The roots of KC Cattle Company are shallow, but owner Patrick Montgomery has already battled several obstacles. From severe drought in 2018 to fighting off relentless rains this year, the 3-year-old business is no stranger to challenges.
“Last year, dealing with the drought, that was painful,” said Montgomery. “As, as a lot of farmers in this area will attest, paying $100 for a bale of hay, it's tough to make pencil.”
For Patrick Montgomery, the challenges fuel his fire, making every victory that much sweeter.
“Honestly, there wasn't anybody doing this in Kansas City yet,” he said.
Montgomery decided to dive into raising Wagyu beef in 2018. He made his first sale two years later.
“About 95% of our revenue is done through our website, and that is almost entirely to individuals,” he said.
While sales are strong, his focus this year is production.
“2019 is really kind of being defined for us is figuring out how do we scale, and how do we do that responsibly, still maintaining the quality that we've provided to our consumers since the beginning, and then figuring out how do we keep growing that and, and really start kind of turning some dollars to be able to make this operation pencil,” he said.
The “idea” of the KC Cattle Company grew from an untraditional seed.
“I grew up 30 minutes from here,” he said, standing in Weston, Mo. “My family, they weren't agriculture business, and about the most exposure I had to it in high school was getting paid $8 an hour to buck hay bales.”
After graduating high school, Montgomery got a taste for college, and decided that wasn’t the path for him. So, he went a different rote, opting to enlist in the military.
“I kind of decided that my true calling was pursuing a path to become an Army Ranger, and I decided college could wait,” said Montgomery.
The next four years shaped his future, while creating a past he’ll never forget.
“My first deployment in Ranger Regiment, my brother-in-law was killed in action in Afghanistan, and I was tasked with bringing him back to my sister, which is, you know, probably be the greatest honor I have until I die,” Montgomery said.
That honor—and that tragedy—led him on a deep, dark path for more than a year, as he struggled with the loss of such a dear friend.
“I'm fortunate for even the tough parts, because it made me the man I am today,” said Montgomery. “I think about things, if they would have changed just a little bit, I wouldn't be standing here in front of you. So, even those dark parts I'm thankful for. And, you know, although I miss him every day, his legacy is as built into KC Cattle Company.”
When it came time to re-enlist, Montgomery knew he needed to change focus, deciding to pursue a degree in animal science, with hopes of one day becoming a veterinarian.
“Once I got out, I got into the animal science program at Mizzou, and, and I really enjoyed that, but I did figure out that that the vet medicine wasn't something I wanted to pursue.”
That experience birthed another idea.
“I kind of fell in love with business while I was there, and KC Cattle Company is kind of the brain baby of those two passions.”
The idea to raise and sell high grade, higher priced beef in the Kansas City area laid the foundation for KC Cattle Company.
“Obviously, that's what played into my business plan,” said Montgomery. “When I was actually getting started, I read an article in an agricultural magazine, and it was talking about how beef prices or beef sales and grocery stores was declining for everything except for prime cuts.”
The idea, at times, looked easier on paper.
“I might have a degree in animal science, but, you know, there's a lot more that you learn just being out in the field and making some mistakes.”
Through determination, his ‘brain baby’ became a reality, then leading him to venture down another path.
“It was kind of by accident, there is no part of my business or marketing plan that included being a 100%, veteran owned and veteran operated cattle ranch,” said Montgomery.
The operation now only employs veterans, giving those who served an opportunity for a smoother transition out of the military.
“It's pretty cool to see the change in some of the guys that come out here and are transitioning from the military lifestyle to civilian life,” he said.
A fresh start, surrounded by a peaceful setting, while being surrounded by others who share a similar story, is what Montgomery says is the perfect formula to help restore veterans’ mental state of mind.
“Bringing guys together that have a combination of the same type of experiences is therapeutic in its own way, so that combo with a little hard physical labor is kind of the secret sauce,” said Montgomery.
The ‘secret sauce’ is working for Zeph Martinez, who served from 2010-2015 as an U.S. Army 19 Delta Calvary Scout and is now employed full-time with KC Cattle Company.
"Oh, I love it -- I can't see myself doing anything else,” he said. "The comradely aspect is definitely a huge factor; that's definitely the thing I like the most about it.”
Martinez has worked at KC Cattle Company since August of 2018 and met Montgomery through “War Horses for Veterans.”
"I’ve tried a lot of other jobs since being out and a lot of them weren't hitting the mark,” said Martinez. “It's awesome; you can't beat it."
Some are employed full-time, while others volunteer turning their passion into gratitude.
“I’m writing a note to this customer, her first name is Tiffany,” said Martinez. “Every order will usually get a personal note.”
Customers’ continued support helps fuel the business, turning a simple plan into a business Montgomery never imagined.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, I was looking at my original marketing plan, and just the business plan for KC Cattle Company, and I was like, ‘man, this is what I'm doing now, and it doesn't look anything like what I wrote down on paper a couple years ago,’” said Montgomery. “It was kind of cool to see, you know, the interactions that God’s had in my own life to kind of turn KC Cattle Company into what it is now.”
Montgomery said KC Cattle Company strives to do well by doing good for others, a Memorial Day message he wants other veterans to hear.
“Especially Memorial Day, I think something a lot of us struggle with is the buddies we no longer have here,” said Montgomery. “I think it's just really important to remember that if those guys were here, they would tell you that they don't want you to be self-destructive, they want you to go find that next path in life that's going to make you feel fulfilled.”
Finding a new way to be fulfilled, down an unfamiliar road, while carrying his brother-in-law’s legacy with him on every step.