Texas Beef Jerky - The Story
"Family Tradition, Freeman Brothers Carry on Third Generation Business"
Excerpts from Focus Magazine Autumn 1986 Volume 4 Number 4
IN THE BEGINNING
Clint and Mildred Freeman opened their first market in old Skellytown in 1936. At the close of the first business day, July 25, the lone hog and beef which had hung in the cooler had been sold. Using a muffin tin and cigar box as a cash register, the pair paid back the $6 in change they had borrowed as operating capital, paid for the initial purchase, and replenished their supply.
Almost to the day, fifty years later, grandsons Johnny and Joe Freeman were moving into a new meat processing plant in White Deer. Their goal: Make the best Texas beef jerky around. Their new facility is an ultra-modern operation just west of the plant built by there grandad in 1945. Since Clint Freeman hung up that first pork and beef in a homemade cooler in old Skellytown, a lot of hours in the meat processing business have been chalked up by three generations of Freemans.
The Freemans eventually moved a store into new Skellytown, the building still stands on the west side of Main Street.
Clint had come to the area with his dad, "Dandy" Freeman, and worked on the Henry Schaffer Ranch. At 16 years of age, Clint spent the school months in Amarillo working in a grocery store with his uncle. "Dandy" Freeman had taught him some about butchering, but the grocery business, with a market included, appealed to Clint. He married Mildred Lee and moved back to Skellytown with encouragement from Schaffer. They sold out to Clyde Horner in 1942 and moved north of Skellytown to farm.
Having built up a successful business after the small beginning, the Freemans had bought out one grocer, built up trade and then sold. "I like to build business," says Clint today. "I like to build 'em and then sell 'em." The best Texas beef jerky would soon follow.
CLINT'S ZERO MARKET
In 1945, with two years on the farm and a small slaughterhouse operation in process, Clint was persuaded by A.J. Dauer to move to White Deer. "I'm not putting any money in your dead town," he recalls telling the civic leader. White Deer needed a slaughterhouse and food locker business, Dauer insisted.
"He tossed and turned all night that night," Mildred says. "I told him he just may as well get up and go on over to White Deer and tell Mr. Dauer he would do it. I figured he was going to anyway," she chuckles.
He did and "Clint's Zero Locker" was born. Clint didn't stop there, he remodeled, fixed and improved the location, opening the grocery portion facing Main Street in White Deer and added snappy black and white paint and neon lights to the exterior.
With over 500 frozen food lockers available, meat marketing changed forever in Carson County. "We had, (and Johnny and Joe still do,) customers from all over the area. Custom cutting and quick freezing were new tactics which changed the marketing of meat. The custom killing and cutting reputation was growing!
With Johnny and Joe growing up and off to college, the businesses were leased out a time or two. However, in 1977 when Johnny graduated from West Texas University with a degree in agribusiness and the younger Joe was finishing his school term as an animal science major, the pair decided to take back the processing business. "It was a business we knew, we liked it, and it was here at home." "Mac Grange brought in the first steer we ever did ourselves. Then Dad brought in eight head and helped us. When we got through with them, he said we were on our own!" "He always did like the cattle buying and selling better than butchering," the pair grins.
It's a family tradition and that's a lot of family and a lot of tradition!
"Construction Started for New Freeman Brothers Building"
White Deer News Volume 26, Number 21, Thursday, August 29, 1985
Construction started this week on a new 4100-square foot building to be the new home of Clint & Sons Custom Processing & Slaughtering. According to owner-operators Joe and Johnny Freeman, the new building will hopefully be complete by the first of the year.
It will be located on the corner of Third and Omohundro in White Deer, which is across the alley from their present operation, and next to the slaughter house to be replaced.
The new facilities are being built by Jim Sartain of Amarillo and will be a Western Steel Building with partial brick and glass construction. Included will be a large process room, offices and bookkeeping area.
The present facilities located in the back part of Freeman Bros. Grocery & Market will all be moved to the new building, and enable the possible expansion of the grocery store and meat market sometime in the future.
Joe and Johnny Freeman are third-generation of the Freeman family in the meat and grocery business in White Deer.
"From Then To Now, A Retrospect "
The business expanded by adding on more cooler space, a sausage kitchen, and a state-of-the-art smokehouse in 1997.
In 2003 Justin began working full-time at Clint & Sons and has become an invaluable asset, carrying on the family name and tradition of the meat business.
In 2009 a high volume production plant was constructed, built to our specs insuring we could produce our jerky products with the same quality and taste our many customers had grown to love, and still be able to keep up with the highly demanding market.
2012 A Federal Inspection has allowed us to sell products in 7 different states, over 2,500 stores.
Hope you enjoyed learing more about Clint & Sons, we leave you with, "We appreciate your business and look forward to hearing from you!