Fresh off the heels of an eventful Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, spirits are high around cow town. Bringing together nearly 7,000 cattlemen from all over the country is always a good time to look ahead, to learn from others and set goals after a hard year’s work. But who says looking back is a bad thing? Sometimes the reminiscing makes what is that much sweeter.

At CAB, remembering the past is a joyful process. We learn from history and appreciate the changes, while admiring the many elements of the brand that are essentially the same today as they were in the very beginning.

I recently had the honor of sitting down with Dr. Bob VanStavern (Dr. Bob as we refer to him around the office) to talk about the early years of the company and how he developed the set of specifications that have withstood the many changes in the industry over the past 35 years.

At CAB's Education & Culinary Center, Dr. Bob stopped by the VanStavern Room.


I walked into his home a young lady with a passion for the beef industry and CAB and walked out with a deep admiration for a groundbreaker. As I stepped through his door, I stepped back in time and quite frankly, I wish I could have remained there longer.

As Dr. Bob so poetically told me, his job is to teach; I feel mine is to share:

Dr. Bob resides in Ohio and recalls the early years as if they were yesterday.

When asked about Mick Colvin, the first CAB chief executive, visiting him at Ohio State, Dr. Bob said, “He came down to the office and said he wanted to talk about specifications, and I said, ‘We don’t need to talk, I got ’em right here in the drawer.’”

Or remembering some of the hurdles, Dr. Bob said, “All we had to do was get people to work together — which wasn’t easy,” and “I think the toughest sell we had was the academic community. Most of them had been ingrained with producing lean cattle, simply because they’d been fighting fat for so long.”

These are just a few teasers to the rest of the story. I welcome you to take a seat at one of the best tables I have ever had the pleasure of joining and listen in to the conversations that shaped what is now the largest branded beef company in the world.

Today, I say tomorrow can wait. Let’s look back for a bit.

Please enjoy: Father of the Specs, A Q & A with Bob VanStavern.