Interview with an entrepreneur: Ed Linck

Jun 16, 2020


“Buy Local. Eat All Natural. Live Well.”

From Conductor

Buy Local, Eat All Natural, Live Well – this is what Barham’s Ozark Beef believes. A two-part business, Charles Barham raises beef in Ozark, Arkansas, and Ed Linck markets, sells, and delivers beef out of Conway, Arkansas. 

The business model – two cows a month are set aside for sales, sold in quartered increments for customers to purchase. Some customers are waitlisted, as they have months that are sold out in advance. 

“Charolais cows of high quality that are as good or most cases better than what you will find at the grocery store,” is how Linck explains the beef to customers. 

When you buy from Barham’s Ozark Beef you know where the beef comes from and what it was fed. They don’t put a needle in a cow unless they’re sick and then it is highly likely that cow would be pulled from the program. The most unique aspect of Barham’s Ozark Beef is the cattle’s diet. 

“They get a steady diet of sweet potatoes,” Linck said. 

There is a food production plant near Ozark and Barham takes leftover sweet potatoes and puts them in flat bottom boats to feed the cattle. Between sweet potatoes, grain, and pasture grazing, the cows are fed well. 

The cuts are customized to customer specifications. Barham’s Ozark Beef also chooses a quality processor, Cypress Valley Meat Company, that vacuum seals and clearly labels the meat. Cypress Valley Meat Company is one of the two USDA certified processing plants in Arkansas, which happens to be located between Ozark and Conway. 

“We are confident in what we are selling, all-natural beef,” Linck said. 

Linck saw that the farm to table concept had grown a lot from the time he lived in California to moving back to Arkansas. He always looked at businesses he thought he could acquire due to it failing or not knowing how to market their product. 

Linck had his stepfather, Barham, over for dinner one night and the partnership was born. Barham doesn’t know much about sales & websites, but he is a specialist when it comes to raising cattle. Linck knew he could create a great sales and marketing program to showcase Barham’s great work. They jumped into the farm to table concept, aiming to be the best, because they had one of the best farmers on their team. 

Linck said that Barham’s Ozark Beef will always sell to families and partner with local restaurants to supply their beef. Linck has also looked at similar companies to partner with when their inventory is low. 

The first year they set aside a small amount of cattle to sell. Now that their customer base has grown, they decided to set aside a larger portion of cattle to sell, but still worry that their inventory might not be sold as fast as they would like. The sales and delivery relationship is still a delicate balance for their team.

“We feel confident that we have the foundation, marketing wise, to hit those goals,” Linck said. 

They have great customer service feedback with Google reviews, recipes, and positive comments. Linck finds it very helpful to receive feedback once the meat is delivered. 

Now with his customer base expanding, Linck was approached by a customer in Phoenix, Arizona, who would like to purchase the product. Linck was determined to solve the logistics of shipping beef nationwide, while keeping it frozen. After research and due diligence, he has cracked the code to shipping beef across states. With local sales mastered, his new frontier is shipping & expanding the market geographically. 

“That could get interesting and have its own logistical challenges, I just want to make sure that if it is a local client or someone outside of Arkansas, they get the beef in a way that is perfect,” Linck said. 

On the production side, the potential to expand is virtually unlimited. Barham can always purchase additional cows and land, as long as there is a customer base to support expansion.

Linck’s favorite aspect about his business is being a part of the family or friend environment that comes with selling the beef. The fact that people are sitting together or having a barbeque while enjoying the meat he sold brings him joy. 

“I love hearing other entrepreneurs’ stories through my job at the Chamber and Conductor events, so I guess this is our story,” Linck said. 

When asked what success means to him, Linck laughed, “Not having a freezer full of beef. It does worry me that we will end up with a ton of beef in our freezer!” 

“A waiting list would also be a sign of success,” Linck said.