Mountain Steer Meat Company has received its Federal Grant of Inspection and is now eligible for beef grading by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Graded local beef assists small processing plants by showcasing, on an official level, the quality of regional cattle. Through ultrasound and camera grading, Mountain Steer offers a product that consistently meets the high standards established by their business.
Mountain Steer Meat Company, which is co-owned by James Tuckwiller and Frank Ford, expanded their operations in November of 2022 by opening their own processing facility at 169 Pocahontas Trail, White Sulphur Springs. Attached to this facility is a retail store offering individually packaged products for direct-to-consumer sales.
“Having the ability to grade our beef allows us to truly market the quality of beef that we provide weekly.” said Tuckwiller. “Ultrasound, camera grading and federal inspection will work hand in hand with our efforts to put West Virginia on the map for superior Angus beef.”
Peni Adams, senior business advisor at the West Virginia Hive, said Tuckwiller and Ford have taken advantage of multiple opportunities provided by the Hive. This includes business advising and technical assistance, receiving investments from the Country Roads Angel Network, and graduating from the Communities of Healing program, a Fruits of Labor partnership program that promotes recovery to work opportunities among trained employers in southern West Virginia.
Judy Moore, executive director of the West Virginia Hive and deputy director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA), said “Mountain Steer Meat Company is not only a client of the Hive but one of CRAN’s proudest investments during initial development of the network. We appreciate that James and Frank came to us early on and allowed us to work with them. It’s extremely rewarding for us to see our clients thrive like Mountain Steer.”
Moore said Mountain Steer Meat Company secured investments of $250,000 from CRAN over the last 2 years and a $249,660 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help finance its business expansion. The Country Roads Angel Network is West Virginia’s only accredited angel investment network, serving all 55 counties of the state.
Tuckwiller and Ford founded the company in June 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Mountain Steer was just an idea at first, conjured by the meat shortage due to corporate meat companies running on fumes during the pandemic,” said Ford. “Our farms were dependent on facilities in other states to process meat from our cattle,” he said. “Steer born and raised in our region was processed and packaged out of state, only to be brought back to West Virginia for sale. Our goal at Mountain Steer is to simplify operations and provide a local processing facility, ensuring our customers pay reasonable prices and enjoy knowing what they are consuming is locally grown, superior beef from start to finish.”
Ford said the company has created eight jobs (head butcher, six butcher’s assistants, and an administrator). Mountain Steer currently processes 15,000 pounds of fresh beef per month.
The small business currently serves two local county school districts (Greenbrier and Nicholas County School Systems), the local IGA grocery store, and eight local restaurants.