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Editor’s blog: the rest of the story

With every story MEAT+POULTRY editors write in a given month, there are almost always editorial nuggets or unexpected sources of detail provided that are often as intriguing as the subject of the story itself.

Unfortunately, most of these details and side stories are too often left on the cutting room floor due to predetermined word counts and space limitations for each editorial component.

A perfect example of this happened when I was interviewing the main source for the March cover story (“In the Green”). The story focused on corned beef production from the perspective of an established processor – Boyle’s Famous Corned Beef Co., based in Kansas City, Mo. During my discussion with the company’s current president, Gregg Ouverson, he respectfully referenced the company’s founder, Bob Boyle, on several occasions. Bob Boyle passed away in 1993, but his legacy of producing quality meat lives on today and the business that was his life’s work is thriving.

It wasn’t until Ouverson sent me a yellowed copy of an article in the Kansas City Star, which accompanied Boyle’s obituary, that I grasped and appreciated the company’s story. Unfortunately, the founder’s story and the role he played in growing the company while giving back to his community was omitted from this month’s article. But that doesn’t diminish its relevance to business today.

As a young boy, Boyle worked for 10¢ an hour in a packing plant before starting Boyle Meat at age 18, according to the Star story. During World War II, he served in the Mediterranean Sea region as Chief Supply Officer, receiving a battlefield commission from General Dwight D. Eisenhower. After the war, he set himself the goal of expanding his business.

As the largest shareholder in Boyle’s Famous Corned Beef Co., he also ran what was then known as Boyle Meat Co., which supplied meat to hotels, restaurants and institutions. In the 1970s, he successfully negotiated trade agreements with partners in Japan to ship his products overseas. His businesses flourished, employing up to 180 workers with annual revenues of around $20 million.

He was loyal to his Kansas City-area customers and even dined daily at Jennie’s, an Italian restaurant in KC that featured Boyle’s products on the menu. He was also known for his loyalty to his community, including supporting scholarship programs at Avila College in Kansas City and his work to promote and expand agriculture-focused education. Boyle also sponsored area little league baseball teams.

“He was a perfect Irish gentleman,” Jennie’s owner Tom Barelli said of the friendship he and many others in the community developed with Boyle. “Many times he saved me,” Barelli told The Star.

“Mr. Boyle was a gentleman who at all times was considerate of others,” said Sister Olive Louise Dallavis, President Emeritus of Avila, “especially young people who need a good foundation in life.”

After his death, Viola, Bob Boyle’s wife of 54 years, took over the business and ran it for about four years until it was purchased by Ouverson and his longtime business partner, Don Wendl in 1997.

For the kids who played little league baseball wearing Boyle’s jersey years ago and the Avila students who benefited from the scholarships he supported and the hundreds of Boyle employees over the years , Bob Boyle’s legacy deserves more than a mention. These details are worth saving from the cutting room floor.