Jay and Karin Archer are the owners and operators of Steving Meats where they have been working in the industry together since 1981. This is a true family owned and operated business where they have had the pleasure of their children (and some of their spouses) working together for many years. Karin has been the backbone of the business end of things with Jay overseeing operations while son, Raymond, acts as manager.
“Karin runs the business end of things, and I run the help,” Jay said, which brought an immediate response from his wife.
“I’ve only quit a couple of times,” she said with a laugh.
Steving Meats provides custom meat slaughtering to a number of customers, most of whom raise their own animals in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.
Prior to that, they owned and operated Martin Meats, a meat market in Orange County, California which they operated for 12 years. They worked together at that business before they wed in 1982.
Family in Colorado brought them back to Kersey in 1995, when they bought Steving Meats, a meat-processing facility in the Southeast corner of Kersey that was built in 1976 and owned by Steving in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Jay got his start as a 19-year-old working in the Southern California meat market, where he got his training from two veteran meat cutters. He and Karin purchased Martin Meats before their wedding.
“It [Martin Meats] burned down and was rebuilt just before we bought it, then burned down again right after we sold it. Talk about luck,” Karin said. Martin Meats closed their doors in 2013 for retirement.
Beef is the staple of Steving Meats, but the company also slaughters and processes hogs, lambs, bison and yak.
Karin said Steving Meat will process 1,200-1,300 head of beef on average, 700-800 hogs and 125 lambs per year.
There is a USDA meat inspector at the plant at least 40 hours per week, inspecting every head that comes to the plant for processing and insuring Humane Handling procedures.
That USDA stamp of approval is what brings many customers to Steving from Wyoming, which does not have a USDA inspected plant in the state. Steving is one of the only pork plants in the area that is USDA inspected, and there are other Northern Colorado beef and lamb processing plants that have inspectors on site.
About 90 percent of Steving’s business is custom — slaughtering animals and packing the meat to a customer’s specifications. That means dry aging beef on average of 17 days to improve the taste, and curing and smoking ham and bacon. The business can slaughter a hog, cure and smoke the meat and package it during a 10-day period.
Jay said part of his business is also devoted to educating people on where their food originates.
“There are too many people who think they can go to the super market and the food just appears there. But somebody has to produce it and that takes work, and it also takes somebody like us to process it before it ever gets to the market,” he said.
The company employs two butchers, who’s job it is to slaughter the animals that come in, four meat cutters and two meat wrappers and operates at least five days a week, but usually five and a half. Raymond, Karin and Jay's son, assists in running the plant's daily operations and has been with the company since 2001. Raymond “is our outdoors person,” the couple said, and has been working on achieving his goals in tournament fishing. Raymond and his wife also currently own their own business and have both worked in the family business together. Ashley, their daughter, has also worked for the family business. Ashley and her husband both work in the oil industry in Northern Colorado and are busy raising their son.
Entrepreneur Advice from the Jay and Karin:
Advice for the entrepreneur: We just jumped in. We knew we weren’t happy working for somebody else and if that’s the case, then you have to go take the chance. If you don’t grab the brass ring, you’ll never know how far you can go.
Best business decision and how it helped: To buy Steving Meats Co., almost 21 years ago, and get out of the retail meats business.
Worst business decision and what you learned from it: Not expanding when we were younger. Back then, we could have doubled our size, but now we are at a place where we are doing what we want to do.
*Some of the above content supplied by the Greeley Tribune
Steving Meats in the Media