Imperial Valley Press

GROW One World Beef con­tin­ues to

- BY JULIO MO­RALES Staff Writer Business · Livestock Industry · Agriculture · Industries · Iceland · Hong Kong · Brawley, CA · Belgium · Austria · Belarus · United States of America · Japan · Singapore · China · South Korea · Taiwan · Mexico · Thailand · Vietnam · U.S. Agriculture Department

B RAW­LEY — By just about any mea­sure, it is ap­par­ent that One World Beef has been able to achieve a sig­nif­i­cant amount of suc­cess in the year and two months it has been op­er­at­ing.

Take, for ex­am­ple, its hav­ing al­ready hired 261 em­ploy­ees since in­cep­tion. Also, the con­tin­ual growth of its ex­port mar­ket, which now ex­ports to seven Asian coun­tries on a weekly ba­sis.

Equally im­pres­sive is the fact that One Word Beef was ap­proved for ex­port to Hong Kong within eight weeks of its open­ing, a time frame that pales in com­par­i­son to the year­long wait the ap­proval process typ­i­cally may take.

“It’s quite an amaz­ing feat, es­pe­cially for such a young com­pany,” said Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Eric Brandt.

Yet, more than just a hall­mark of the com­pany’s com­mer­cial suc­cesses, the fig­ures also high­light an equally no­ble achieve­ment — namely, a busi­ness phi­los­o­phy that has re­spect and crafts­man­ship as its core val­ues.

Those core val­ues are on dis­play through­out the 337,000-square foot plant, from the large wooden sign em­bla­zoned with the word “Re­spect” hang­ing over the chute that cat­tle pass through be­fore en­ter­ing the sprawl­ing fa­cil­ity, to the full-time culi­nary chefs em­ployed in the plant’s fam­ily din­ing hall.

“We’ve worked hard on re­ally try­ing to build our cul­ture,” Brandt said.

Ded­i­ca­tion to the craft

Brandt’s com­mit­ment to of­fer­ing a niche craft prod­uct re­flects the high es­teem that he holds for the qual­ity of the cat­tle he pro­cesses, many of which come from Val­ley cat­tle ranch­ers.

“We can take th­ese cat­tle that have been raised to per­fec­tion and ei­ther bring them in here and make some­thing medi­ocre or we can make some­thing re­ally spe­cial,” Brandt said. “Our fo­cus is more on cre­at­ing value out of th­ese an­i­mals.”

That value is also fea­tured in the brands that OWB pro­duces, in­clud­ing its Brandt Beef, Braw­ley Beef, Im­pe­rial Val­ley Ranches and Baja Beef brands.

The com­pany’s ded­i­ca­tion to crafts­man­ship is also ev­i­dent in its de­ci­sion to de­lay the launch of its ground beef op­er­a­tions un­til its core busi­ness com­po­nents were firmly in place.

Although ground beef can con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cant prof­its to a meat pro­ces­sor’s bot­tom line, OWB’s fo­cus was to en­sure its op­er­a­tion em­ployed the best worker and con­sumer safety prac­tices.

The com­pany cur­rently has plans to de­vote a whole month to test­ing its op­er­a­tions be­fore rolling out its ground beef prod­ucts in late Fe­bru­ary or early March.

“We want to make sure that when we pro­duce some­thing, we’re pro­duc­ing the best of what it can pos­si­bly be,” Brandt said.

OWB’s fo­cus on crafts­man­ship also is re­flected in its rel­a­tively slower pro­duc­tion rate.

The meat pro­cess­ing plant was orig­i­nally de­signed to process about 1,600 cat­tle on a daily ba­sis in a sin­gle shift. That daily amount was even­tu­ally in­creased to 2,300 un­der the own­er­ship of Na­tional Beef. OWB’s plans call for a grad­ual in­crease from about 700 to about 1,200 head within the next few years.

“Our in­ten­tion wasn’t and isn’t to run num­bers like the pre­vi­ous own­ers,” Brandt said. “Our model is more of a craft niche pro­ducer.”

