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Brawley beef success or failure rests with Greg Beck

October 29, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The rush to complete the beef-processing plant in Brawley is on and Greg Beck is in the thick of it.

He has to be.

As president and chief operating officer of Brawley Beef LLC, the company that is building and will operate the plant, the success or failure of the project rests with him.

During a recent interview after one more in a string of 12-hour days, Beck said he relishes the challenge associated with the project and he is confident it will succeed.

"It's truly a labor of love," Beck said. "You always know there is a challenge in front of you and every day is filled with rewards."

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But, he said, some days there are setbacks and the key is to turn them around so the end goal of opening the plant Dec. 3 can be met.

Not that the opening of the plant is an end goal. In fact, the day it opens is just a starting point and there will be many challenges along the way toward making the plant a success, Beck pointed out.

"The finish line is forever moving forward," Beck said.

Brawley Beef has a 25-year business plan, which Beck said means the company is in it for the long haul.

And, Beck said, he is too.

The son and grandson of cattlemen, Beck is continuing in a family tradition, adding he plans to bring his career to an end with Brawley Beef.

Beck said he understands the weight of responsibility tied to the project. There is a lot at stake, including the $60 million invested in the project by the owners of Brawley Beef.

"They've invested a lot of money into the future, and it is my responsibility to assure those promises are assured," he said. "I made a promise a long time ago that this would be the best plant in America and I have held to that conviction."

Part of that promise, Beck said, is to the 600 people who will have full-time jobs at the beef plant.

He said it's important his employees have lasting jobs so they can support their families and be able to plan for the future.

"It is our responsibility to assure we stay in business to allow them (those who work at the beef plant) to keep their promises," Beck said.

When asked what experience he has that will enable him to lead Brawley Beef, Beck said he has 31 years of "hands on knowledge incorporated with people skills."

His career includes working 24 years for the two largest beef plants in the nation.

Both plants were part of the Iowa Beef Processing conglomeration. In those 24 years he was plant manager for the largest plant, and operations manager for the second largest plant.

Beck, who was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1949, said he knew some of the owners who would become the principles in Brawley Beef and they asked if he was interested in taking the reigns of the company.

"They asked me to join them, and it was an offer you could not refuse," Beck said.

As president of the company, Beck said he plans to lead as a coach, setting up a positive environment for the employees so they can be recognize as individuals but work as a team.

He said if the company accomplishes what he thinks it can, Brawley Beef "will not concern itself with challenging other companies. We will challenge ourselves. Our challenge is to be the best."

He added, "We do not measure ourselves in comparison with others. We will have the best customer service, with the best product at the best price."

While Beck is confident the plant will succeed, he did say the future is not filled with guarantees and there could be tough times ahead.

"If you manage your resources and if you are focus-minded, you will get through the tough times," Beck said.

He added one point that will aid the plant is the support it has received from the community.

"I want to thank the community for being helpful in our coming here," said Beck, who will permanently move to the Imperial Valley from Glendale, Ariz., with his wife, Julie, and youngest son, Jason, 14. They have an older son, Justin, 19, who is attending college.

Beck added, "It's really encouraging when a whole community is behind you."

Staff Writer Darken Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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