Kiowa County has a new business. Rocky Mountain Custom Meats, LLC opened their doors at the beginning of September in Haswell. Since then, they have hired two new employees and will soon be looking for a couple more. The fact is---“We’re already swamped with processing orders clear into January 2021,” according to owner Tanner King.
Rocky Mountain Custom Meats, LLC is located at 500 E. Hwy 96 in Haswell. Oldtimers will know the place when you tell them the new business is in the old L & M Processing Plant that was built by Leonard Price back in the 1970s. They do custom meat processing for beef, hogs, sheep, bison and wild game. Currently, they are state inspected and will eventually become USDA inspected, as well, although that will take quite a bit of time and money to achieve.
The new owners, Tanner and Kendra King along with their two young children, moved to Haswell and bought the building from Tanner’s parents who purchased the old processing plant in 2011. “They were going to try to get a processing plant up and going, but at the time the regulations were many and they never got it going.”
Haswell was not their original destination, however. Tanner actually grew up in Lamar but left soon after graduation moving to Idaho where he learned the business of feedlots and custom butcher shops. He has worked and managed every aspect of cattle production from raising cattle, to working the feedlots, to managing processing plants. King became interested in the concept of vertical integration while working in Dalhart, TX at an 115,000 head feed yard called Agri-Beef and also at Harris Ranch.
Tanner says he was getting tired of managing some 80 workers and was ready to move on with the hope of learning more about vertical integration in the food production industry. “We were actually heading to Russia as I got an offer to work at a large feedlot. But then, the virus hit, the borders closed, and we couldn’t get out of the country. So, we stayed and changed our plans. That led us to Haswell.”
It took the young couple many hours of work and planning to get their business off the ground, but they were confident that this area could benefit from a custom beef processing plant. All the equipment is new to building and is either newly purchased or used equipment. The biggest expense was their coolers which includes 2 large aging coolers, a walk-in freezer, and refrigerators for inedibles. In all, they have 6 refrigeration units.
Although, they can’t process for resale, they are keeping very busy with their numerous custom orders that are already coming in. “It’s all been word of mouth. We haven’t even had time to advertise or let the community know we’re here.” They do have a Facebook page and are working on getting a webpage in order to better streamline their custom orders.
Tanner and Kendra are extremely busy just trying to keep up with the day-to-day processes at their new business. However, they have a clear picture on how to develop vertical integration processes in the future, “We would eventually like to run cattle, finish them in our feedlot, and process them right here for resale.”
But, for now, the Kings are getting to know the community, working hard trying to keep up on their orders, and hoping they will soon find some trained butchers in the area who want to work hard in a fast-growing industry.
Cover: Rocky Mountain Custom Meats Contact info