#71: John Saunders & Spencer Lomax – Where Food Comes From, Inc.
John Saunders & Spencer Lomax Transcript
Neil Dudley: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. We are so excited you’re here. We appreciate you joining us. And we look forward to sharing these conversations with thought leaders from our industry. They’re going to paint a picture from every perspective, consumer, customer, vendor, employee, and peer, that I think is going to be super valuable and we’re really excited to share. So thanks for tuning in. Remember, don’t tune out and grab life by the bacon.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Pederson’s Farms- this is what I love about a podcast. It is live. But it is, I mean, we’ll probably even leave that in there. Because this is just a real conversation between some guys who are in the market, who are interested in where your food comes from. Crazy thing is their business is called Where Your Food Comes From. I want to introduce them to you. I want you all to enjoy an opportunity to learn from a couple of guys who really take it to heart, let’s try to give consumers the experience to understand agriculture, animal agriculture, farming and ranching systems. I guess the man with the CEO title, the founder is Mr. John Saunders. John, thank you so much for your time. There’s no doubt you’re a very busy guy. And if you don’t mind, just introduce yourself to our listeners for a second and tell them about where you came up with this business plan.
John Saunders: Well, I’m John Saunders, the CEO of Where Food Comes From. Neil, thanks for having us here today. I founded Where Food Comes From 27 years ago with my wife. And we had a real strong interest in connecting the gap between producers and consumers and giving consumers a way to understand where their food truly comes from. And probably the best way to understand exactly what it is that we do as a company is if you walk into the grocery store, and you walk up to the meat case or you walk up to the eggs or you walk up to the milk, and you see certain labels or criteria or affirmations made about that product, we call them trust badges. Those badges are verified by somebody, and we’re the company that has the boots on the ground that goes out and makes sure that those claims that are being made are truthful and accurate.
Neil Dudley: As a brand who wants to fly those badges and make those claims, you’re integral. You’re verifying that my words aren’t just for the money. They’re really truly what we do. We say all the time, third party verification is a cornerstone to what Pederson’s does. Because we can say we do it, and we’re pretty honest people, but anytime the bottom line starts getting squeezed or market share starts getting squeezed, you can find some really good reasons to cut a corner. And with a third party verification, you know they’re going to catch you, or at least the consumers can really trust that what we’re saying is being looked at by somebody doesn’t really have a financial stake in the play. Okay, everybody, you might not have seen this other guy yet. His name is Spencer Lomax. He’s got on a fine pearl snap shirt, which I just want to high five. I think John might be wearing one too. Like that’s just some cowboy stuff right there. Spencer, say hi to the listeners, and give them a little quick snippet of who you are.
Spencer Lomax: Well, hello, everyone. And thanks, Neil, for having us on. And it’s good to see you. I’m in a role with Where Food Comes From as the director of market development. And really what I’m trying to do and my experience, and we met years back when I was on the restaurant side of things and the procurement side, and my experience has been further downstream in a supply chain working for restaurants and food distributors that focus on really scaling responsible food into the market. And so my role to work for Where Food Comes From is to really help, try to help our partner producers find markets. And sometimes, John and I have a lot of conversations about chicken or the egg. We just were having one. Sometimes you need to drive the demand for those trust badges. And sometimes you need to work with producers to help convince them why certain markets may require that. There might be another level or layer of complexity in what they’re doing to bring another auditor on or take that step to verify what your practices are. But it’s helpful because consumers and restauranteurs and chefs and others may want that assurance. So my role, as I see it, is really trying to help connect into the marketplace.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, that’s great. And I can imagine there’s a chance our listeners hear the word auditor and think IRS, scary, bad deal. That’s not the kind of auditors were partnering with at Where Food Comes From, IMI Global, this kind of suite of businesses. That’s another thing I want to touch on before we’re done, John, is that really there’s more to what you’re up to than just Where Food Comes From, you’re kind of playing on some other ball fields. I want to touch on those things, too, because I think that gives everybody a glimpse into just your company. And ultimately, that’s important to people. It is to me. Okay, so I typed this question pretty much for everybody. It’s just all of these questions are going to be kind of super meaningful in this conversation because I say that a lot – where food comes from. So what is the most important thing about where food comes from? Now you get to talk about it in two visuals, so your company Where Food Comes From and then also where food comes from, like how does it get to people’s plates?
