Beef chain in the backyard
“When the snow melts and the boat docks are in, CAB better be on the shelf.”
I’m in the passenger seat of a Ford pickup backed up to a large animal veterinarian’s practice. I’m in a border town of Wyoming and Idaho about to unload a horse off a trailer. I’m with Jim Benedict and it’s an adventure, because that just seems to be his life.
I met Jim about an hour beforehand at the Customer Service counter of Benedict’s Market, near Mountain View, Wyo. We had scheduled an interview to talk cattle and his retail store but his daughter’s horse had cut his leg, requiring attention, and Jim figured we could multitask.
The cool thing about Jim is he’s present, no matter the chaos that lies on the outskirts. When he’s with his cattle, he’s a committed caretaker, a dedicated herdsman. When he’s in his family’s retail store, he recognizes faces and scans the aisles for improvements. When he’s at the horse vet, he studies the treatment and asks almost as many questions as me.
He’s a student, a pursuer of excellence in all things and one of the most unique ranchers I’ve met.
So back to his quote at the top…
I didn’t know what he meant about the first part – in Florida the docks are stationary (hello, sunshine!) – but I was pretty sure about the second: if it was a challenge, Jim seemed like a guy who gets things done.
“People tell us we’re crazy,” he admits of juggling both ends of the beef business, “but we just do our own thing.”
He’s talking about him and his brother, Bruce, both third generations to run the local grocery and retail store where you can buy “a loaf of bread or livestock equipment.” More so, he’s acknowledging the fact that they own and manage hundreds of head of Angus cattle, too. Not to mention farm and have families to boot.
That aim for growth led them to CAB.
“We knew some of the more progressive stores were using CAB and making it happen, that it worked,” Jim says.
All it took was thinking about his cattle and the literature he had read about the world’s largest branded beef program.
“We went down to a food show in April, and Associated Food Stores didn’t know if they could pull it off,” he says. Supply, demand and the impending summer season implied it would be six months at least.
But the boat docks were almost in and that meant summer tourism was around the corner.
“I got home and got on the phone and said, ‘Hey, I need to pull the trigger on this. Let’s get this thing rocking and rolling.’”
Twenty-two days later, CAB was in the meat case.
“We’re blending the producer side of things with the retail side of things,” Jim says. “We know what the end product is. We know what the going-in product is. It was that little spot in the middle that we needed.”
Now he’s got the whole beef chain in his backyard and a special perspective to go with it.
Thanks for allowing me to tell your story,
PS – Be sure to grab a copy of the Angus Journal for Jim’s full story in a few months.