The son of a butcher and the grandson of two butchers, Wyoming native Kelcey Christensen is nearly ready to open his new 307 Meat Company south of Laramie. The business will function as a packing plant for ranchers and its own retail shop.
“The passion for starting this was really seeing a lot of ranchers around the state of Wyoming try to capitalize on some increased profit margin on their cattle by direct marketing to consumers,” Christensen said.
The plant will be an opportunity for ranchers to sell more of their meat to consumers directly, rather than to feedlots to eventually be packed by large packing companies.
“They can sell their story, they sell their story of the ranch, and it’s just not the beef that shows up in the grocery store now, there’s a connection to somebody,” Christensen said.
While the plant will serve ranchers, it will also serve a growing niche of people who want to know where their food comes from.
“I wanna bring sustainable Wyoming meat products to Wyoming consumers,” Christensen said.
Other than 307 Meat products, the retail shop will include wild caught, sustainable seafood. Christensen made a partnership with a seafood company that buys from small fisherman on almost any coastline around the United States.
“It’s all overnighted to us, 2-3 days max usually since it was in the water, it’s here and in our case,” he said.
When Christensen first brought the business plan before the city’s Planning Commission, some commission members had concerns about odor from manure or meat processing.
During the meeting, many were surprised to find out there is already a similar operation in the center of Laramie, the UW Meat Lab, where Christensen was the manager for 11 years.
“If you clean it, and you provide a sanitary facility, it shouldn’t smell, so, it should smell just like a kitchen” Christensen told the Boomerang last week.
In order to be hooked up to the city’s water and wastewater treatment services, Christensen wanted to have the plant within city limits.
He and the city Planning Manager Derek Teini worked closely to find the best location in Laramie for a meat processing plant, which they decided is on Cherrywood Loop on the outskirts of town.
“Our land is zoned commercial,” Christensen said. This means the zoning of the land is inconsistent with the use of the plant, that is, slaughtering. Because of this, Christensen sought a conditional use permit.
The city ultimately granted Christensen the permit to operate the plant within city limits in a 6-1 vote during a February 2019 meeting.
“I think for what we’re doing, we’re in probably the best location,” Christensen said.
The plant will create about 12 jobs in Laramie and one new government job.
The plant is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which means there will be a USDA employee working alongside Christensen’s employees 40 hours a week.
Christensen will also include an internship program at 307 Meat Company.
“When I was going to college it was tough to find an internship,” Christensen said. Because of this, he wants to eventually have three interns a year who can learn all components of the business from meat processing to retail.
The plant already has an intern set to start this summer, who will learn what a business start-up looks like in addition to the operation of a meat processing plant.
Christensen plans to begin the production side of the facility early this month and open the retail shop in the third week of March.
After nearly four years of hard work, Christensen said he is excited to bring wholesome and sustainable meat and seafood to Wyoming consumers.