From Army Ranger to founding KC Cattle Co., an exclusive interview with Patrick Montgomery
As the founder of KC Cattle Company, a purveyor of premium quality Wagyu beef, former Army Ranger Patrick Montgomery’s new mission is great food for a good cause. The company provides consumers with delicious, non GMO beef, employs only veterans and also donates to several veteran support foundations. The company has just been honored with 2nd place out of 8,300 entries in the Fed Ex Small Business Grant Contest and was also named Fed Ex’s Veteran-Owned Business of the Year. After serving in Afghanistan, where he lost his brother-in-law Jeremy, also an Army Ranger, Montgomery wanted to do something to get himself back on track, honor Jeremy’s memory and help other veterans find their peace.
So he finished his degree in animal science, bought the ranch and began raising cattle. Today, KC Cattle has a thriving online business that ships to consumers in the lower 48 states, and also supplies prime cuts of Wagyu beef to restaurants and pitmasters for elite barbecue competitions. When the company’s Wagyu hot dogs were deemed the best by the editors of Food & Wine in a taste-off in 2019 the business really took off. Since then, KC Cattle has expanded to offer the widest variety of Wagyu cuts and novelty items of any company in this increasingly popular category. Montgomery credits a lot of this success to lessons he learned in the military and he says his experience has made him a better leader in civilian life.
WATM: How did you decide to pursue this complex albeit delicious career choice?
So, basically I exited the military in 2014 to pursue a career path to become a large animal veterinarian, well basically a large animal vet. And kind of during that time doing my undergrad in animal science, I was doing a minor in entrepreneurship and I discovered this passion for business that I didn’t know I had. I didn’t come from that background so I kind of had this unique perspective during this age-centric major and I kind of just noticed this disconnect between agriculture and the people that actually consumed the food that those folks in agriculture produce. I saw the opportunity for a business essentially and the kind of premise for that business was bridging the gap between those two communities and providing the pallet or a product with a palatable difference.
WATM: What makes Wagyu beef products taste better than your competition?
There are three factors that go into raising quality beef, for any beef. Genetics, your feeding regimens, and the environment that the cattle are raised in. The genetics and feeding regimes for Wagyu is amplified tenfold because essentially there are two mutations that you’re selecting on Wagyu cattle that allow for all of that intermuscular fat. That’s huge for both ourselves and our cattle producers we work with and we’ve done a really good job on our genetics that we use for our meat The feeding regime is also a huge because your average cattle brings your harvest in around 18 months, for Wagyu you do what’s called slow feeding, a smaller-framed cow takes a lot longer to pack on all of those pounds and so you’re harvesting them in 26 months, and that’s a big reason why it’s so much more money than other types of beef. That’s specifically something we believe in, its that the environment aspect of keeping those core levels low and a low-stress environment for the cattle really equates to good beef. So, that’s probably a big distinguishing factor, kind of more so on the lines of our website. We have hands down the biggest selection of wagyu cuts that you can find on the interwebs because of the fact that we just don't buy boxed beef.
WATM: Congratulations on winning Fed Ex's Veteran-Owned Business of the Year. Could you tell us a little bit more on how you led your team to victory?
Yeah, so basically they opened up an application for their small business grant in February, and we applied, we went through an interview process, we submitted a couple of videos, we told our story and we came out in second place for the grant, and then we got first place for the veteran-owned business of the year. The things they saw that made us special was the philanthropic size of the company. Not only the giving back to the veterans that work here but also the community around us and also nationwide.
WATM: It says on your website that you hire veterans, what do you look for in a candidate?
Probably the biggest thing is the work-ethic side; we love the veterans that get out are still hungry to do something cool in the civilian world. Whether that includes a long-term career here at a KC Cattle Company or that this is kind of the stepping stone to something bigger. We love being a part of that and really seeking out individuals that are motivated to do something cool in the civilian world just like they did in the military. So, kind of that team cohesion and that work ethic are really the two main factors that we look for.
WATM: Is there anything you would like to say to the military audience?
Yeah, I’d say that the transition from the military to civilian life can be pretty tough. Kind of plan on that, and remember the fact that you have a lot to offer this country, even after you exit service. There’s a lot of things that you can do in the civilian world to kind of prove yourself and build upon your military service.
WATM: What’s next for you and KC Cattle Co.?
We’re headed full steam into the holiday here so that’s kind of our big next step here. It’s always a busy season essentially from now until the end of the year, so always keep us in mind for those holiday gifts, and then we’re also working on building a new fulfillment center and retail space here in Kansas City, so, if you’re stopping in Kansas city make sure to come and take a tour!
WATM: Bonus question, what is your favorite product that you currently have on your line?
The Vet Steak, also called the sirloin flat meat, cooks up great by itself and makes some mean street tacos!