Invariably, the question that always gets asked within the first five minutes of explaining what Meat Your Kitchen is…. What made you want to start this kind of business? The answer is both simple and complex, and that right there tells you most of what you need to know about me as a person as well.
The answer begins in the middle…. For the last ~20yrs or so, I have gone deer hunting with a one of my best friends, Matt, on his family’s property outside of Jefferson City, MO. His family runs ~80 head of beef on that farm. Like many families, they would slaughter a beef from time to time to share with the rest of the family. One year, Matt had some left-over beef that had been vacuum sealed in his freezer for over a year. He needed to clear out his freezer to make room for new incoming and he asked if I’d like to take some home. So I’m like… ‘Sure!’. Long story short, some time later my wife, Michelle, and I cook this steak up (top sirloin I think it was) then we sit down to eat. We were completely floored by how much better flavor and texture this steak had as compared to what we had been getting from the grocery stores and meat markets in town, and this was after been in a deep freeze for about a year and a half. And that got me thinkin’….
Some time after that I decided to put my education to use to figure out if there was a viable business bringing this high quality meat from the small ranchers in the country to discerning consumers in the urbias (My own made up word for urban and sub-urban, collectively). So…. I grabbed my youngest daughter, Katie, and, one Christmas Break (I use Christmas, but feel free to insert whatever name for the break you prefer), we went to several grocery stores around town identifying price points for cuts and quality. From there I set Katie free from the chore she joined me on (she was a good sport but her ‘daddy time’ was spent and she wanted to be off doing kid stuff) and I jumped online and started reviewing online meat retailers. Holy Cow! The prices these folks were getting for what they were selling was through the roof, and these folks were succeeding. With that…. I did some quick pricing from area processors, and there was definitely room for a business opportunity.
So…. The small rancher has better quality meat and there is plenty of room to make a successful business in between the current market price points, but something was missing. Don’t get me wrong, these are both good reasons to start a business, but I already had one of those business’s, I wanted something different, something better, something that meant more to me personally. So I stalled on it for a while.
Then in late 2021, and I don’t recall exactly what it was that made me see something I hadn’t been seeing, I realized this actually was a very personal endeavor for me and it married my values and my skills rather tightly. See… I grew up in country until I was ~12, some time after my parents divorced. So even though most of my life has been suburban, it is safe to say my roots are country. Much of that time I grew up across from what is now Argentville Dairy outside of Winfield, MO. Back then they ran Jersey’s (at least that is what the 12yr old in me remembers) for the dairy production. These cows were rather curious, and on more than one occasion waiting for the school bus, I would sing to them and they would come right to the fence stand there listening intently. I think that is the only audience I’ve ever had that did not cringe at my singing. It was these, and countless other, memories that made me value what it is to grow up in rural America. America cannot afford to lose this. Set aside any moral or ethical arguments, a quick read, if there is such a thing, of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and it is land and the food it produces through good management that is the source of our wealth and well-being as humans. Thus, those Americans that live this life to produce the food we depend on are indispensable to our wealth and well-being as well. In my mind, the best way to support them is to support their economic viability i.e. Buy their stuff!
Combine this with the mega conglomerate farms that, while they bring cheap food, they do not bring better food that is better for Americans. But they have an advantage in their size, that advantage comes in more efficient systems and buying power where suppliers and vendors are concerned. They also have advantages in politics and political action; but I’m a businessman and a system builder, so I’ll leave the politics alone except to say that I disagree with using politics to disadvantage ‘the little guy’. But what I can do and I love doing, is building business systems that make the complex, simple. In this case rendering the sourcing from many smalls a manageable task to solve the larger supply-demand problem while having traceability to the source, creating a means for consumers to differentiate on which breed (think the type of grape where wine is concerned) they prefer to eat, and educating consumers in the many ways small ranch production has valuable attributes that create a better dining experience. That’s my idea of fun!
So back to the original question…. Why Scott? Because I want to provide better eating experiences to the urbias through supporting the small ranchers’ rural way of life using the skills I most enjoy while being consistent with free market principles.
If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, please let me know in the comments below what you do and why you started your business.
Great to hear your story, Scott!
Thank you, Justin. Stop by again, I’ll have more!