Unless you’re building an ark, little good can come from 45 inches of rain in 20 days. That’s what happened when Hurricane Floyd hit Snow Hill, N.C., in fall 1999. For cattleman Steve Harrison, the results were life-changing. As the flood waters rose, half of the family’s cow herd—the one he’d returned to the farm to manage—was lost. In the aftermath, Harrison headed west.
At the same time, more than 2,000 miles away from that coastal farming community, Frank and Belinda VanderSloot and crew at Riverbend Ranch prepared for their first cattle sale in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Although he grew up hand-milking a cow to help provide for the family, VanderSloot was a businessman who was just getting into the registered cattle business. Today Riverbend Ranch is one of the largest Angus operations in the country.
Steve Harrison was in the stands at that first VanderSloot sale, but it took another eight years before the he hired on with Riverbend. Today, 17 full-time employees care for 5,500 head of cattle on ranches spread across seven locations from California, Utah and Texas to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
VanderSloot says he didn’t choose the breed. “That was a decision made by the people. That’s where the demand is. People want what Angus brings to the table,” he says. “That’s a tribute to the people who have been running the Angus breed for the last century.”
Hearing customer success stories is what makes it worth it for the crew, Harrison says. “When that animal leaves our ranch, it’s representing us, each and every one of us,” he says. “If you get stagnant here, it’s probably your own fault. There are a lot of other great benefits to the job — the scenery, the family life, everything else — but seeing improvement in the cattle is what really gets me going.”
For more information about Certified Angus Beef ® brand partner farms and ranches, visit CertifiedAngusBeef.com.