A hardware salesman and a hand surgeon walk into a bar…
Replace that last part with pasture and you’re in my boots a few months back.
But for Phillip Smith and Dr. David Taylor, there’s no need for a punch line. Talking with the cousins from Ozark, Ark., it’s just a typical Tuesday afternoon.
“Some of our skills overlap and some of them don’t,” Dr. Taylor says. His comment is matter of fact, as if there’s nothing unique about the producer pairing. But I prod a bit more.
“We work together,” he adds, and I watch it in action.
It is obvious, the shorthand the cousins share. A year apart in school, they grew up friends, stayed in touch as David sold his herd and left for medical school and Phillip took charge of his father’s store downtown.
Decades later, an opportunity to purchase land that connected the two families meant a chance for the men to run cattle together, Phillip on site, David traveling to and from Dallas as he approaches retirement.
“I’m here about every two weeks, or say four out of every 14 days,” David says.
I can tell. What could seem like an ideal situation for a silent partner is anything but. David knows his cattle well. As we walk he studies them intently and I wonder how he makes time to heal hands.
“I just believe there’s likely no one else in America that puts the detail into selection that he [Taylor] does,” Tom Williams says. The Chappell (Neb.) Feedlot manager feeds four or five groups of STP cattle through the spring and fall. A recent closeout shows 79% achieved CAB® and Prime.
Tom credits the cousins’ use of technology and genetics as reason for improvement. David says it came down to this simple fact: there are economic opportunities and additional profit to be made for those willing to produce high-quality cattle.
So they started doing it.
In the seven years they’ve fed at Chappell, STP cattle have improved in marbling, cutability and performance, now setting the curve for what Tom feeds.
“And we feed the good ones,” he says.
“We want to grow something Phillip and I wouldn’t hesitate to eat ourselves,” David says.
It’s a simple statement but one that carries much weight when you know what it takes to get there.
Thanks for allowing me to tell your story,