That slower pro­duc­tion rate also may help ex­plain why OWB’s em­ployee turnover rate stands at un­der 5 per­cent, in stark con­trast to the high turnover rates that are typ­i­cally found within the meat pro­cess­ing in­dus­try across the na­tion.

A re­port by the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture in 2009 stated the turnover rate reaches 100 per­cent in cer­tain parts of the coun­try.

While a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of OWB’s ini­tial hires were former Na­tional Beef em­ploy­ees, the com­pany has since re­cruited in­di­vid­u­als with no prior ex­pe­ri­ence, but who have dis­played an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for OWB’s core val­ues of crafts­man­ship and re­spect.

“We’re open to any­body that wants to fit into this en­vi­ron­ment and this team cul­ture that we have,” Brandt said. “It’s not for every­body.”

Lever­ag­ing its crafts­man­ship

Ex­pan­sion ef­forts at OWB have been largely fu­eled by de­mand for its prod­ucts at the do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional level.

Its prod­ucts have been well-re­ceived in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets such as Ja­pan, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, China, Korea, Tai­wan, Mex­ico, Thai­land and Viet­nam.

“We’re send­ing meat from Im­pe­rial Val­ley all over the world,” Brandt said. “Cer­tain coun­tries we’re strictly white ta­ble cloth, while other coun­tries we’re sell­ing larger vol­ume cuts.”

A par­tic­u­lar source of pride for OWB is its in­tro­duc­tion into the Chi­nese mar­ket, con­sid­ered the world’s fastest-grow­ing over­seas mar­ket for beef since the re­cent lift­ing of its im­port ban fol­low­ing a mad cow dis­ease scare in 2003.

Cur­rently, only a few fa­cil­i­ties in the en­tire coun­try are ac­tively ex­port­ing beef to China, which re­quires its beef im­ports to be source- and age-ver­i­fied, and come from hor­mone and beta-ag­o­nist free cat­tle.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to be a part of that small niche of pro­duc­ers that are sell­ing meat to China, let alone a com­pany that’s only just over a year old,” Brandt said.

Lo­cally, Brandt said that he en­vi­sions the day when OWB is able to process a good por­tion of the es­ti­mated 400,000 head of cat­tle that are raised in the Val­ley.

At the mo­ment, about 90 per­cent of OWB’s cat­tle sup­ply is lo­cally raised, with the re­main­ing per­cent­age be­ing filled by other toll pro­ces­sors, Brandt said.

OWB also acts as a toll pro­ces­sor for var­i­ous other cat­tle pro­duc­ers, who trans­port cat­tle to the Braw­ley fa­cil­ity for slaugh­ter and pro­cess­ing.

“A lot of cus­tomers have been at other fa­cil­i­ties that are com­ing to process their cat­tle here, ob­vi­ously for a rea­son of crafts­man­ship,” Brandt said. “Our model fits cer­tain pro­duc­ers and that’s why they’re com­ing here.”

 ?? PHOTO ?? Em­ploy­ees at One World Beef process meat Tues­day. JULIO MO­RALES PHOTO One World Beef Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice Eric Brandt dis­plays pack­aged beef that is ready for dis­tri­bu­tion on Tues­day at the fa­cil­ity’s plant in Braw­ley. JULIO MO­RALES
PHOTO Em­ploy­ees at One World Beef process meat Tues­day. JULIO MO­RALES PHOTO One World Beef Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice Eric Brandt dis­plays pack­aged beef that is ready for dis­tri­bu­tion on Tues­day at the fa­cil­ity’s plant in Braw­ley. JULIO MO­RALES
 ??  ?? One World Beef em­ployee Rosa Martinez is one of more than 100 em­ploy­ees that Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Eric Brandt cred­its for the beef pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity’s unique cul­ture and con­tin­ued suc­cess. PHOTO BY JULIO MO­RALES
One World Beef em­ployee Rosa Martinez is one of more than 100 em­ploy­ees that Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Eric Brandt cred­its for the beef pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity’s unique cul­ture and con­tin­ued suc­cess. PHOTO BY JULIO MO­RALES

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