Building long term relationships is a key mission of Caviness Beef Packers. From the rancher to the dairy manager, from the food distribution service to the local university, the Caviness family works to create meaningful relationships in their industry and community.
“A goal that drives our business is building long-standing relationships with our suppliers, our customers and our employees,” said Terry Caviness, CEO of Caviness Beef Packers. “That’s been our primary goal, and we want them to grow with us and continue to be progressive in the industry.”
Building the Beef Business
Terry graduated from Texas Tech University in 1969 with a degree in industrial management. He immediately returned to work the family business at Caviness Beef Packers. Years later, his sons Trevor and Regan followed suit, coming back to work for the family business after earning their degrees at different institutions. Trevor now serves as the company president and Regan the vice president.
Creating relationships, giving back to the community and operating as a family have been the driving forces for Caviness Beef Packers since Terry’s father, Pete, opened the doors of the packing plant in Hereford, Texas, in 1962.
That first day, Terry said they had around 15 employees and harvested about six head. Now, 58 years later, Caviness Beef Packers harvests up to 2,000 head a day and employs some 1,100 people. What was once a budding business, has turned into a thriving, third-generation family operation in the “Beef Capital of the World.”
“Really, if you’re not growing, you’re falling behind,” Trevor said, “so we’ve always invested capital back into the business. As long as I’ve known or been around, we’ve been building, improving, changing or modifying something.”
The operation outgrew the original plant and moved to a newly constructed facility in 2005. In 2010, they added rendering and hide operations, and they will finish a 130,000-square-foot addition in 2020 that will allow them to add a second shift to their operations.
Products from Caviness Beef Packers are distributed to more than 40 states in the U.S. and exported to at least 13 countries. Trevor said most of their product goes to food service distributors of varying sizes, while the rest is split between retail services and quick service restaurants.
As a family-owned business, Trevor said they can maintain an open-door policy with both their suppliers and customers to encourage open and honest communication about supply and demand in the industry.
Knowing the needs of the industry allows Caviness Beef Packers to respond to consumers wants and needs. Another aspect that helps them respond to shifting demands is the size of their operation. As a smaller operation, Trevor said, they can be agile and maneuver to meet the desires of the consumers with the supply they have.
“We’ve always kind of had the motto of, ‘If the consumer is willing to pay and we can do it, then we’ll jump through hoops to provide him or her with what they want,’” Trevor said. “Our ultimate goal as an industry is to satisfy the consumer.”
Cows and bulls currently make up 90% of the cattle harvested at the Caviness Beef Packers’ plant, while the other 10% are cattle younger than 30-months from area feed yards. Terry said the cattle are all procured from within a 600-mile radius of the packing plant. They work with area ranchers and dairy operations to procure cattle for their bull and cow processing and strive to add as much value to the operations of their suppliers as possible.
Investing in Education
As the Caviness family has invested in their relationships with those in the local industries and community, they have been able to give back to the community in very meaningful ways.
Supporting higher education initiatives in the West Texas region is one way the Caviness family helps foster their community.
With their deep roots in the agriculture community and a vested interest in the continued advancement of agriculture in the region, the Caviness family said they feel it is especially important to support higher education in that field. This is what led their family to be one of the philanthropic trailblazers for the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Whoever supports the area ranches, feed yards and dairies – we’re with them,” said Terry. “They’re our life blood.”
Dr. Guy Loneragan, BVSc, the dean of the Texas Tech’s new School of Veterinary Medicine, said the Caviness’ investment has made the vet school possible.
“When you look at the vet school you can look at it as a number of ways,” said Loneragan. “It’s an educational program, it’s a workforce program, but above all else, it’s a program that is engaged in the community. So when people like the Caviness family step up to contribute to those activities, it means that the community’s invested in that engagement as well.”
Loneragan said there are two main goals guiding the recruitment strategy, admissions structure and curriculum design for the new vet school: serving rural and regional communities and increasing access to affordable education in Texas.
The school will recruit and admit students from rural and regional communities Loneragan said. They will also encourage students to not only go back and work in those rural and regional communities, but really invest in their communities in a similar way as the Caviness family has invested in their community.
This Texas Tech model of veterinary education is what really moved the Caviness family to invest in this initiative. They want to see the university educating students from rural and regional communities, Trevor said, and giving those students the tools necessary to send veterinarians back to help advance rural communities.
Trevor said his family and the company believe education is critical to developing young people and advancements in the industry. He said the relationship Caviness has developed with the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine will help bring bright people into rural communities to help advance their industry and the community.
“You have to look at Tech’s model of looking at more than just paper scores,” said Trevor, “and it’s modeled to get folks back to rural communities. You have to find someone with a passion for ag, teach them skills and give them the tools needed to go and invest in those rural communities.”
Supporting the Community
The Caviness spirit of building relationships and investing in the community has truly shone during the challenging times caused by COVID-19. As the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on the meat packing industry and the Caviness’ West Texas community, Trevor said they have done their part to make sure their employees are safe and fill the needs of their community.
Caviness Beef Packers has followed all federal guidelines and taken over 40 additional protective measures in their plants to ensure employee safety said Trevor. Led by their health and wellness team, along with their safety team, they have also provided education to their employees about safety measures at work and home to help protect the health of their employees and their families. Because of this, Caviness Beef Packers has only had two employees test positive for coronavirus and they have been able to continue to keep their plant running at 100% capacity.
“Our number one priority is doing an effective job of educating on best practices to keep people COVID free,” said Trevor. “That is our main focus today.”
Trevor said they have also been able to use their industry relationships to help fill needs in the community during the pandemic through donations to nonprofits in the area.
We just want to help fill the needs so the community prospers.
Caviness Beef Packers partnered with Cactus Feeders and others in the local agriculture community to support the High Plains Agriculture Pop-Up Pantry where 2,000 farm-fresh family food packs of beef, milk, cheese and other items were provided to people in need in the local community. They have also financially contributed to an emergency fund created by the Amarillo Area Foundation and have provided a total of $300,000 in bonuses to their employees.
“We’ve been helping out nonprofits and others with good initiatives to help those in need,” said Trevor. “We’ve been giving out ground beef, contributing to food pantries and providing dollars to help those with true needs. We’ve been there.”
Building relationships and investing in the community have been key initiatives at Caviness Beef Packers for the past 58 years. From early childhood education to senior citizen initiatives, from higher education to nonprofit support, Trevor said their family works to give back to their community in any way they can. They want their communities to grow to create a healthy and prosperous environment for all who live there.
“We do what we can to enhance all their life initiatives,” said Trevor. “We feel like it’s our civic duty to do that. We just want to help fill the needs so the community prospers.”