Big Sandy Meats - Big Sandy, MT
MMPA CONVENTION 2019 HAVRE, MONTANA
HOSTED BY JIM DUMAS of BIG SANDY MEATS
I have been part of the Beef industry most of my life. My grandfather homestead in the Bear Paw Mountains in 1914 and my dad was born on the mountain. He was literally born in the upstairs bedroom of the neighbor’s house that was set up as a birthing room. He has lived in the mountains his entire life. I left to work in Great Falls as a Certified AutoBody repair technician for about 15 years, but I found myself back at the ranch every weekend. So, when it came time, my family and I moved back home to take over the ranch, which I now own. My dad still lives there. Because of the size of the ranch it’s hard to make a living and support a family on, so after several years of working and trying to figure out what could be done to diversify, The Meat shop in Big Sandy came up for sale. I purchased it in 2011. I have lived at the shop ever since. Nothing unusual from any other plant owner’s story. We have grown this Plant every year that we have owned it. This last year we processed twice the number of beef than had ever gone through this Plant prior to us owning it. We started processing Wild Game 2 years ago (just a few) than last year, we offered Wild Game Processing as one of our services. This year that business has grown again. (Not a large number like most plants see but it is a good start for us). We added a retail counter and a smoker. We are small but growing. We are a Custom Exempt Plant and we knock most of our beef in the field. We cover more than a 100-mile radius around our plant so I spend a lot of time driving.
I feel I have a little bit of a unique view on this industry because I have spent most of my life on the production side and now I’m on the slaughter and sales end (in a small way anyway) so I have had the opportunity to see a little bit of both sides of the beef industry. “From hoof to plate” so to say and it has given me a different way of looking at both sides because of that.
One of the things that I am most proud of as a plant is how well we have been received and promoted in our area (not the Big Sandy area but the Hi line area) The willingness of the other communities to help this business and get the word out for us. We have had several articles in several papers in the last 3 years and the one thing that I am the most out spoken about is not so much "buy from us" as "Buy Local". I think that is one reason several papers have been interested in us is because of the push to buy locally raised locally grown product but not have to pay twice the price that you would pay in a chain store. I guess that is one of the things I am proud of our Plant getting to be known for.
The other thing that I am proudest of as a plant owner is having been given the chance to be on the Board of Directors for the MMPA. That was a great honor when several other long time plants nominated me for the board and I thank all that gave me that opportunity. The one thing I have to say about being on the board is I cannot and will never be able to do for the MMPA what being on the board has done for me. The knowledge that I have gained and been a part of because of this privilege is something I would never had the access to without being given this opportunity. That would have to be the one thing I am the proudest of. So with that I have to thank the MMPA and all of its Plant members for that privilege.
Jim Dumas ~
Big Sandy Shop