passions intertwine with work, family and community
by Marissa Lorenz
For residents of Kremmling, new or native, it may come as a surprise that Mitch Lockhart is not a native himself, so entrenched is he today in the workings of the community.
Mitch did grow up in Colorado, spending most of his childhood between Limon and Cañon City.
He moved to Kremmling in 2009 with his wife, Christina Lockhart, née Bumgarner, whose family homesteaded in Kremmling generations ago. They returned to work on the family ranch and to, eventually, start their own family.
“We’ve always believed that raising our family in a small community fits us best,” Mitch explains. “We believe in the
morals and values that Kremmling holds and believe this is a great place to raise a family.”
On the ranch, Mitch became interested in meat processing, especially beef processing, and was fortunate to have experienced butcher Al Manguso as a neighbor. “Al offered to teach me,” Mitch recounts. “He’s the person I processed my first beef with and continued with for a couple of years, processing beef and elk.”
“I fell in love with it; I knew that’s what I wanted to do and knew it would benefit the ranch,” he continues. “I’m lucky enough that my passions intertwine. They all have a piece with one another.”
In 2014, the Lockharts purchased Troublesome Meat Processing, “a well-established service for the community in which wild game is processed to hunter’s preferences,” from other neighbors, Ted and Peggy Scott. And in 2017, they purchased Kremmling’s emblematic Middle Park Meat Company from Harlan Land.
The businesses hold a central role in Kremmling as a traditional ranching and pioneer community where ideals of family, land, and self-sufficiency continue to reign, and Mitch’s successful guidance in each has ensured the advancement of those time-honored values.
But Mitch is adamant in recognizing that the success of each of his endeavors is entirely due to the quality of his employees and co-workers.
“The success of my businesses is not on my shoulders,” Mitch insists, “it is from the employees and people that surround us in this community. I’ve been blessed to find management and employees who have really allowed me to focus on the ownership side and not the managerial side of the businesses.
I have faith and trust in them. They don’t require me to be there micromanaging. That means I can really take everything I do and put it toward the next step for that business, moving it in the right direction. The employees are the heart and soul of all of my businesses. All of them combined are what make the businesses function.”
And his co-workers return that respect.
“Mitch is a great leader, in business and in coaching, because he’s not fearful and not afraid to make a mistake,” says Jesse Beyeler, butcher and cousin to Mitch. “Many young people see mistakes as a failure, but it’s our mistakes that make us the people we are.”
Supporting youth and community
Those leadership skills have also taken Mitch into other areas of community service. He has been involved in youth athletics from the time of his arrival, starting with coaching baseball and then adding participation in many of the other sports. “I fell in love with coaching and am happy being able to be a coach of anything,” he explains. “I’ve coached a plethora of peewee
sports and have had the opportunity to coach just about everything you can in Kremmling.”
Mitch has also served on the West Grand School Board for the last three years. “We have three kids in school,” he offers. “So right away I have a vested interest in the happenings now and the future happenings of the West Grand School District. I strongly believe that the youth are our future and the future of Grand County and its successes.”
“I very much enjoy working with our youth and have had the opportunity to work with many great coaches and parents who are actively involved in their children’s scholastic and extracurricular activities.”
COVID19 has obviously presented unforeseen challenges for business, education, and recreation in the Kremmling community. The District has worked hard to be able to continue educating students in the safest way possible. Businesses have seen shifts in supply and demand.
Mitch details how interruptions in the meat supply and distribution system have shifted business at Middle Park Meat. Though beef jerky and pork chops remain the most in-demand products, he describes, “At one point, no one could get chicken. As soon as we got it, we sold it. And then it was beef. It was eye-opening, from an ownership standpoint, to see the bigger picture. That demand shifted as our economy shifted.”
But Mitch remains hopeful for business and youth in the community. “Kremmling is a community in which you can count on your neighbor to help you through a rough patch or lend you their talents, and you’re happy to do the same.”
“It’s hard in these political times to feel too upbeat or optimistic about the future,” he continues. “But I feel like this community and this group of parents–the school district–are all putting their best efforts forward to raise future leaders with good heads on their shoulders. And I believe, whatever financial turn happens in the future, those youth will embrace whatever growth needs to come and take it head-on.”
As for Mitch, his next step is to expand Middle Park Meat in 2021 through a mobile BBQ trailer with a full commercial kitchen and a 500-pound smoker that will bring the meat market’s offerings to community events and private catered venues.
“We hope to be able to expand upon our passion for smoking and curing meats while making them more accessible across the county,” notes Mitch.
To find more about products and services available, contact Middle Park Meat Company at 970-724-3786 or Troublesome
Meat Processing at 970-724-3759. Or better yet, stop by Middle Park Meats in person and take home the best fresh meat in Grand County!