John Saunders: Well, in each industry that we work in, it’s a myriad of different individuals and companies and supply chains. So I think based on the conversation that you are having in the cowboy hat today that I’m going to focus probably primarily on beef, and then we can talk about some of the other products that we verify as well. But beef is a really interesting one right now. And the diversity and the fragmentation of the industry makes it very difficult, in most cases, to know exactly where a piece of meat comes from and to understand that, the route that that product took to get to your plate. We provide clarity to consumers to do that. So when they make a purchase that probably in most cases, whether that consumer is in the United States or that consumer’s in Tokyo or that consumer is in Paris, that they’re probably going to pay more money for that product. And that really gets back to the core of what Where Food Comes From is to me, Neil, as a company. And that is a virtuous circle of rewarding the people that are producing the food in a careful and a meaningful way for consumers that are more than willing to pay for that product and that assurance of whatever that attribute that they’re specifically looking for was. And I think what we’ve come to grips with is that consumers are very different. And we’ve got a certain group of consumers that are very interested in potentially an organic product or a non genetically modified product. And we respect that as a certification company. And I think as producers, as agriculture, we should respect that too because they’re still willing to purchase our product, it’s just a little bit different type of product. And we don’t want to disparage that in any way. We want to respect that consumer, first of all, because they’re purchasing meat. They’re contributing to agriculture, and they’re doing it in a value added way that’s going to give that producer a better return on their investment for participating in whatever this verification is. For me, it’s a way to reward the participants of the system. In the United States, they’re doing it in a voluntary way. They’re not forced to do any of the services that we offer. And they’re true capitalists, and they’re getting a return on their investment for doing it.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, well, how do you get paid?
John Saunders: We get paid by the producer. We come on site, and we conduct an audit the same way that your CPA or your lawyer would come on site, and you would pay them a fee. We’re paid by the producer, which again, I think we were talking about at the beginning is a way for us to maintain the independence of that producer, so the confidentiality of the information that we’re gathering while we’re there. So that information remains with that producer, and they’re just approved as part of the process. So that’s how we get paid.
Neil Dudley: I just think like that is part of the reason to have the podcast. I mean, I think really curious consumers, they have that question. I do. Sometimes, when I’m just in business meetings, I have that question a lot. Well, how do you get paid? I mean, this all sounds really good and yeehaw, but how are you getting paid? How am I going to know y’all are going to stay in business? So that’s how they do it. They charge a fee to people like me who want to be able to say the thing who value, who have consumers that want that third party out there verifying things.
John Saunders: Yeah, and a lot of times what we do, Neil, is we add markets for those producers. So, it’s like if you go to the sale ring, and you want to sell your cattle, you really don’t need five or six people bidding on your cattle, that’s great, but at a minimum, you need two. And really what we’re trying to do is provide market opportunities for producers, which in some cases gives them more money. In some cases, that gives them more confidence in their values and the way that they’re producing their food.
Neil Dudley: I can think of quickly five companies who won’t even consider you unless you have some of these verifications, some of these third party audits. So there you go. You might be excluding a few of the real price sensitive opportunities. But you’re also opening yourself- you are just getting in the game. I say, I just want my hat in the ring. Like, I’m probably not going to win every time. I just want to be able to play. Like get me on the game, get me on the field. I was about to ask Spencer the next question just because I think he might have a really cool insight here. And that is, what is the least understood piece of where your food comes from? Maybe not the company, but just in general. Out there, as you’re building these new markets, as you’re in the different pieces of the industry, what has kind of been a glaring- Is there such a thing? I think there is. Of course, I’m leading you here. I don’t mean to do that. Do you think there’s such a thing as misunderstood pieces?
