When we first launched Independent Processor magazine (then called Independent Provisioner) several years ago, we wanted to get the magazine started off right. That meant putting a company on the cover that truly exemplified what our magazine was about.

Allen Brothers seemed a logical choice. It was a family-owned business, and it fit within our definition of a mid-sized meat processor. Most importantly, it was an innovative company that had developed a strong niche in the high-end steak market and had made several great strides in making its brand name synonymous with quality.

I will always be grateful to Bobby and Todd Hatoff for helping us get IP off the ground. I’ve kept up with everything that Allen Brothers has been doing since that magazine article five years ago, and Bobby was a fixture at many of the industry events I attended. Every time I met him, he’d greet me with a warm handshake, ask how things were going, and compliment me on whatever it was that I’d written lately.

Bobby’s death this weekend was a tremendous loss for the industry, and a personal blow as well. It’s hard to imagine future conferences without his calm demeanor. He was in his element there, as an industry leader dedicated to improving the business of not just his own meat company, but every meat company. Bobby was a very soft-spoken man — to the point that you’d have to lean in to hear him. But when Bobby spoke, the rest of the room immediately quieted down to listen to what he had to say. He gave out his wisdom freely and without hesitation, and it would be almost impossible to count the number of people and companies who benefited from it.

Bobby made the industry better with his generosity.  He was always there for any fellow processor to answer a question, to offer advice for a problem or to provide the name of a potential business partner. In one of his last acts for the industry, he helped spearhead the merger of NAMP and NMA into the North American Meat Association, which will bring numerous long-term benefits to its members.

Later this month, Bobby is to be one of the inductees of the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. It will be a celebration of his life and everything he meant to the meat industry.

I just wish — as I’m sure many of you do as well — that he could have attended the induction ceremony; it would have been gratifying to see this humble man be honored in front of his friends and colleagues.