While Tim Petersen is a first-generation rancher, ranching wasn’t his first career path. He was raised in Arizona, spending most of his life outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping with his father, who did work as a carpenter on several ranches, and taught his son a love for the outdoors. This love for the land and the outdoors gave Tim a genuine appreciation for those who managed and cared for the landscapes, leading him to his eventual career as a rancher and owner of Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co.
Tim’s career path varied and has included stints in mule training and real estate appraisal, which eventually led him to real estate development. When the great recession hit in 2008, he was at the top of the real estate game with custom home features in high-end magazines across the state of Arizona. However, 2008 would disrupt that success, as it did for many across the country. While this was a crushing blow to many, Tim used it as an opportunity to pivot, learn and grow, deciding he would do something different, which would pull from his diverse background and heritage. His father worked on ranches in northern Arizona, and his grandfather owned three butcher shops in Chicago, meaning the ranching and meat business made sense for Tim.
The ranching and meat businesses are not easy ones to break into, and Tim knew that. He came into the game with the financial knowledge on managing a successful ranch from his appraisal days. To fill in knowledge gaps, Tim took time to work on a friend’s ranch and even worked at the local Bashas’ meat department, where he learned the basics of cleaning the saw blades and other essential equipment care to the more complex requirements. These jobs may seem menial and unimpressive to some, but Tim had a greater goal in mind, and he took it all as a learning experience. The ranch he was working on at the time was leased, and he eventually took over that lease, where he was able to kick off his ranch and beef business. From there, it’s a tale of hard work and ingenuity.
What started out as a small business that relied on a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected harvesting facility over 100 miles away has resulted in a more integrated company built piece by piece, from hard work and creative thinking. When Tim started selling his beef directly to consumers, he would haul cattle to the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab. Not long into this business, he located a harvesting facility in Chino Valley, which was ready to sell and, with his business partner, Tim purchased it. This was the best business decision as it allowed him to control the quality of the end beef product and the flow of that product. This harvesting plant is also UDSA inspected, meaning all the beef produced there can be sold anywhere in the USA.
Cattle produce about 60% edible beef, and the rest is bones, fat, tendons, etc. Tim doesn’t like to see anything go to waste, as many harvesting plants don’t, so he was keen on figuring out what to do with all the extra byproducts. His business partner is health-conscious and suggested they start producing bone broth. Bone broth is nutrient-dense, providing vitamins, minerals, and collagen. Those who are focused on their physical health find it very beneficial. Tim found a commercial kitchen to execute this idea where they eventually started to also make beef and other animal tallow (fat) which is used by restaurants. Pet treats are made from the lungs and other organs. Beef jerky is made from cuts that might not have the marbling needed for a steak or roast but is a better product in jerky form. Ground beef is a popular product, but as anyone who has raised a steer for harvest knows, there is always a lot of ground beef. So, Tim is currently developing a beef jerky that uses ground beef, ensuring that the product is used and not wasted.
Timing seems to be Tim’s best skill, as they launched an aggressive online business about two years ago, right before the COVID pandemic hit. When consumers were unsure about the reliability of their food supply, Tim and his company could keep harvesting cattle, producing beef, and selling it to people around the country. Tim reports that about 80% of his business is now done online. His product is also distributed by well-known foodservice companies such as Shamrock, Sysco, Peddler’s Son, and Custom Foods.
Tim supports the entire beef community and says, “American ranchers and feeders are raising some of the healthiest beef we’ve ever raised.” He’s found a niche in the grass-finished world of beef, and he has done everything he can to ensure the entire animal is used to the best and highest use. Grass-finished beef is a small portion of the overall beef product in the US, but there is a demand for it, and Tim is happy to fill it. Overall, Tim is a businessman who cares about what he sells to his customers. He is always willing to find a solution to a problem and find a niche to fulfill. Tim often says, “The market never lies,” and he’s proven that time and again with his current business and career path.