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story.lead_photo.caption Inside Burgers' Smokehouse near California, employees work to process country cured hams and a variety of other meats. Photo by Danisha Hogue / California Democrat.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship recognized Burgers' Smokehouse as the Small Business of the Day during national small businesses week in May.

Representatives from Sen. Josh Hawley's office, who nominated the California-based business, presented Steven and Philip Burger with the congressional award June 13. The award was read May 8 on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C.

When Steven, president of the company, received the call of the award, he said he was surprised and honored.

"We are honored by the recognition and are appreciative of the opportunity to have a thriving small business in this country and the state of Missouri," Steven said in a news release.

The company is a "large player in a small industry," he said. Burgers' Smokehouse is the largest producer of country hams in the U.S. with about 450 employees in various positions, Steven said.

That total includes workers at the recently acquired location in Paris, Tennessee. The company purchased Clifty Farm in March. The location will focus on producing cured hams.

State Director Daniel Hartman said Sen. Hawley is a personal fan of the ham.

"Burgers' Smokehouse embodies the traits of a true family-owned business," Hawley wrote on the award.

To be nominated, small- to mid-size businesses have 500 employees or less, officials said. Burgers' was the only business in the state recognized, Hartman said.

"Sen. Hawley said 'Burgers' makes Missouri proud'," Hartman said. "Your story, the way you operate, it's one that should be recognized."

In 1927, E.M. Burger used his mother's recipe to cure hams, selling five hams that year. Now in the third and fourth generation, the business sells cured hams and a variety of smoked meats internationally.

"The business of Burgers' is something that I think Sen. Hawley really admires," Hartman said. "Also that he thinks so highly of a business in my hometown is extra special."

Rep. Sen. Roy Blunt joined the recognition of the company during small business week. Staff Assistant Morgan Corder said a flag was flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. That flag was properly folded and delivered to Burgers' Smokehouse.