There is nothing like biting into a cut of high-quality, perfectly cooked steak. Thanks to locally owned company Agri Beef, more and more people are having this experience than ever before. To learn about their growing beef empire, we asked executive VP of Corporate Affairs Jay Theiler to tell us the story. Jay started with Agri Beef twenty-two years ago in a marketing role when the company was a ranching and cattle feeding operation. Since then, the business, and his role in it, have grown tremendously.
Agri Beef’s Operations
Agri Beef encompasses over one-thousand ranching partners across the Western United States. They are involved in every step of the beef lifecycle, including ranching, cattle feeding, and beef processing. Their company boasts four premium beef brands selling their meat to America’s finest retailers and restaurants. Additionally, they export to over 30 countries. Their most recent addition is the True West Beef processing plant in Jerome, Idaho.
True West Sharing Ownership
True West Beef is unlike any beef processing plant in the U.S. thus far because it is 51% Agri Beef owned, with the other 49% ownership comprised of livestock producers. During COVID, the industry faced shutdowns that severely stalled their operations. This backup in supply forced beef prices to drop, causing issues in the supply network. In this new ownership model, livestock producers will have a seat at the table and can help make supply decisions whether there is a disaster or not.
A New Meat Processing Facility in Jerome, ID
The facility itself is an impressive 270,000 square feet. It is built with practical sustainability, like recycling 95% of its water and using every part of the animal. True West’s dedication to total quality has also led them to apply the most advanced practices and food safety measures at their facility. They care about each animal’s well-being and treat their animals with dignity and respect throughout their lifecycle. The company is also socially responsible for the overall health, safety, and education of its employees and the community. They are investing in the community with plans to employ three to four hundred people and produce beef from 500 head of cattle daily. These new jobs will positively impact the surrounding economy, and new multifamily housing projects are already in the works.
What Makes True West Unique
Something unique about this facility is how many windows it has. The goal behind this unusual choice was to create transparency. Jay shares, “We have this long hallway where you can see into the plant. With so much stigma around meat processing, we are trying to create transparency and show what we do while also making it a better environment for our employees.”
Another unique choice, as designed by Erstad Architects, was making the wings of the building look like ranch buildings. This decision was made as a nod to the company’s history and its 1968 founding in American Falls, Idaho. One side houses the offices and fabrication welfare area, while the other contains the processing or harvest welfare area. Both sides have a large cafeteria for employees with massive graphics stretching across the room. The Canyon room shows the iconic Twin Falls canyon and bridge, while the other has an extensive graphic and actual view of the Sawtooth Mountains. Outside is a large courtyard where employees can spend their lunch break when it’s not too windy. Employees designed these additions to make the facility a great place to work.
Furnishing The Facility
There is a mix of office furniture solutions throughout the office and processing plant. The vision was to design a space that felt open, so private offices with a glass wall and individual workstations made their way into the design. In the main office, many cow murals liven up the space. Additionally, a large training room is put to good use training staff. Out in the plant, the furniture needed to withstand the occasional hosing off, so the OEC design team took special care of selecting furniture specifically for that purpose. “Jen and the OEC team were very good listeners to what we were trying to achieve in the building. They were responsive and understanding of our budget constraints, which we greatly appreciated.”
The commercial kitchen adjacent to the large conference room is where the business’s work meets its clientele. “We have some of the most recognizable customers and chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and Michael Mina, who want the highest quality beef. We wanted our facilities to showcase that we understand our customers and their business. When they visit, we will show them the plant and then take them to the test kitchen and cook up samples. Sometimes they bring their chefs out and cook themselves.”
Trailblazers In The Industry
Building this new plant has been a big step for Agri Beef. Through shared ownership with livestock partners, sustainable practices, dedication to their employees and the surrounding community, True West is becoming a trailblazer in the beef industry. Most importantly, they are proud of their work and excited to share it with people locally, nationally, and globally.
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