Spencer Lomax: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get, whether it’s on the sourcing side for restaurants or on the distribution side or now working further upstream and working with producers, is people don’t understand that it needs to go on a truck, and that truck needs to go to a warehouse, and that warehouse is going to be part of a larger network of warehouses. And so really, the logistics piece and the distribution piece is really hard to navigate. It’s hard to navigate for producers trying to find the market. It’s hard to navigate for chefs and other end users that just want that good product. And so, it’s not the sexiest thing about the food story to talk about. But it is a hard, it’s a hard piece. And it can be expensive when you add in the layers of labor and fuel and warehousing and all those things. And so sometimes I don’t think it’s well understood, it’s hard to navigate, but it’s very necessary in order for producers of any stripe, but particularly smaller producers, to find the market. It is a misunderstood and challenging piece in the middle and can be hard to navigate. And so suffice to say that I think that is one of the bigger challenges in getting that good food to the consumer. There’s a lot of moving parts in the middle.
Neil Dudley: So true. And we’re coming out of COVID. We’re recording this late 2022. And I’m telling you, anybody doing anything in CPG or really that has to do with freight or logistics is understanding that’s difficult, especially now. You’ve got like 12 loads per truck driver in the reefer LTL freight world, which is where Pederson’s lives. So I’m not sure we can clear it up in this 30 minute exploration of y’all’s company and what you do. But just suffice it to say, everybody, that’s one of those things that when your prices are going up, okay, thanks to we’re in a recessionary time, we’ve got inflation coming, that’s a piece of it. But also, when fuel goes up, freight goes up, all these things, and that affects your food costs, it affects the cost of the farmers. I mean, to drive the feed trucks or to do any of the work they’re doing, those costs go up. Well, let’s give your wife a little shout out, John. I mean, how is it working in the office with your wife? Is that how it is? I mean, I’m just picturing y’all sitting in like desks facing each other and building this company.
John Saunders: I met her professionally, so we started out on that playing field. So, I think, from that standpoint, we’ve always had that going for us. We fell in love after we worked together for a little bit. At first, she didn’t really like me very much. So that was it took a little while to get over the hump.
Neil Dudley: Hey, every man should have to chase his wife. I’ve got three daughters. I’m trying to teach them that truth. Like, hey, make them work. Make them earn that respect before. I think it’s a thing that if we get off on some philosophical tangent here, like our world’s missing a little bit. So ladies listening, I really think you got to hold the men to a standard here.
John Saunders: No question. Yeah, she- Yeah. Well, I have two daughters, myself, and that’s one of the things that we talk about a lot. But she really helped me get my stuff together as a leader of the company. And a lot of times, it wasn’t necessarily the things I was doing right, it was the things I was doing wrong, and the things that I needed to make sure that I was staying in my own lane on. She handles all of the operations of the companies. Any interactions she has mostly with Spencer on a day to day basis. So, I have a much different role. So really, I think it’s understanding your strengths, being willing to admit your weaknesses, and then just like any marriage, being able to figure out how you do that. Probably the most interesting part of our relationship is that we obviously live together and then we drive about 15 miles into the house, and we never ever drive in the same vehicle. And everybody’s always surprised when they see us in the same vehicle because it’s like, what are you guys doing? Well, the truth is, that’s our only time apart. So we go to bed together, we get up, we eat breakfast, we drive separately into the office, and then we do, our offices are right next to each other. So, it’s great. But she’s been the best professional person that I’ve ever worked with. She’s taught me more vocationally. She’s helped me to get better at everything all the time, trying to really look at myself and understand how I can lead the company better. So it’s been rewarding. It’s definitely had its ups and downs.
Neil Dudley: Well, hey, that’s life. Like, that’s part of what this conversation also has to have in it – imperfection. Pederson’s won’t be- Listen, this isn’t a Pederson’s commercial. I’m not saying we do everything perfect, right, or anything. I’m just trying to pass along people that I’m connected to who I think are genuine, honest, good, hard- Listen, also, I think you’re touching on another great thing. These businesses are family owned businesses the same as farms and ranches are family owned businesses. So, it’s cool that this kind of relationship in America and probably even globally is possible. It is part of what I think makes my time on Earth really enjoyable and valuable and something I want to share.
John Saunders: Yeah. Well, on your last question for Spencer, not to get in on it, but I think one of the most misunderstood understood things about agriculture is just what you said, that there really isn’t a thing as a factory farm because every agricultural supply chain that I’ve been a part of, there is a family that’s starting it some way or somehow. And that goes through, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the packing plant, the distributors of the product, the feed yards, the ranchers, the people that- the veterinarians, most veterinarians have a succession plan with children that are coming in. So agriculture is a family run business. And as much as I think the media tries to convince consumers that this is a factory type business, the misunderstood part is its people, its families that are starting this. And we’re no different than everybody and even with your family, Neil.
