from Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago for the post, and Newman will move to Mullen Lowe’s Los Angeles office. He’ll be based in LA in part to help with the firm’s Acura business, because of his extensive auto experience.

Newman will report to Leikikh; the two worked together for years at Fallon, the ad agency in Minneapolis.

David Swaebe, a senior vice president at Mullen Lowe, stressed the Interpublic Group subsidiary still has strong leaders at its Boston headquarters, including Boston office president Kristen Cavallo and John Moore, president of the firm’s Mediahub group. Leikikh isn’t moving his family away from here, but he’ll be doing a lot of traveling in his new job. Likewise, Swaebe said he expects Newman will be in perpetual motion, circulating among all of the firm’s US offices — Boston, LA, New York, and North Carolina. — JON CHESTO


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