The portrait of Louis M. “Mick” Colvin has entered the hallowed halls of the Saddle & Sirloin Gallery in Louisville, Ky. More than 230 of Colvin’s family and friends gathered Sunday, Nov. 15 for the dinner and unveiling at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (KFEC), where the gallery has been located since 1977. Before that time, it was housed in the fabled Chicago Stock Yards beginning in 1903.
During his 55 years in animal agriculture, Colvin served as a farm manager and herdsman, earning the coveted John B. Brown Memorial Trophy for herdsman of the year in 1963. He then served as fieldman for the American Angus Association® beginning in 1968, and he established Colvin Angus Farm soon after. By 1978, Colvin’s vision, integrity and determination led him to embark on his most noted role of brand creator and beef marketer with the Certified Angus Beef® brand.
“Mick Colvin’s hard work, perseverance and commitment to excellence have influenced the lives of all in the beef cattle industry from pasture to plate,” said Bill Rishel, owner of Rishel Angus, North Platte, Neb., and past chairman of the brand’s board of directors. “From his earlier days as an Angus breeder to the formation of the world’s most recognized beef brand, he became the point man for one of the greatest paradigm shifts in the history of our industry.”
As executive director for 22 years, Colvin took the concept of identifying and marketing beef with consumer-focused quality specifications to a worldwide brand. Certified Angus Beef® product became the benchmark for quality beef within the food industry and a catalyst for consumer-driven approaches to cattle and beef marketing. During 2009, 663 million pounds (lb.) of Certified Angus Beef ® products were sold to consumers throughout the United States and in 45 other countries.
“The Certified Angus Beef Program is the most significant advancement in the beef business since carcasses began to be ribbed and graded in 1965 or when boxed beef got its foothold in the early 70s,” said Tim Hussman, Colvin’s first hire for the brand in 1983 and current president of Newport Meat Co., Irvine, Calif. “Through Mick’s leadership, breeders, feeders, USDA, packers, purveyors and retail stores continue working together to produce and deliver the highest quality beef we know how.”
The efforts Colvin led for two decades encouraged packers to pay premiums for qualifying cattle. In the past 12 years of grid payments to producers, the CAB share alone has reached $250 million. Additionally, Cattle-Fax in 2007 estimated the CAB brand and other USDA premium Choice and Prime programs add about $500 billion to the entire cattle industry each year. That’s an additional $19 for every head of finished cattle.
“Mick has distinguished himself among cowboys as well as corporate executives, and he possesses a masterful ability to relate equally well to all those with whom he comes in contact,” said Mary Ferguson, former associate director for the brand and current co-owner of Wolf Creek Angus Ranch, in Luray, Kan. “He truly is a ‘common man’ of uncommon character. Through words and action, he has inspired countless others by providing a strong, shining example.”
Colvin’s portrait was painted by Richard Halstead, Evanston, Ill. It was his fifteenth portrait in the gallery. Only one honored stockman each year can earn a spot in the Saddle & Sirloin Gallery. It is the largest gallery devoted to a single industry, with the earliest portraits of European stockmen from the 1700s.
Colvin was also among the 21 Charter Members inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame on Oct. 27 at Chicago’s Union League Club. Honorees were recognized for dedicating their careers to advancing the meat and poultry industries.
More than 15,000 businesses partner with the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in the United States and 45 other countries. Annual sales top $2.7 billion. Less than 8% of beef achieves the brand’s 10 benchmark standards that ensure mouthwatering flavor, juiciness and tenderness. For more information, visit www.certifiedangusbeef.com.