Neil Dudley: Sure. I think it’s fun that we can do our business, we run our business away. It’s different than others. It may be different than big feedlots or big packing plants or even super small- A guy named Will Harris has got some acclaim recently, made it on to the Joe Rogan Experience. He talked a little bit about his opinions about a lot of stuff. I align with most of them, I don’t necessarily align with all of them. But that’s okay. I mean, that’s what I wish our political system, our whole country, everybody would kind of realize. We’re all living our own lives. And I mean, I don’t want somebody infringing on mine, particularly, and I’m not a big fan of some of the thought processes out there. But that doesn’t- I’m not going to now just lose it over it. And like, I will kind of try to control my house and replicate, propagate those beliefs I’ve learned, been taught and found valuable in life. But I can’t be in charge of the other people’s. Here was another interesting thing, I’m curious what your take is. To me the word healthy is good. It is absolutely like I want people to think our products are healthy. I just about fell out of my chair the other day, somebody said, “Well, that’s offensive to me.” Like if you’re putting healthy on there, it’s almost like you’re telling me if I’m not healthy, I can’t have it. Or you think you know what healthy is. Like, you should probably get a badge for that. How are we going to verify and define healthy? And it’s from a person I love. I mean, like that viewpoint is from one of the most trusted people in my life. So it’s like, okay, cool. So you got to get over some of this stuff, everybody. All right, so let’s see here. What’s the last, most recent – let’s start with John, then we’ll go to Spencer – education, failure, win, something that just kind of pops in your mind when I ask that question, like, oh cool, this is this is probably something I’d pull up quickly?
John Saunders: Just as something that surprised me or something that-?
Neil Dudley: Yeah, sure. I mean, something you’ve created. And I use the word education. I know you’re not a big fan of that. It’s just trying to get this little piece of the conversation spurred because I know you sit in a role within a company that’s super- that other people do as well. And that insight would be valuable to them.
John Saunders: Yeah, maybe I’ll let Spencer go first and think about it a little bit.
Neil Dudley: You got one Spencer right away?
Spencer Lomax: To clarify, just something I’ve learned recently or surprised me sort of by what we do?
Neil Dudley: This is probably a failure on the interview right here. So I’m going to change my question.
Spencer Lomax: No, I got one.
John Saunders: I’m thinking through it. I’m thinking through it. I just need a little time.
Neil Dudley: That’s okay. But like these questions with 16 different options, that is- I mean, that’d be hard to answer.
Spencer Lomax: I think building on what we just sort of talked about, what John talked about, about the importance- all these stories of families and others that are producers. One of the biggest surprises, I had a chance recently to visit Southeast Asia, to visit Vietnam and visit smallholder shrimp farms, black tiger shrimp farms. And it was a surprise to me and an education for me to see, I had not long before that visited some catfish farms here domestically in Alabama. And to see that whether you are in Alabama, you’re in Mekong, Delta, Vietnam, there are small holder farmers doing much the same practices and good practices that are taking care of their land, taking care of their families. And to see that firsthand and have this experience to travel, I was very grateful to do to go see this, is very surprising to me. And I don’t know. I went in pretty open minded, but I was very surprised to see that, wow, this is, wherever you are in the world, there are people globally and domestically that are taking care of their property, the animals that they’re raising, and trying to make a living and get that product to market. And so the value of trying to help tell those stories through whether it’s through a certification program, verification program, or just taking a photo and saying, look at this, what a beautiful, amazing thing, or try this amazing product, there’s a lot of ways to educate. There’s that word for John. This was an experience, as you were trying to say earlier, Neil, type of journey and very surprising, and pleasantly so.
Neil Dudley: Like the global nature of business these days, it’s nice to have somebody. I’ve not gone and seen a tiger shrimp farm, but I can do some business with you. We can have a relationship. You can tell me about it. And we’re trusted. Now, I might not take your opinion as the only one. Maybe I’ll go think about another one or ask another question or see what I can find. I just love it the way that information is available to us to learn if we want to.
John Saunders: Alright, Neil, I’m ready.
