Will Sanders poses for a portrait alongside the food truck of Starkville meat wholesaler Welcome Home Beef on Sept. 7 in Starkville. Sanders, along with his siblings Scott and Leslie and their mother Linda, started the business in February, successfully selling beef and other meat products directly to customers as well as to grocery stores. Photo by: Antranik Tavitian/Dispatch Staff
September 14, 2020 10:01:19 AM
The Sanders family has always been "in the cow business," as Will Sanders puts it.
Will, along with his older brother Scott, his sister Leslie and his mother Linda, wished to continue the legacy of his late father David, who started working with cattle 40 years ago.
That's why in February, the Sanders family opened Welcome Home Beef, a meat wholesaler, in Starkville.
"We actually started selling in August before the store opened in February," Will said. "We just kind of rolled it out to friends and let them try it, and the feedback was fantastic. That's kind of how it was born."
Partnered with local cattle farmers in the South that spans across seven states and a family-owned farm in Glenville, Nebraska, Welcome Home Beef sells a variety of meats at its location at 329 University Drive.
"My brother wanted to continue the business and he knew the most about the cattle," said Will, who is a co-owner of the business and has lived in Starkville his entire life. "He and my dad had always talked about doing something like this, they just never could put it all together. He was out in Nebraska and he had tasted some Mississippi-fed cattle. He found out the meat was really delicious. We always knew our stuff graded really well as far as choice, prime, so we decided to kill some of them and the meat turned out delicious."
Will and Leslie operate the sales portion of the business, while Scott handles the buying and selling of cattle.
"My mom is the one who really put the money behind it and really believed in her kids," Will said. "She definitely supports us. My brother manages all the cattle and the supply chains. (Leslie and I) are more of the salespeople. We recently got into a grocery store in Collinsville, Mississippi. She's managing a lot of that right now, managing the wholesale accounts, and I'm right here managing the store."
Welcome Home Beef also sells food from a food truck, which is open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m., though Will said the days of sale could expand if more cooks can be hired in the next few weeks. The truck offers burgers, cheese steaks and street tacos for lunch and dinner and ribeyes and New York strips for dinner only.
"Our pork comes from Mississippi State, most of the meat in this store is from our cattle and our seafood is bought from Horseshoe Farms," Will said. "We supplement our ribeyes with 44 Farms. A lot of people don't know this about cattle, but when you kill an animal, you only get 20 ribeyes and 70 filets off of that heifer. You can imagine ribeyes are the most popular item, so we supplement our ribeyes with (meat from Texas-based beef producer) 44 Farms"
Will said the family hoped to open the food truck sooner, but the pandemic made that difficult. Surprisingly, he said, that's about the only difficulty the business has had despite opening a month before most businesses were ordered to cease operations. Meat sales went up after Welcome Home Beef offered curbside pickup and made deliveries.
"Honestly it benefited us with the meat shortage and people cooking more at home," Will said. "We managed it well. We did everything we could to take precautions. For the most part, we were able to stay open. God kind of blessed us in that way. I think it probably helped business a little bit."
The Sanders family is also thinking about growing its business.
"I think the pandemic has changed a lot of things. We're definitely going to get on DoorDash and promote delivery," Will said. "I think that's going to be here to stay. We're definitely going to try and get into more grocery stores."
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