A Partner Behind the Brand

July 21, 2020

Matt Sherman, general manager of Kern Meat Co., has three degrees: an MA, a Ph.D. and an M.B.D. (married the boss’ daughter). After Sherman received his Ph.D. in American history and entering the job market at a time that was not quite conducive for this field, Sherman’s father-in-law asked if he had an interest in taking over the family business — his father-in-law also has his M.B.D.

The business

Kern Meat Co., which was started by H.A. Kern, has provided St. Louis and Midwest restaurants, hotels, clubs and institutions with high-quality meat products since 1948. Tina and Dennis Markwardt, H.A. Kern’s daughter and her husband, took an active role in the company in 1970 and helped to expand in terms of size and reputation. Sherman says the most cutting-edge business move for the 72-year-old company has been adding Certified Hereford Beef ® to the portfolio in 2008.

“Since Kern Meat Co. focuses on providing the finest quality meat products in the region, working with Certified Hereford Beef was a natural fit for my family’s company,” says Tina. “Our partnership with CHB also brought our family’s history full circle. My father, H.A. Kern, owned a Hereford bull — Wooly Bully — and raised polled Herefords on our family farm. We are proud to manufacture and distribute CHB.”

The business’ operating philosophy is built on five key principles: produce only the highest quality meat products, source products from the best regions and from reputable companies that are committed to humane handling practices, work closely with local farmers and ranchers to showcase Missouri’s rich agricultural heritage, provide outstanding customer service, and treat employees as family members.

Marketplace advantage

“We’ve done cutting after cutting of blind tasting of like products, and CHB outperforms time after time, so it became our flagship program,” Sherman says. “And Kern only pulls from two plants, which helps with quality and consistency, compared with Certified Angus Beef, which has 30 packing houses across North America.”

For Kern Meat Co., genetics matter in the meat industry, which is why the company heartily embraces Certified Hereford Beef. Products made from Certified Hereford Beef are consistent and provide a quality, well-rounded eating experience.

“The American Angus Association was on the ropes in the ’70s, and they deployed a plan of action to save the breed when they created the first branded beef program, Certified Angus Beef, in 1978. It’s arguably one of the most successful marketing programs of the 20th century, and it’s also a great product,” Sherman says. “However, others followed suit to capitalize on their brand. When I started in the industry, there were 87 branded beef programs in the country, 49 of which were Angus derived. Today, when people hear the term “Angus,” they automatically believe it is a quality product. It is the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) job to make sure that the meat qualifies for a respective program and adheres to universal standards: a particular marbling score, a certain ribeye size, etc. Each program carries different genetics and requirements, and we’ve found Certified Hereford Beef outperforms other brands in the marketplace.”

Over the years, Sherman believes a major factor in providing the best available product starts with building a lasting relationship with partners — packers and producers.

“On behalf of the employees and family of Kern Meat Co., I wanted to thank the Hereford producers for tirelessly providing such a consistent product that outperforms other brands” Sherman says. “Our partnership with the farmers and ranchers of CHB has successfully positioned us with a unique product in the marketplace.”