Neil Dudley: Okay, hit me.
John Saunders: And you just, yeah, you guys just got all the juices flowing. Just I’ll come back to your healthy comment. And this has been something that’s happened over the last year and a half for me. And as I mentioned, I have two daughters. My middle daughter, she’s a sophomore at Texas Tech in Lubbock.
Neil Dudley: Did you know I graduated from tech? Guns up.
John Saunders: Are you a Raider? I did not know that. So she’s involved in agriculture there. So she’s going to, I don’t know exactly where she’s going to end up. But then our youngest is a senior in high school here, and she’s obviously a girl too. So the learning, and back to your healthy comment, was when Hannah, my oldest, came back from college her first year, within a week of being in the house, we started getting these new things that were showing up in the refrigerator. So we had quinoa, we had some kombucha, we had oat milk, we had three or four different kinds of yogurt that I’d never heard of before, and we had some really strange looking meat. And I asked my daughters, I was like, “What is this stuff?” And they were like, “Well, dad, that’s the new trend. It’s all about health. We want clean foods. We want clean labels.” And I was literally sitting there going, you know what we do, right? You understand the business? And they said, “Well, Dad, we’ve been wanting to talk to you about that a little bit because we want to know more about the meat that you’re verifying, and what all that really entails, and what the producers are going through.” And it really just opened my eyes around what the concept of healthy means, what the concept of whole foods in the sense of foods that are grown from the ground that aren’t processed, and how there’s a new generation of people that are coming in behind us that have a whole different set of priorities. And as a company and as I think parents and just looking out towards the future, as people that are involved in food and agriculture, we really need to pay attention to what that term healthy means, understanding how we can fit into that. Beef, if you look at the science and the nutrition around beef, it’s literally one of the most healthy products you can eat on the planet. Yet, we don’t talk about that at all. There’s almost no information out there related to the nutritional benefits of eating meat. And that’s something that right now my daughters, especially the one that’s at Tech right now, that’s all she cares about. And it’s been a big learning for me. And it’s been, I think, really helpful for both Leann and I in just where we’re taking the company and what we think the priorities need to be.
Neil Dudley: That’s great. I mean, yeehaw. Yeehaw, that stuff is super important for anybody listening and for business owners listening and for Pederson’s, like those things. We had some consultants in helping us with our business, needling on this or that, are y’all- just trying to get better. Now, it doesn’t always feel like that’s what we’re trying to do, but it is ultimately. They’re from Europe. And it’s just like they know animals are bad for the planet. Like, it’s not even- it’s just like in their DNA. It’s not even a question. Like, well, if you want to be a good person and save the planet, you need to eat less meat. And I was just like, no, no, no, no, that’s not true. Where did you get that? But that’s the culture. That’s the trend. That is what universities are teaching. So we’ve got a big project in front of us to make sure we don’t allow our voice to just disappear. I mean, like I can’t say, now damnit, if you don’t do just what I say and feel just the way I feel, then you’re an idiot. No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying, I want- Listen, this is another thing to think about. And it might not be just de facto true that animals are killing the planet, and anybody that eats one is helping. I just don’t- I think there’s a lot- like you said, I sit on the Texas Beef Council board. And study after study after study shows beef is super, super nutritional, bioavailable food for humans.
Spencer Lomax: Well, all we can do is really, I think whether it’s healthy for humans, healthy for the planet, whatever that assertion is, we can verifiably demonstrate the practices, the attributes of that particular producer or that particular protein or product, and then the consumer can make their choice. And so, we’re not necessarily- don’t need to be in business necessarily of saying what is better and what is worse, we can just simply establish the truths, like the practices, what went into growing this product, this animal, and present verifiably those attributes. And then the consumer, the chef, whoever it is buying that can make their decision on that product.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. And that’s so important because you could probably Google do humans actually have an invisible arm that grows out of their back that they use to scratch the back of their head and find it. Oh, yes, they actually do. It’s this crazy group down in some other country you never- that’s what’s so kind of beautiful and dangerous about the internet. Beautiful that we can have this podcast, we can get in front of a lot of people, it gives them some stuff to think about, another way to see something maybe. Then you could also- kind of have to figure it out some way of filtering out the third arms in the back stuff. Okay, John real quick, so what was the first company you founded? Like, you got IMI Global, you’ve got Where Food Comes From, some other ones. Did you come right out of high school and start companies? Tell me about that a little bit.
