Chris, James and Jenna discuss how Porter Road is radically improving the meat industry by controlling the entire supply chain, setting and upholding strict quality standards, and revitalizing the sense of community of your local butcher shop.
We chat about how to respond when life throws you curveballs, the importance of waking up every day with the intention of challenging yourself and striving to improve the world, and our duty to inspire and uplift each other doing so.
Throughout our chat, we walk (and laugh) through many of the wild experiences Chris and James have shared, from a friendship that began being chased by a wild pig to hitting 70 MPH in an old Bob Evans truck as they watched their tire roll past them, and much more.
Highlights From The Transcript
- On setting new standards: “Porter Road is so unique because there are only three people involved in the system: Us, the farmer, and you. That’s almost unheard of in the mass meat industry today. We wanted to control the whole supply chain in order to give the highest quality to our customers…We have always been a whole animal butcher. We own a slaughterhouse because it is the right thing to do. Getting in there was like pulling back the curtain, seeing the puppet show and the whole truth. It was exactly what we were looking for in acquiring that facility: One more level of transparency into Porter Road and information that we can provide to our customers. It was everything that we needed it to be. You have to be prepared to see some stuff that you don’t want to see when you are making those kinds of moves. James and I consider ourselves a liaison to the farms for our customers. We go out there to protect the truth and make sure that farmers are upholding our strict standards. We nourish ourselves and our families with these foods and we want to make sure it is the best possible. We consider our employees and our customers an extension of our family.”
- On guarding your values: “We have only gotten stricter with our standards as we continue to grow. We’re grateful to have a bigger and louder voice in the industry now because it gives us the opportunity to change it for the better. What has been true about Porter Road from the first day, and what will be true as long as we are in control, is that we stand for quality and we want to make sure that everybody we work with – from the people who raise the animals to the ones who process, pack, and ship them – is committed to making sure the customer is satisfied and that the world is changed into a better place.”
- On catching curveballs: “We really like to explain that business is not a straight path. Owning and controlling every single detour, pothole, and bump that you encounter along the way is what makes you successful. You can’t fix the path. You are going to constantly have curveballs being thrown at you. Nothing is going to go according to plan. When it doesn’t…Stop. Be capable of communicating with the people who are going to help you get out of it. Then, make sure that your new path is very clear. It is never, ever going to be easy. Nothing in life will be if it’s worth it. You just have to be able own it, communicate, and move forward.”
- On grit: “What really got us here is sticking to our guns and never straying from our path for any reason. We’ve done just about every job you can imagine to make sure it gets done. We did anything that we could to make ends meet. Nothing has changed in that regard.”
- On communication as your foundation: “It sounds so easy to say: ‘Just tell me when you need something.’ But, it’s actually not. Communication takes a lot of work. The ability to communicate your wants, needs, fears and concerns is the key to everything in life.”
- On challenging yourself every day: “We challenge each other every day. That’s what makes us great partners in life and business. Every day we try to push each other because every day we wake up with a desire to be the best. It’s not about us personally being the best — It’s about the team, the family, and it’s truly about Porter Road. It’s about everybody that has a stake in this – a customer, a fan, everybody who is out there trying to do something that makes the world better. Waking up and challenging yourself is what makes life worth living. We could have easily been complacent and stayed with the two of us in the shop. But, for the last decade we have pushed each other and that is why we are sitting here in our office in Brooklyn while 40 other employees are working across the country and knocking it out.”
- On kindness and community: “There are so many people who walked into the shop on their first day in Nashville and said ‘I don’t know anybody.’ We accepted them lovingly with open arms and a decade later they are all our really good friends. The idea of the actual brick and mortar butcher shop was to be a community gathering place. As we continue to grow the website, we want to create that same feeling and atmosphere of togetherness. Everyone is here for a delicious cut of meat but we are also here because we feel that we can make a difference. When you sit back in the shop it’s very special to see customers start to take over the sales role, telling each other about what they have tried, how they cooked it and something new they learned. We are seeing those same things happening on social media channels now. Our community and the kindness that flows through it is what motivate us to wake up every day and get better.”