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A Cup with Kerry

Kerry Mayfield at the Wolfforth Farmers Market
Tierras Planas Roasters' Founder and Owner, Kerry Mayfield, eagerly awaits the opportunity to greet and engage with customers at the Wolfforth Farmers Market.

With one deep breath, the fruity citrus aroma of the coffee ignites your senses. The warmth of the mug on your palms and the steam rising from the cup take you to a pleasant memory. The noise around you begins to fade, and the world seems to stop for a second. As you take the first sip, a blend of flavor dances across your taste buds, and you ask yourself: What makes the perfect cup of coffee? 

The Founder

Kerry Mayfield, who earned a doctorate in agricultural and horticultural plant breeding from Texas A&M in 2011, spent a good portion of his career studying and researching a variety of crops throughout the state of Texas. However, a new passion led to a different business opportunity.

In April 2018, he founded Tierras Planas Roasters and transitioned into a full-time coffee roasting career an occupation that started as a personal interest. 

“My roasting started because we had terrible coffee at the office,” Mayfield said. “So, that’s what really started the personal side of roasting; I just wanted a better cup of coffee.” 

So, Mayfield purchased his first coffee roaster and begin learning how to make the perfect cup.

Snowballing

Mayfield found himself having to roast beans one to two times a week to share with family or friends. 

“I was pulling out almost two pounds of coffee,” Mayfield explained, “and I was like, ‘I can spread that out and everybody can have great coffee for a while.’ Then it started snowballing.”

Kerry Mayfield talks with potential client at the Wolfforth Farmers Market
The perfect cup depends on what peaks clients’ taste buds, explained Kerry Mayfield founder and owner of Tierras Planas Roasters. These preferences are what he works to identity when talking with clients.

In April 2018, Mayfield began marketing his products through face-to-face retail at the Wolfforth Farmers Market, an event where he has continued to develop relationships and encounter new clients every Saturday.

Then, in December of that year, Mayfield attended the Coffee Connection, a networking event hosted by the Texas Tech Club. Although out of his comfort zone, Mayfield introduced himself and his business to the group. With a humble smile, Mayfield recalled the marketing director of the event approached him about needing better coffee. This was Mayfield’s first commercial account. 

The Pour

Getting in front of crowds did not come naturally to Mayfield, yet when life started to unfold, he did not shy away from the challenge as a change in profession presented itself.

“The Lord said, ‘No, no, this is your time to start [Tierras Planas Roasters],’” Mayfield said. “So we started it.” 

Someone who once spent hours in research and development now devotes his time gathering in community at networking events and meetings.

Although getting to drink phenomenal coffee daily is a high point of his job, Mayfield’s passion focuses on the chance to impact others. 

“It’s all about community,” he emphasized. “Jesus was about bringing people together.”

A personal interest for better coffee revealed a calling to meet and develop relationships with people in the community. 

“I just wanted something that would hopefully pull people together to where they can sit down and have a conversation about life,” Mayfield said. “What life is for that person, I have no idea.” 

Amy Wood is CEO of Flint Avenue Marketing and works with Mayfield on Tierras Planas Roasters marketing efforts. 

 “Kerry and I met through a mutual acquaintance at the Chamber of Commerce,” Wood said. “It was a referral.” 

Tierras Planas Roasters togo coffee cup
Mayfield has many talents when it comes to coffee. He not only roasts his one coffee but also makes lattes, expressos, and pour-overs for clients.

Both Mayfield and Wood are members of the Lubbock Small Business Network. At almost every gathering, ribbon cutting or meeting, this group generally ends up congregating around Mayfield’s truck for a cup of coffee, Wood shared. 

“Kerry almost always has a pot of coffee in his truck,” Wood said in an astonished manner. “I don’t mean like a cane pot, I mean, he actually has brewed coffee he carries around with him in his truck.” 

Wood said Mayfield’s cup of coffee is a tool to build community and start conversations. 

“[The Mayfield’s] wanted to promote … having a cup of coffee and a conversation,” Wood said, “and how important it is to just enjoy that moment.”

“It’s all about community.”

 Reflecting 

Mayfield said regardless of how his coffee gets into someone’s cup, he hopes it will somehow have an impact. 

“Hopefully, if they’re having a great day, it adds to it,” Mayfield said.  “Hopefully, if they’re having a bad day, it gives them maybe a bright spot, maybe a level of comfort, maybe a memory.” 

Almost 26 years ago, coffee provided Mayfield with the same comfort and memories he now hopes to provide to others. After Mayfield’s grandfather passed, he recalled having a conversation with friends of his grandparents. He said one couple always felt welcomed at his grandparents’ house because there was always a cup of coffee there for them. 

As Mayfield reflected on the conversation he had with the couple, he developed a new perspective on coffee.

 “And it’s a different culture now,” Mayfield said. “But it’s still the same thing; it’s all about community and what we can use to bring people together.” 

Mayfield said some people use a cup of coffee, others use a glass of beer, whiskey or scotch.

“These things, when used properly, are all about community, all about bringing people together for some reason,” Mayfield said. “For, hopefully, building each other up on some levels.”

What makes the perfect cup of coffee? 

“It’s all about the person holding the cup.”

Connecting with the Community

Caviness Family
From left, Terry, Regan and Trevor start their days early, either at the plant or in the corporate office. (Photo courtesy of Caviness Beef Packers.)

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.”

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