John Saunders: No, I don’t talk about it very much. But I actually went out east to go to college and graduated from an Ivy League school and was lucky enough to be able to get away from that scenario and met my wife in Colorado. So now I live in Castle Rock just south of Denver. Really, when I graduated, when I figured out that I wanted to move west, and I wanted to get involved with agriculture, I had to kind of figure out what it was that I could do that somebody was willing to pay me for. And I had started developing some software applications. And my very first contract was with a feed yard in Guymon, Oklahoma. And I started to work with them on some new technology that they had where they were tracking cattle with a radiofrequency ID tag. And they had a reader and I could plug it in my computer and I wrote a real simple software application that allowed the guy at the processing shoot, when he was processing cow, he was doing whatever he was doing, he could scan that tag, and then we’d have a record of everything that had happened to that animal. So that was 1994 when I did that. So everything that seems probably more common now to you, Neil, and things that I’m sure you do every day on your ranch. Nobody was really doing them at the time. So one night Leann and I had a glass of wine and we sat down and I thought I was real smart. And I came up with the name Integrated Management Information. And for about six months, I tried to say that every time somebody would ask me the name of my company and I finally said that’s too much, so we’re going to call it IMI Global. And that was how IMI Global was born. And then after a while, what we realized was the company IMI Global was very specific within the cattle industry, within the US cattle industry. So we had a lot of brand recognition and a lot of long term customers and relationships that we’d established. But we’d seen other companies that were in other industries similar to ours. Probably the most recognized was a company called Validus based in Des Moines which has a very similar proficiency in the pork, poultry and dairy industries that IMI Global has in the cattle industry. And as we acquired these businesses, we realized it was really hard to talk about what it was that we did. And as Leann and I talked just over the years, the four words we kept coming back to was where food comes from and that consumers want to understand that that is really what we’re doing is telling consumers where their food comes from. And that’s when we created what we call the holding company, which is the way that we explain it to people, but we actually have several divisions. We’ve acquired 13 other businesses, the most recent being one that Spencer was just talking about called Postelsia, and they have a long history in sustainable seafood production, particularly in Southeast Asia, and aquaculture, which over the years has been a very shrouded protein source. And when I say that, I mean you almost have no idea where shrimp comes from when you eat it. And I would be willing to bet that probably the last nine out of ten shrimp that you ate, Neil, if you eat shrimp, probably came from another country, and you have no idea which country that is. So there’s a massive opportunity and a massive need in seafood to provide the same type of stuff that we’ve been doing in the cattle industry in the US for a long time. So it’s been really exciting over the years to grow that way because it’s given me a way to learn so much more about agriculture. And I think, to get to Spencer’s point that when you really understand somebody that’s willing to dedicate their life to producing food for both themselves and for others, you truly understand philanthropy and community and giving and being a part of something that’s more important than yourself. So all the signs that you read that say that one Kansas farmer feeds 130 people, I take that to heart. And those people, each and every one of those people that’s doing it, whether they’re in Vietnam or they’re in Texas, they’re doing it for the same reasons. And that’s what gets me up every morning. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. That’s why Spencer’s out beating the bush and trying to create these relationships where we can match up those consumers that are willing to pay and want to pay more money with the producers that are willing to do it.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, that vote with the dollar is so super valuable. Like those consumers that value those things, every time, they buy maybe one pack of bacon from Pederson’s, which might be, let’s call it a $2 premium. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it keeps us in business. It keeps us with the opportunity to do those things again and again and again. So all consumers- I think that about anything I do. Like I really like to shop local. I like to do business with people that do business with me. So I think all of those things play out in the world in a really cool way. Oh, by the way, on the shrimp, I have ate shrimp that I know where they come from one time. We were fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico. And the guide said, hey, bring an extra case of beer. Okay, we’ll do that. Well, while we’re out there, he goes up to a shrimp boat, tosses the beer to them, they toss us a bunch of shrimp. We eat those that night. So that one time I’m sure where it came from. The rest of the time, not so much.
