At NebraskaBison.com, their mission is to provide customers with the finest, all-natural bison meat available. They offer quality bison burgers, steaks, jerky and more – all made from healthy and strong animals, free of antibiotics, hormones and steroids.
Owner Randy Miller bought his first heifer calves in 1995 from Custer State Park and shipped them to his ranch near Adams, Nebraska where they had room to roam and grow. He learned the bison business firsthand – from sorting calves in the fall to marketing his finished product.
Miller’s venture into the bison industry began as a hobby, with him starting out packaging the all-natural and healthy product for family and friends. As demand for bison grew, so did his herd and ranching operation, to include partner ranches that share the same principles for raising and processing excellent bison meat. “Once the herd expanded, we were marketing animals into Denver, Colorado and then we started online sales a year and a half ago,” he says.
Marketing Director Stacy Tamerius joined the company last year when Miller began to expand operations. She came onboard prior to launching their e-commerce site in July 2011. “We decided to market it to the online consumer direct and expanded into a few more restaurants and grocery stores as well,” she says.
What sets NebraskaBison.com apart is the quality control they exercise every step of the way – from conception to the dinner plate. A reason for the high quality is their unique dry aging process, which increases the flavor and tenderness of bison meat. It is a process that is hard to replicate in stores and restaurants due to the extra time it takes producers. Dry aging delivers a product that is truly exceptional.
“Most products are butchered and taken to the grocery store or the consumer the next day, whereas our product hangs for 14 to 21 days in the dry aging process,” Miller says. “It’s a longer process, which creates a lot better product.”
NebraskaBison.com’s products are sold online through their website and at select restaurants and grocery stores. A number of bison are also shipped to packers in Colorado. Their website also provides tips on how to cook bison as well as recipes to help people make the most of their meals. “We have a pretty diverse product selection for our customers online. It’s every kind of meat that you would get when you go to your grocery store,” says Tamerius.
The company’s approach to customer service is also critical to setting them apart – they have a 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee. As a result, business is largely made up of repeat customers driven by word-of-mouth referrals. When people call the company, Tamerius is happy to address and resolve any questions or concerns anyone may have. “We try to put an emphasis on making sure everybody is happy. We make sure everybody has an exceptional experience,” she says.
Since NebraskaBison.com employs only a handful of staff, some of their work is outsourced to their USDA packing plant in Hastings. There, they process the animals, and at the Crystal Creek Logistics fulfillment center in Ferndale, they prepare and ship the bison.
The small staff environment at the company makes for a close and well-oiled corporate culture, where “everything is run by everybody,” Tamerius says. “It’s a close atmosphere. Eventually we will grow, but right now it’s just the three of us and we all know everything that is going on.”
Lean and heart healthy
At NebraskaBison.com, they only use the highest quality of bison meat. While a large portion of their bison is homegrown, some of the young calves are purchased elsewhere and brought to their ranch for development. “They kind of come from all over throughout the Midwest primarily, but there are also partner ranches that we purchased our calves from on an annual basis,” he says. “We try to raise as many of them as possible ourselves.”
All of their bison roam free on the ranch and are – “and always will be” – treated humanely, with the utmost respect. This all-natural approach leads to a product that is extremely lean and heart healthy. In general, bison meat is emerging as a top choice for healthier eating, with dietary recommendations listed on the menus of the Mayo Clinic and American Heart Institution.
Bison is known for its high protein, which is lower in cholesterol, calories and fat content than chicken. “Research shows it is the second healthiest meat on the planet,” Miller says. “We’re pretty big on our bison diets and we’re pretty darn healthy people.”
Additionally, NebraskaBison.com remains extremely environmentally conscious to ensure the ranch’s eco-system and animals stay healthy.
The central challenge posed to NebraskaBison.com is maintaining an adequate supply to keep up with demand. “This is not a beef business where there are literally millions of animals out there,” Miller says. While they do have a sufficient supply to meet consumer’s demands, the limited bison population creates a balancing act for them. “Our supply is somewhat limited, which creates challenges for us, chefs, restaurants and the consumer – who are always thinking they can get anything they want anytime they want with very short notice.”
As a young company, NebraskaBison.com is looking at ways to grow the business. Product development is constant and new items are added to their menu regularly. They recently introduced a new bison jerky and are currently working on a bison hot dog, but it won’t be ready for consumers until it is “extremely healthy and high quality,” Miller says.
They’ve also recently purchased an additional fairly substantial-sized ranch to expand their operations and development of bison. “We want to control the product all the way through for quality control purposes,” he says.