From its inception, Cloud’s Meats has been all about family and the Cloud family plans to keep it that way well into the future.
After too many years of drought and low prices while farming near Jasper, Missouri, Lloyd Cloud needed to supplement the family income and went to work for Hammond Packing just outside of Carthage. In 1959, he and wife Patty purchased the business and it became Cloud’s Meats — a name now recognized all over the Four States.
“At that time, things were very simple,” said Andy Cloud, production manager of Cloud’s Meats and grandson of Lloyd and Patty. “We didn’t do anything other than custom slaughter.”
As times changed and agriculture in the Four States transformed, Cloud’s Meats evolved from a simple custom processing plant to include a variety of services and products.
“Whenever my grandparents retired out of the business, my parents — Mike and Pat — took over,” Andy said. “As the needs of the community around us changed, so did the business and we started incorporating retail sales.
“This was a way to diversify the business because custom slaughter is very seasonal,” Andy said, explaining the summer months are slow but winter months are busy for custom processing work. “By diversifying, we were able to stay consistently busy throughout the year and we could use our employees in different aspects of the business.”
The business has also expanded as the family has grown with new generations.
“There’s more family in the business and there are more mouths to feed,” Andy said. “We expand so there’s a place for all the family members.”
Andy’s sister-in-law Michelle handles the finances of the business while Mike is semi-retired and Pat is retired from the business. There also are five Cloud grandchildren who may decide to enter the business in the future.
His dad, Mike, emphasized the family isn’t just those with the Cloud name.
“It’s family out there,” Mike said. “We are now working for grandkids of our customers.
“We know the families so well, and it’s sad when I look in the obituaries and I see we lost a good customer we’ve known forever,” he continued. “We take notice when we lose someone. I don’t think of them as a customer so much as someone I’ve known forever. It’s just family.”
He said it’s an honor to have developed these relationships and friendships with their customers over the years.
“I’d hate to think of not serving them,” Mike said.
At their location just off Fairview Avenue outside of Carthage, customers can select from an assortment of jerkies, fresh meats and other products. They also offer catering services and custom deer processing in addition to custom processing for local farmers and ranchers.
Andy explained they follow state inspection regulations, which allows them to purchase local livestock to slaughter for their retail case or for others who sell meat to the public.
“We’ve found throughout the years that people are more particular about how they want their livestock processed,” Andy pointed out. “Years ago, pretty much everyone had things done the same — it was just a simple processing with bone-in cuts and as many roasts as you can get and as many steaks as you can get but that’s changed a lot.”
To accommodate this change, they offer more options than in the past including more cooked products, boneless products, flavor varieties and packaging options.
And they continue to look to the future. Cloud’s Meats has developed the Ozark Heritage brand of sausages to begin selling in other locations. The product line includes the Cloud’s Meats logo but the Ozark Heritage brand name is a throwback to their roots in the area.
“It gives us a little bit of an emotion,” Andy said. “If you look at the label, that’s actually a photograph in the background from the 1890s and that is the Cloud Mill in Stone County and that is my great-great-great grand-pa.”
The Ozark Heritage line features unique ingredients consumers will appreciate.
“We felt it was very important to have a ‘clean’ label on it,” Andy said. “We’re using local pork and we’ve taken out all the ‘unknown’ ingredients.”
They’ve replaced the sodium nitrate with celery juice powder, sodium erythorbate with cherry juice powder, and sodium tripolyphosphate with potato starch.
“We wanted everything a person reads on the label to be something they recognize as a real food,” Andy said. “We’re really excited about this, and it’s going to be really exciting for people who are interested in that type of product.”
And for those who don’t necessarily care about a “clean” label, it all tastes the same, he added.
They hope to distribute the product in the Joplin-Springfield-Branson area next year.
When asked why they put so much effort into serving the Four States, Andy replied:
“It’s just what we’ve always done.” £