John Saunders: Well, I got one question for you then. So how does a guy with a cowboy hat and a cattle ranch end up selling bacon?
Neil Dudley: Well, everybody, you just got to go listen to the episode I did with Cody Lane of the podcast. It talks about that. He and I were friends since kindergarten. We are both just cowboys, kind of central Texas guys that parents raised cattle, kind of cow calf operations. He ended up getting the job at Pederson’s through kind of a crazy scenario, made president in a year’s time, called me, said, hey, they’re calling me president over here at this company, and I need some help. And as rodeoing. I didn’t have any real direction in my life at that point. This is all like 20 years ago. So I’m like, sure, you bet. Let’s do it. Tell me, like what do you want me to know when I come? He said, you need to know what HASSOP means. I was like, okay, where should I start? I got no clue. Help me out. He said, that that’s how I felt. I’ll just go ahead and tell this story because anybody that’s listening this far, they’re just getting the extra nuggets. By the way, thanks for listening this far because your time is your most valuable asset. I don’t care how big your bank account is, how great any other thing, the time you have in this world and in this life is- that second just ticked by, we don’t get it back. And we don’t know when the end’s coming. So, your time is super valuable. These conversations I know are valuable to somebody, hopefully it’s you and you’ve enjoyed your time here. But anyways, he got hired, he showed up. He was supposed to be the marketing director. And they said, oh, well, glad you came, but a little change, you’re going to be our QA director. And he said, “Well, what does that mean?” They said, “You need to know what HASSOP is.” So he just started calling his professors at A&M, ultimately taught himself what HASSOP was, he got all the HASSOP documents in place, GMPs. And that’s where he started me. And kind of luckily, that’s really valuable to us today in these leadership roles we play to have that kind of base understanding of food safety, what it takes for a plant to even stay inspected and those kinds of things. That’s the story. I mean, in short, there’s a lot more color to it.
John Saunders: Well, I’m sure a lot of people would say that there’s a big rub between beef and pork. And I actually, I try to talk as much as I can about how we’re all in this together. And one of my favorite meals is a bacon wrapped filet. So, they got to have them both. So I think what you’re doing is very good, and it’s noble. And I think it’s important to both beef and pork and poultry that we continue to look at proteins in a more healthy way. Again, I think we’ve got the best product. It’s non processed, it’s renewable, it’s sustainable. So kudos.
Neil Dudley: There’s no reason somebody else has to fail for me to succeed or you to succeed. Like hey, the beef guys, yeah, y’all rule, you got all the market share. Yay. Go get them. Keep it up. We got to- I want protein to do well. If you actually think about it, pork is the most globally consumed meat, so ha-ha, got you on that one. Oh, but chickens turn over quicker. Like we all win. We all win. Like it’s just sometimes I think all that supposed animosity or rub is just a bunch of hubbub.
Spencer Lomax: They all taste great with the right rub and the right smoker.
Neil Dudley: That’s right. Fellas, really, really, really appreciate it, super, super great getting to know you better. John, I’m going to have to reach out to you because I got to feel like you know something about writing software. You know something about acquiring companies. All those things are things that I don’t know much about. That makes you just a great part of my network. So super glad y’all came on. Spencer, good seeing you as always. And everybody, come back next time. We’ll talk to somebody else that’s going to help you understand even better about where your food comes from. They probably won’t have a company called Where Your Food Comes From, but they’ll help you understand that better. So thanks for being here, everybody. John, Spencer, have a great one.
John Saunders: Thanks, Neil.
Neil Dudley: Hey, everybody, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. It’s been a blast bringing this to you. And I sure hope you enjoyed it and found value. If you did, tell a friend, share it out on social media, hit that subscribe button, or go check us out at pedersonsfarms.com We sure hope you do. And thanks for being here.
(0:30) – Introducing John Saunders
(1:26) – Where did you come up with the business plan?
(3:22) – Introducing Spencer Lomax.
(6:02) – What is the most important thing about Where Food Comes From?
(8:42) – How do you get paid?
(10:59) – What is the least understood piece of where your food comes from?
(18:57) – How is it working with your wife?
(20:41) – What’s your most recent education or failure or win?
(30:05) – what was the first company you founded?
(36:25) – Question from GUEST: how does a cowboy end up selling bacon?