Bob and Dave Satterwhite's family business began in a garage and hasn't stopped growing
September 17, 2006
In the business world there’s an understanding that it’s bad to go into business with a friend. Bob and Dave Satterwhite have disproved that theory.
At least, that’s what it appears like at their new Brothers Custom Processing warehouse and office in Craig. Orders were being placed, coolers of processed meat were being weighed, and going somewhere for lunch is not an option.
“I haven’t even had time to go to eat my lunch,” Bob said, as Dave scarfed down some McDonald’s fries during the interview. “We’ve got a lot of stuff going on back there (referring to the processing part of the building).”
Less than two years ago, Brother’s Custom Processing was run from Dave’s garage. Today, Dave’s best chance to eat lunch was during a newspaper interview.
“I would have never imagined we would grow into this,” Dave said. “I’m still in awe every day what it has become.”
Building a partnership
The brothers, who grew up on a farm in Pomeroy, Iowa, with four other siblings, came to Craig eight years apart. Dave came out right after high school in 1982. His sister and brother-in-law lived in Craig so he packed up and came out with them. He took a job with Mountain Meats.
Bob followed with his wife Peggy and three sons, Robbie, Mike and Josh, in 1990.
“I came out a couple of times to hunt and I liked it,” Bob said. “I moved a lot with my job in Iowa so I thought I’d see what we could do in Craig.”
He took a job at Safeway in the meat department.
At that time, they both had day jobs processing meat.
That’s when a business started to develop.
During the hunting season, they would process their own animals in Dave’s garage.
Then they started to do it for friends.
“We realized we could make some money by cutting for others in the evening,” Dave said.
They started to open up Dave’s garage to people’s hunting harvest more often.
“We never advertised at all,” Dave said. “People sought us out.”
The practice turned into Brothers Custom Processing in 2000.
For five years, they ran their business from Dave’s garage on acreage west of Craig.
Last year, they purchased a building north of First Street and began a full-time effort.
Dave was in Craig for 17 years before Brothers started.
“I don’t know any better,” he joked about why he stayed. “Really, my family is here and it was easy to call home.”
He met his wife, Sharla, at Mountain Meats.
“We called it Matrimonial Meats because three guys there found their wives there in the same year,” he said.
They had three children, Crystal, Angie and Jake. In 2002, Jake was killed in a car accident.
Bob quickly knew Craig was the end of his traveling from town to town.
“When we moved here I instantly had 100 friends,” he said.
Away from the business, Bob is active in youth sports.
Josh is a junior at Moffat County High School and Bob, who coached his sons in baseball growing up, and Peggy follow his activities.
“I love anything involving kids in sports,” Bob said. “It’s a passion of mine.”
Dave jokes that he is too busy to do anything in his spare time.
“The joke is that I hate fun,” he said. “I like to travel somewhere once a year.”
After thinking for a while, he came up with another activity he enjoys.
“I really like the cooking part of all of this,” he said. “Smoking the meat is something I enjoy.”
By moving from the garage out of town into a building in Craig, the brothers knew they would be taking on the business on a full-time basis.
The business continues to expand to fill that full-time need. They offer catering and have started making products for retail sales.
“Ever since we started we’ve seen growth,” Dave said.
Now, Dave does most of the office work and Bob does the cutting. Bob still puts on an apron to do the butchering because, “it’s hard to train a butcher and Dave knows it well,” Bob said.
For the hunting season, the business has 16 employees and “yes we still have openings,” Dave said.
Once things slow down after the hunting season, Bob said repairing and replacing equipment is a priority.
“One of the biggest challenges of expanding is making sure everything works properly,” Bob said. “During the hunting season, there is a lot of wear and tear on the equipment.” What it hasn’t been is a wear and tear on their family.
“We’ve become closer by doing this together,” Bob said. “We hope it’s something we’ll have for a while.”