Rod Kuegel said he considers Spurrier a “good friend” and it became an ideal opportunity for them both. Instead of rebuilding, Spurrier sold the business to the Kuegels who took on the remodeling effort and revived it 14 months later. “When Wes started this plant, I sold him 4 acres off our cattle farm to build it,” Rod Kuegel said. “And I didn’t want somebody I didn’t know for a neighbor that may have problems.”
That decision was made easier by purchasing the McLean County meat processing business just west of Beech Grove off Kentucky 56 from Wesley Spurrier in late 2020. The Kuegels are generational Daviess County row crop farmers. They also grew tobacco but decided after 70 years to give it up. The family harvested its final tobacco crop last year.
In February of the same year, a fire severely damaged the meat processing facility. “As far as actually cutting up (the beef), YouTube,” said Clay Kuegel about where he learned to butcher and process beef and pork. “We watched ‘Bearded Butchers’ and it taught us everything we needed to know.”
And on Tuesday, they were churning out everything from ground beef to ribeye steaks. Clay Kuegel, who also speaks Spanish, has known some of the workers all of his life and is there translating and guiding them throughout the day. To ensure the H-2A Hispanic workers who helped in the Kuegels’ tobacco fields didn’t lose their incomes, they now make up the butchering and processing crew. At least three of the six employees have butchering experience.
“Wes decided he wanted to do something else and I wanted to quit tobacco because we weren’t making money at it,” Rod Kuegel said. “So a lot of things caused this to happen.” The Kuegels have combined the meat processing with their Kuegel Cattle Co., which has allowed them to transition out of growing tobacco and move into a different venture where they saw a demand.
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