JEROMESVILLE — For 40 years, the Certified Angus Beef brand has been linking the farm to the dinner plate by raising the bar high for itself and constantly striving to set the standards by which all beef is measured.
To celebrate, they threw a party. Actually, they threw 40 parties in 40 different cities and they left their mark in each community.
Throughout the year, Troy Freeman traveled around the country painting the Certified Angus Beef brand logo on barns from New York to California as part of their "Brand The Barn" 40th anniversary celebration. He finished barn number 40 on Thursday at the Atterholt Farm near Jeromesville.
"This was a unique project," said Freeman, a Springfield, Illinois native. "I have done contractual sign painting for clients all over, but nothing on this scale, it was intense."
After painting a few barns, Freeman starting looking at the project differently.
"I was about two barns into it when I realized that it was less about the barn and more about meeting the farmers and getting to know them," he said.
He spent two to three days at each location and he made it a point to get to know the families at each farm to get a better understanding of their daily lives. In some cases, Freeman got a little bit more than he bargained for.
"I ended up feeding the cows at one farm, and at another farm some cattle got loose and I went out and helped round them up," he recalled. "It is bittersweet now that it is over."
Freeman estimated that he has only been back home in Springfield, Ill., about four weeks since the project kicked off in March. "But, I am going to go home, take off my shoes and kick back for a while now," he joked.
John Stika, president of the company, agreed with Freeman and contrasted the Certified Angus Beef brand to a conduit that helps bring people together "from farm to plate."
"This product is produced and brought to market and tables of consumers around the world by people," Stika said. "Painting the barns became a reason to bring like-minded people together that share in a part of something bigger."
The project came together after nearly a year and a half of planning.
"We spent a lot of time looking at something we could do that was unique," said Bryan Schaaf, chief liaison at CAB. "In an age of social media and digital billboards, we thought why not go back in time a little bit. You can say that we took a page from the Mail Pouch playbook with this. It fit in line with us and our mission."
The first package of Certified Angus Beef was sold at a grocery store in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 18, 1978. Since its early start in West Salem, the company has moved its headquarters to Wooster and now boasts a worldwide reach.
David Daniels, director of the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture, presented a proclamation signed by Gov. John Kasich to Stika recognizing the achievement.
"What they have done with their brand has been great for them and certainly great for the cattle industry," Daniels said. "The fact that they have built their company and the brand is impressive. This being the 100th anniversary of the Ohio Angus Association, this shines a spotlight on animal agriculture in Ohio and what it means to our economy."
The 16-foot logo that now adorns the Atterholt’s barn on their farm will be seen by people from all over the country. The farm is operated by Aaron and Mandy Atterholt. Mandy is also an employee of CAB.
"A lot of people that come to Wooster to visit the culinary center at CAB are chefs and retailers," Mandy said. "Many of them have never seen cattle or the live end of production. Aaron and I host them here at our farm and show them all the aspects of what it takes on our end."
— Reporter Dan Starcher can be reached at 330-287-1626 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WoosterWriter