Tim Beeler and his Duroc Pork
December 27, 2010 Leave a comment
TIM BEELER- THE FARMER INTERVIEW
What do you get when you take a special bred Duroc sire and breed it with Danish Landrace cross sows, let them have comfortable living and birthing space, and never give them any anti-biotics? You get Beeler’s Duroc pork that’s what. Here, let Tim Beeler explain…
When did you start in the industry?
In 1951 the year I was born. I grew up on a family farm in South Central Iowa. I am the fifth generation in a long line of pig farmers. There is nothing better than growing up on a family farm. While it was long days of hard honest work there was a lot of fun as well. I was driving a tractor at the age of 7 helping my father in with the field work but I also spent many days on my horse and going to 4-H shows all over the country exhibiting our pigs, cattle, and horses. The most valuable thing I gained by growing up on the farm was the work ethic. Something that has stuck with me throughout my career and something I hope I have passed onto my children.
What drew you to the industry, and why become a farmer?
My brothers and I took over the family farm many years ago and continued to raise pigs. One day we decided there had to be a better way of marketing our pork rather than simply loading the pigs on a truck and shipping them to one of the big packers. Consequently we decided to open our own retail store in Des Moines, Iowa. We operated the store for eight years and after seeing how our philosophy of marketing directly to the consumer was received, decided to spread our wings and attempt it on a national scale. The results have been overwhelming. Today people want to meet and know who is raising their food! How rewarding it is to meet so many people who are so appreciative of what we do and are willing to support our family farm.
Even though, I graduated from Iowa State University, I would have to say I gained most of AG education from my father Carl. He was an excellent teacher, spending what ever time required to inspire the love of agriculture within me. He assigned all of his children chores on the farm. He showed us what he expected from us and then held us accountable for accomplishing the task as we were taught. However he would also challenge us to show him a better way. What an instructor!
It was the desire to share the great “natural” taste of pork with everyone! With all the enhanced pork on the market today we wanted people to enjoy the great taste of pork the way they remembered it. We use very specific genetic lines in our Heluka pork. The mammas or sows are large white, landrace cross animals. We selected this sow as she is very docile and good at raising her piglets. This is an extremely important trait as no farrowing crates are allowed on our Heluka farms. The daddy or boar is purebred Duroc, but not just any Duroc. We searched high and low to find a very specific Duroc. Our Heluka standards are very strict when it comes to carcass quality. We focus on the factors that create a great tasting product for you.
While great taste is what our pork is all about as that is what you taste, our process encompasses a whole system of raising pork. The highlights of which are:
- Gestation and farrowing crates are not allowed on our farms
- Sows and growing pigs must be allowed to go outside
- The animals are grouped in large social groups
- Gestating and growing pigs are housed in deep bedded houses allowing them to root, nest and play
- The genetics on all our farms are all the same, creating consistency of product time after time after time
- Of course antibiotics or growth promotants are not administered to any of our pigs and they are fed all vegetarian diets.
What makes a great piece of pork?
Factors in all the flavor enhancing characteristics such as PH, marbling, flavor, and tenderness to deliver a superb dining experience! Add to that the system by which our pigs are raised and you will find our pork hard to beat.
The greatest reward of all! Having my daughter, Abigail become the sixth generation to carry on the tradition of marketing product from our family farm.
Why should I put your product on my menu?
Quality, pork the way it was meant to taste is what will keep your customers coming back to you. Consistency. Knowing you are getting the same quality pork delivery after delivery after delivery. The Beeler story, as you are aware consumers are very concerned about how their food is raised, who has a better story to tell? You are supporting a family farm and know who is raising your pork. Our pork has never been administered any antibiotics or growth promotants and only fed a vegetarian diet.
What influenced you the most in your career?
Owning our retail shop in Des Moines. The customers that we serviced when we had our store in Des Moines were totally impressed that they could get pork that tasted so good! It was truly farm to table. We also learned that we needed to stay consistent as that was so important to customer service and repeat business.
If you could keep only 3 books on the subject, what would they be?
- Good to Great – a book on taking your business to the next level. Meeting the right people and getting the right seat on the bus
- The Outdoor Raising of Pigs– an Iowa State professor gave me that book and it changed the way we raise animals. Little book, big ideas.
- Iacocca: an autobiography– the book on how Lee Iacocca turned Chrysler around
Favorite farmhouse gadget:
White Mountain hand crank ice cream maker
Most memorable dining experience:
With my wife Julie, when I asked her to marry me and get involved in the business and she said yes! Proposed on Friday and married on Sunday. We were at my house and I can’t even remember what I served!
Oh, one more- Way back I had a dining experience with Bala (Owner/Preferred Meats) at I think the The Blue Fox in SF, I really can’t remember. They brought wine and Bala was evaluating the legs and swirling the wine, he said he was aerating the wine to let it bloom. I said let me show you how a red neck aerates it and I took a straw and blew bubbles in the glass- I thought he was going to fall out of his chair!
Beeler’s breakfast sausage links. I had to learn how to fix’em because my wife would only give me a couple at a time and I can eat the whole box! I also love Prime NY Strip.
To order Beeler’s pork call 510.632-4065 or call your rep directly