Meet AAMP President Chad Lottman
Lottman, along with wife, Courtney, are the owners and operators of C&C Processing in Diller, Neb. and Landmark Snacks in Beatrice, Neb. A first-generation processor, Lottman built the business from the ground up. In 1994, at the age of 19, the Lottmans bought the only grocery store in Chad’s hometown of Diller. They ran the store for two years until their first addition and added meat processing to the business. In 1996, a slaughter floor was added and the back of the store was utilized to become a custom exempt plant. In 2001, C & C Processing doubled its size and became a USDA inspected plant. In 2003, the store was remodeled to include more space for specialty meats, as well as to accommodate a booming deer processing business. A year later, they expanded again, adding a processing area and a sausage-making area with a smokehouse. After continued growth, Landmark Snacks was built in nearby Beatrice to allow the expansion of their co-packing business and was opened in April 2016.
The Lottmans have developed their own line of specialty products called Blue Valley Brand Meats. In 2002, they bought Pony Express Ranch, a product line featuring old-fashioned and hickory smoked meats. In addition to the facility expansions, BlueValleyBrand.com was created to better serve their customers. The website provides a variety of services, including product pictures/descriptions, ordering items to be shipped, recipes, and more. While they built their business with custom processing and deer processing, those activities have been discontinued to allow co-packing for other customers to be the primary focus.
At the state level, Chad has been a member of the Nebraska Association of Meat Processors (NAMP) for over 20 years and served as director for over 12 years. He served as president of NAMP in 2004. Chad actively helps with and attends both state and national meat association conventions, striving to gain more knowledge and expertise in the industry. C&C Processing has also won countless awards with their products at both state and national cured meats shows.
At the national level, Chad and Courtney were the recipients of the AAMP Accomplishment Award in 2001, which recognizes the honoree’s outstanding achievements in the meat and poultry industry, accomplished over a relatively short period of time. Chad has served as the chair of the Meat Inspection/Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Membership and Scholarship Committees.
In his local community, Chad has been a member of the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce since 2002, Beatrice Chamber of Commerce since 2012, and member of the Diller Community Club since 1994. He has been a Diller volunteer firefighter for over 22 years, 18 of those years also serving as an EMT. In 2007, Chad received the Volunteer of the Year Award by the Fairbury Chamber of Commerce. He is a lifetime member and 7th generation at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Diller. Chad and Courtney have two daughters.
Chad spoke with AAMP recently about his involvement in the industry and what he hopes to accomplish during his term as president.
Q: As a processor, what are some of the major changes or trends you have seen in the industry over the years?
A: One of the changes I’ve noticed is more private labeling and co-packing services which allows processors to focus on production and the brands to focus on sales. We [C&C Processing] followed that trend. We started as a small custom processor along with our retail and it has transformed over the years.
As there are a lot of challenges to keeping up with sanitation and environmental testing expectations while performing slaughter in the same location as fully cooked operations, the expanding private labeling/co-packing business opens the door for processors to specialize and grow in areas that they perform well in. It can be hard for the branded companies to keep up with regulatory issues and manage production facilities, so it becomes easier for them to hire processing services so they can focus on sales of their items rather than worrying about operating a facility.
Q: What are some of the major challenges you are seeing in the industry right now?
A: Keeping up with regulations and requirements is always a challenge. We see on the news the amount of recalls in the last few years due to allergens and foreign materials. While allergen recalls have declined in the last year, foreign material recalls have grown significantly, and it will be a big challenge for the industry to keep up with managing them. Foreign material and allergens were not large concerns five years ago but are instant recalls today.
Requirements of third party audits is another one of the major challenges. While the larger plants have had third party audits for years, it is becoming more expected of all plants regardless of size these days.
Q: What accomplishments would you like to see by the end of your term as president?
A: I would like to see an increase in membership. We have a strong association and I want to work to grow it.
Q: What else do you want people to know about you and your leadership of AAMP?
A: I truly believe that AAMP is responsible for the growth and success of my business through the benefits and the friendships that I have made. My hope is to help spread the word to others about how they can benefit from an AAMP membership, and I hope to maintain AAMP as a great association that all those before me built so well.
Q: AAMP: What advice would you give to processors just starting out in the industry?
A: Join AAMP, as well as your state association. The best thing you can do is to meet others and be able to learn from their mistakes and get advice for improvements. As a meat processor, you will have a lot of pride in the products you produce. Helping to feed others and making good quality products can be very rewarding.
Q: Are there any new technologies or marketing tools you are employing to help boost sales in your business?
A: As we struggle with staffing, we continue to automate to help increase our production output without adding significant staffing. We still expect to maintain a healthy workforce but hope to transition to more skilled workers versus all general laborers.
Q: Any future plans for C&C Processing/LandMark Snacks?
A: We are fortunate to have a large growth in business over the last five years, and we have a lot to keep up with maintaining that and continuing that growth through new customers and expansion of our current lines. With the addition of LandMark snacks, our second facility gives us the space to manage our growth over the next few years.