Eric Sarrazin landed a “cool job” with a digital ad agency right out of college. But for all the modern perks in the D.C. office – the beer fridge and the pool table – he still felt the call of the meat cutting business.
Today, he and his dad, Marc Sarrazin, manage the family’s specialty meat company DeBragga & Spitler, in Jersey City, N.J., just outside New York. The business was one of the very first licensed to sell the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand.
Eric grew up doing emergency deliveries out of the back of the family’s van and riding along to keep his dad awake when a midnight freezer alarm demanded attention.
Decades earlier, the father had swept loading docks, answered phones and cut bones as his dad, Marc Sr., was buying into the business, working his way up from meat cutter.
“For our staff, for them to see that there’s a third generation in the business, they feel good,” Marc says today. “They feel like there’s stability, security…a future.”
When he graduated college, there was a need to grow the sales force.
“My father was a little old school. His way of teaching was just to throw you in the deep end of the pool and have you kind of figure it out,” Marc says.
In turn, he encouraged Eric to get outside experience, and the 2008 economy called for that, too. Many clients are white-tablecloth restaurants, whose success is correlated with that of Wall Street’s.
“When you have a good year, you have a really good year,” Marc says. “When you have a bad year, it’s not an okay year. It’s a bad year.”
Businesses loosening the reins on expense accounts opened a door for Eric. His month-long stint in operations turned into the place where he shines.
At 4 a.m. each day, he arrives to manage logistics.
“This business is driven by what goes on the truck and the quality of what we’re pushing out the door,” Marc says. “Having somebody with interest here looking and seeing what goes on in the back of the shop is invaluable.”
The father didn’t have to tell me he was proud to have his son finding his niche in the family business. I could hear it in Marc’s voice.
During the October-December holiday rush, the same staff might double sales.
“There really is an exhilaration with being in the center of that,” Eric says, recalling his first season running out of product to load. “I ran to the butcher room and there was none available, so I’m sitting there on a saw cutting 4-inch marrow bones and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’m glad I didn’t go to law school or something like that. This is the kind of work I was meant for.’”
Not coincidentally, I’m sure, his dad also craves the crunch time.
“When I’ve put in a stupid-long day, be it inventory or mail-order in November and December, at the end of the day when you close your eyes and you’re like, ‘Wow. That was a job well done and a good day.’ That’s the most rewarding feeling of all time,” Marc says.
I know more than a few cattlemen who can identify. That’s a group the Sarrazins think of often with reverence.
“When you see the care they give their animals, I hope that they realize on our end we give the same care to the product,” Marc says. “We take a lot of pride, and without ranchers and people doing the right job on that end, we have no job.”
May your bottom line be filled with black ink,
A love of ranching is often passed on from generation to generation, but this week we’re showing you that spark for the beef community is often shared within families who process and market the product, too. Our “Footsteps worth following” series celebrates fathers and profiles some of the men who have pursued their careers with an intensity that has inspired their sons to join the profession.
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