One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"

Side of Beef
September 2004

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The story of Bernie Guzman's life is an inspiring example of the American Dream come true. For thirty-one years Bernie has held onto his dream and worked with single-minded determination to achieve it. With Nancy McCullough, his business partner for the last five years, Bernie now owns and operates Guzman's Meat Processing, located on Birch Road at Highway 191. It's been a long haul and his achievement is inspiring but he isn't ready to retire by any means. Bernie has plans.

At 19 Bernie came from Jalisco, Mexico to work at the Maricopa Meat Packing plant in Phoenix. He started at the bottom, cleaning the floors, but continually asked for more responsibility so he could learn everything about packaging meat. He was soon promoted to foreman and worked in that position for many years at several companies. Early on he began formulating his concepts for his own operation, his own business.

Five years ago, in Tucson, he launched his meat processing service. Bernie explained that for years there have been small service companies that travel to ranches of all sizes to kill and dress cattle onsite and then haul the carcasses back to the processing plant. However, Bernie believed the sanitary conditions of the process could be easily improved, so he and his business partner, Nancy McCullough, bought three 8' x 20' trailers and Bernie got to work.

Bernie would drive his "mobile kill floor" to a ranch and work just outside and within the spotless and insect free trailer. All three trailers were outfitted with a rail and hoist system so the carcasses could be easily moved in and out and between trailers. The carcasses would hang safe from flies and the weather inside the "kill floor" trailer as he drove back to move them into the refrigerated storage trailer. After they aged in the storage trailer Bernie would process them.

But Bernie's dream was only beginning to come true. His goal has been to offer services "from corral to display" and a year and a half ago he moved his operations to the storefront at 1081 E. Birch Road, a state inspected facility (520-826-7786). He began purchasing and preparing one or two steers a week to offer in his display case.

A few months ago I bought an entire side of beef from Bernie for my upright freezer. Bernie bought the steer, found a buyer for the other half, and after the carcass had aged for a couple of weeks, he cut it into steaks and roasts and ribs. He also prepared a lot of the meat as ground beef, all to my specifications on the order form. The meat is better than any I've ever bought in a grocery store. (This was my first side of beef.)

Bernie processes beef, lamb, pig, wild game, and fowl. For health safety reasons he will not process home kills or "downers".

This year Bernie and Nancy have added smoked hams using their own recipe. I bought one for Easter and it was delicious. In addition to their whole chuck beef bologna, beef jerkey, canadian bacon, and various sausages, they now also offer Longanisa Ranchero de Mama. It's just the first in a line of high quality sausages based on his mother's "old world" recipes.

Bernie wishes me to express his gratitude to all his customers, from Sierra Vista, Douglas, and Bisbee to Tucson and Marana. You have made his American Dream come true!!