DecisionNext has a long list of experienced customers, partners, industry advocates, and friends that know a lot about the meat industry.
We are honored this month to have met with meat industry veteran, entrepreneur, and Meatingplace Knowlton Award Winner for innovative contributions to the meat industry, Bill Rupp.
1) What got you started in the meat business?
Not a sexy story. I graduated in the early 1980’s with a business admin degree from the University of South Dakota. The job market was tough and the advice of the guidance counselor was “if you get a job offer, take it!”. My offer came from Cargill, who had just bought into the beef industry and was looking to develop talent. I started at $12,995/yr in Friona, TX. Thanks to the great people at Cargill, JBS, and other good folks involved in the industry it flourished into a great career. My approach to the industry was that it is a people business at all levels and our job as leaders is to teach and engage. I think it served me well!
2) What will have the biggest impact in the industry over the next 10 years?
I believe the industry needs to come to grips with how to better manage its environmental footprint. Lots of good things starting to happen with regards to this and we need the whole supply chain to be willing to step up and be part of the solution.
I think another key impact could be the building of supply chains where beef is optimized from the meat counter back to the animal. There is lots of opportunity to greatly improve revenue by utilizing technology and aligning the supply chain to benefit the consumer. We have to get away from the feast or famine part of the cattle cycle where we always have big winners offset by big losers. Let’s start using what’s available to sculpt strong supply chains that optimize revenue and provide fair price and great quality to the consumer.
3) What is your favorite cut of meat and how do you prepare it?
I like the Flap Meat (aka Bavette)! Great piece of meat with lots of flexibility as well as great flavor and leanness. I just like to season it with salt, pepper and a little garlic and put it on the grill. I’m a “flipper “ so every time I flip I give it a generous douse of Worcestershire sauce
4) What makes you the most hopeful for the next generation of industry professionals?
I think the next generation will embrace technology much better than the present one. There are becoming more and more tech solutions out there that can help various parts of the industry that are cost effective and create very good returns. Mother Nature is always going to cause cyclicality and volatility in our industry and it is incumbent on the industry leaders to learn to manage it better than we have in the past. The behavior of taking credit for the “good” part of the cycle and “hunkering down” to ride out the bad part of the cycle is yesterday’s management approach. Technology is readily available to help the industry do better.
5) Who shaped your career in your early years?
I am a product of a great village of people who taught me the business from the floor of the packing plant forward. Since then I’ve also had the privilege of meeting and learning from many great families who work incredibly hard to feed the world on North America’s farms and ranches. The Beef Industry is incredibly complex but we have many great and capable people involved in it!