Documentary Honors the Man behind the Brand
“Greatness is not something you can weigh or measure scientifically,” says Richard Halstead, an acclaimed portrait artist for inductees of the Saddle and Sirloin Portrait Gallery in Louisville, Ky. Halstead was reflecting on the gallery’s honorees in a recent documentary, titled "I Am Angus, The Art of Greatness," created by the American Angus Association®.
Started in 1903, the portrait gallery tells the story of cattlemen and women, icons of rural America. It is the largest collection of noted artists in the world devoted to a single industry. Among the honorees is Louis M. “Mick” Colvin, a founder of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in 1978 and the leader for its first 22 years. Colvin's hard work, perseverance and commitment to excellence have influenced the lives of all in the beef cattle industry.
Born the son of a dairy farmer near the village of Shellsburg, Pa., Colvin was described by artist Halstead in the documentary as a very brilliant man, a visionary. “This man is of enormous value to the entire livestock industry, but especially to the Angus breed for what he did in building the Certified Angus Beef ® brand,” Halstead says.
From his earlier days as an Angus breeder to the formation of the world’s most recognized beef brand, Colvin became the point man for one of the greatest paradigm shifts in the history of beef. Colvin took the concept of identifying and marketing beef with consumer-focused quality specifications to a worldwide brand. Certified Angus Beef ® brand product became the benchmark for quality beef within the food industry and a catalyst for consumer-driven approaches to cattle and beef marketing.
It was no easy feat. It took Colvin 22 months to sell the first million pounds of the trademarked brand—an amount of beef that is sold in minutes today.
As Colvin shares in the documentary, he knocked on seemingly every door in the beef business, hearing the same phrase repeatedly: “Young man, this program sounds like a good idea. You come back or give me a call when you get it started.”
He kept knocking until he finally heard the answer he was seeking: “Yes.”
Through one challenge after another in introducing the beef brand, Colvin stood firm in his belief in building the brand on his core values—the most important being integrity. It’s a foundation that was tested more than once throughout his career, even as the brand gained momentum and global recognition for assured quality.
“Looking back, it looks easy,” Colvin says. “But it wasn’t.”
Colvin always made sure the brand could stand behind its name and claims. Being true to his word was more than the key to his success; it was integral to the brand’s existence and acclaim today.
“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,” says Tim Hussman, Colvin’s first hire for the brand in 1983 and past 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.”
Through Colvin’s leadership, the ability to stand behind its marketing claims set the Certified Angus Beef ® brand apart from others that would follow. From the beginning, each pound has been tracked from the packing plant of USDA certification to the final sale. This focus on integrity ensures the brand’s fine quality wherever consumers purchase the trademarked beef throughout the United States and in 50 other countries.