Hard work and a good handshake are some of the keys to Jeff Biegert’s success. A life driven by entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to leave the world a better place makes Jeff Biegert an excellent candidate of honor for the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.
“It’s amazing, in this business, how much money is exchanged with just a handshake,” Biegert says. “I’m proud to be part of this industry. I’m proud of its people, its progress and its work ethic.”
Biegert began his journey in Shickley, Neb., where life was simple and well rounded. One of 19 seniors to graduate high school in 1970, Biegert experienced everything the school had to offer. “It was the kind of place where you played football, basketball, ran track, played in the band and acted in the class play,” he says. He also learned the value of hard work in the family’s small cattle feeding operation.
Biegert made plans to attend the University of Nebraska in nearby Lincoln, but then had second thoughts. “I knew I would be home working every weekend, and there was a good chance some weekend, I wouldn’t go back to school.”
So he took his cousin up on an invitation to join her at Texas Christian University, where she had told him, “The business school is good, the weather is warm, and the girls outnumber the boys three to one.”
He packed up his car and headed to Texas determined to spread his wings. In 1974 he graduated with his business degree.
The next few years were spent conducting feasibility studies and managing construction for a string of childcare centers in the Houston area. When the company sold in 1976, he returned to the family cattle feeding operation and small fertilizer plant in Nebraska to regroup.
It wasn’t long before a friend in came to him with a problem. As the owner of a large custom feedlot, he was tired of mixing and feeding dry feed. Biegert looked to the fertilizer plant, and the similarity of ingredients to cattle rations. He developed a way to suspend feed supplements, like limestone salt and potassium, in liquid. That idea grew into Midwest PMS, a liquid feed manufacturing business that now boasts 10 plants across the Midwest, with more than 150 employees.
“The cattle feeding business has become extremely technical these days, with trace minerals measured in the parts per million,” Biegert says.
“Our product is designed to balance out the ration and give cattle exactly what they need to enhance performance. It’s based on scientific data, so feeders can do more with less for a profitable outcome.”
Performance is money and today’s economics stress that. “There’s a picture of me when I was 3 years old sitting on a heifer,” he says. “When that picture was taken, in 1955, fat cattle were 17¢ a pound and relatively stable. It’s a vastly different business today, yet we continue to adjust to where the market takes us.”
Biegert offers advice to younger producers, telling them to “keep your money around you because you’re going to need it.” He says it is wise to “have a good banker and use restraint and common sense.” He admits he has made mistakes, but learned from them. “Anybody in this business has been broke once or twice. That’s a paddle that has everyone’s name on it.”
He offers one more valuable piece of advice: “Never give up. You’re never done until you quit.” Biegert says there have been many times in his life and career when he followed the simple mantra: “Keep your head down and get to work.”
In addition to Midwest PMS, Biegert maintains ownership in Fort Kearney Feeders and North Platte Feeders, with a combined capacity of 140,000 head, and is a founding partner in Power Genetics.
Despite servicing most of the feeding belt, making friends along the way, Biegert remains a quiet, humble, private person, who prefers to work mostly behind the scenes. He and his wife, Sally, have raised three daughters. Middle daughter Natasha Harris has now joined the company.
“Working with my dad has been an exceptional opportunity—getting to see his fight and passion on a daily basis,” Harris says. “He lives the notion you can’t work too hard.” Aside from the work ethic, and the perseverance through tough times, she learned about authenticity and integrity. “As kids we learned you can trust people.”
Biegert says his goal in life is to leave the world better than he found it, and that extends well beyond his family and the beef industry he loves.
He and Sally are active benefactors of the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie, Wy., where troubled kids find a healing environment and a fresh start. Both have served as board members, relishing the opportunity to help young people change their situation. The Biegerts sponsor the annual banquet, often attended by alumni who share their stories of success. “It chokes us up more times than not,” Biegert says. “Our youth are the future of our country, of our world. We need to take care of them and start them out right.”
Biegert also lends his expertise to an entrepreneurial competition he pioneered at Texas Christian. The contest helps young people refine their ideas and introduces them to financing sources. Contest criteria require contestants’ business plans give back to the community.
Biegert begins each day with gratitude, determined to make a difference. He and Sally also donate to cancer research as Jeff faces his own battle with the disease.
He seizes every learning opportunity and has been known to hold impromptu “classes” for the neighborhood kids, teaching them the value of looking a person in the eye and executing a proper handshake.
“I get up every day and figure out how to feed cattle and help our customers grow,” Biegert says. “If the little guy grows, we all grow.” He still sees himself as one of those little guys, taking his satisfaction from knowing he is able to make a positive impact on other people’s lives. And he’s proud to be a person who still does business with a handshake.
Read more about the 2017 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame winners:
Eulogio "Lohill" Dimas