Rohr focuses on whole meat supply chain with Honeytown Meats

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A man looks over cuts of meat in a store.
Logan Rohr looks over some of the cuts of meat from his farm, Honeytown Ranch, at 3-D Meats, the processing facility and store the Rohr family recently bought, in Dalton, Ohio, June 24. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

DALTON, Ohio — Logan Rohr, a third generation farmer in Wooster, Ohio, has been raising beef cattle since the early 2000s, when his family switched over from dairy farming. For many years, much of the meat they raised was going to major packers. But, in 2019, he started thinking about ways to make his farm’s meat more accessible, and keep some of it closer to home.

He wanted to cut out the middlemen and sell directly to customers. So, he founded Honeytown Meats, an online sales platform offering meat by the cut and in subscription boxes, delivered directly to customers. Though that model allows him to sell locally, since Honeytown Meats launched about a year and a half ago, the business has also shipped boxes as far as Texas.

It’s also already expanding. The Rohr family recently bought 3-D Meats, a processor and retail store in Dalton. Now, they’ve got the whole supply chain pretty much covered — from raising the livestock to sending the meat home with customers.

“It’s extremely enjoyable raising animals, bringing them here to harvest them and literally watching them go out the front door,” Rohr said.

Model

When he started thinking about adding online sales, Rohr brought the idea to Kelly Hess, now the director of operations and marketing for Honeytown Meats. He knew her family from the cattle world and knew that she was the right person for that job.

As they looked into it more, they saw other companies offering subscription boxes and decided to try out that model.

“It just made sense to do subscriptions,” said Hess.

There are plenty of smaller households that are interested in local or fresh meat, but not all of them have a freezer large enough to hold half or a quarter of an animal. This way, families can get in on a local farmer’s products without buying that much all at once, she explained.

Much of the cattle and goat meat comes from Rohr’s family farm, Honeytown Ranch, but he also has contracts with other local farmers in Wayne County and neighboring counties to supply some of the meat, including all of the chicken and pork. They still send some of their meat to packers, but the direct sales are a big part of their business, now.

“It helps bring everybody together, and the goal is … sustainability,” Rohr said.

Two men stand next to a sign for 3-D Meats.
Logan and Luke Rohr stand outside 3-D Meats, in Dalton, Ohio, June 24. The Rohr family bought 3-D Meats, a processing facility and retail store, this year to complement their work with their online store, Honeytown Meats. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

Sustainability

For Rohr, sustainability is about not being reliant on the larger food systems.

“There’s four big packers that control 80-some percent of the meat world, right now,” Rohr said.

Last year was a reality check for a lot of people. Shut downs and slow downs at major processors meant a lot of farmers couldn’t get their livestock processed. Local processors were slammed with orders. In some places, people worried about temporary meat shortages.

While the world is unlikely to ever really run out of meat, Rohr said, getting meat from the farm to the customer can be challenging at times like that. But now, he has the whole process covered.

“We’re not going to run out of meat here,” he said.

Transition

Even before purchasing 3-D Meats, Rohr used it for his processing. The company does custom processing and has a retail store. When the previous owners, Leon and Jan Hilty, who started the business in 2014, were ready to look towards retirement, it was natural for Rohr to take over.

“The opportunity came up,” Rohr said. “I have a lot of interest in it. It fits with the farming side of it, with the livestock production.”

They officially transferred it June 1, and the Hiltys have been helping as Rohr and his brother, Luke, get used to running it. They’ve been learning both from the Hiltys, and from meat cutters and other employees who have been there for years.

“We’re not changing the way they’ve done things here since 2014,” Hess said. “The biggest thing is the learning curve.”

Though Honeytown Meats and 3-D Meats are technically separate businesses, they are both owned by the Rohrs and offer many of the same products.  So now, when local customers for Honeytown Meats ask if they can pick up their order instead of having it delivered, they can direct them to the retail store in Dalton.

Two men look over cuts of beef in a store.
Logan and Luke Rohr, owners of 3-D Meats and Honeytown Meats, look over cuts of beef at 3-D Meats, in Dalton, Ohio, June 24. The Rohrs’ family farm supplies beef and goat meat for both of the businesses they own, and contracts with other local farmers for chicken and pork. (Sarah Donaldson photo)

Future

Down the road, Rohr’s main goal is to keep building on what they’ve already done.

“My heart and passion is in livestock production,” he explained.

Hess and Rohr also believe buying local gives people an opportunity to be more in touch with where their food comes from — something many seem to be interested in right now. Even as the world regains more normalcy, Rohr thinks the last year has gotten some people to change their patterns. It brought new customers to 3-D Meats, and many of them have stuck around.

“The disruption of the entire supply chain kind of really gave people a wake up call,” Hess said. “When they realized that they can get it locally, cheaper and you’re not going to run out, that’s a big deal.”

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Reporter Sarah Donaldson is a former 4-Her and a Mount Union graduate from Columbiana County, Ohio. She enjoys playing and writing music, cooking, and storytelling in many forms. She can be reached at 800-837-3419 or sarah@farmanddairy.com.

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