Five minutes with Charlie Boyd II, his son Blake, and Charlie’s mother Martha, is more than enough time to get a clear picture of the family’s love for one another, the cattle business, their community, and their pride in stewarding the legacy founded by Charlie Boyd Sr., his father, and his father’s father.
Boyd Beef Cattle is a fifth-generation family business based in May’s Lick. They raise registered Hereford and Angus cattle, and the work they do has influenced both breeds on the national level.
“My grandfather and great-grandfather had horned Herefords over in Minerva,” said Charlie. “When my mom and dad married, they branched out on their own and bought the place in May’s Lick in 1973.”
“I remember as a kid we’d always go to May’s Lick Mill. At that time, we raised most of our feed. We’d always take it to May’s Lick Mill to grind and bag it. At least twice a week, and almost always on Saturday. If you wanted to see anybody in May’s Lick, more than likely they were at the mill on Saturday. You got your feed and you got to see all your neighbors.”
In the 45 years since they came to May’s Lick, Boyd Beef Cattle has grown from a dozen registered cows and a bull into an operation with more than 300 head.
"The Boyds are great people to work with,” said Ronald Lawrence, the manager at May’s Lick Mill. “They are so precise on what they do – they know their plan, and they get it right from the beginning. Mr. Boyd (Charlie Boyd Sr.) gave me a lot of encouragement over the years. A lot of knowledge on doing things right.”
Charlie II credits both the customer service at May’s Lick Mill and quality of Hinton Mills’ feed for keeping their business as they’ve grown.
“There are three arms in our business that are critical: genetics, feed and nutrition,” said Charlie. “If one of those three critical areas doesn’t work to bring the other two in, then the chain is broken. It doesn’t matter how good our genetics are, if the nutrition doesn’t maximize that genetic potential, then it won’t work. That’s where dealing with May’s Lick Mill has been critical to our success. That consistency from week to week is vital. We know that every delivery, it’s going to be the same as it was the past trip.”
Generations of Success
Not every business can say that generation after generation feels the pull to return, but Charlie II’s sons Blake and Logan, are both actively involved. This is where the influence of their close-knit family, especially the late Charlie Boyd Sr., becomes very clear.
“The glass was always half-full,” said Charlie II about his dad. “We never dwelled on anything negative. The sun will always come up tomorrow. That’s important, because if you always look at things in a positive light, then it will be positive. That’s a unique attribute.”
“From some of my earliest memories, we’d be out riding around in a farm truck,” said Blake. “Those were some of my greatest teaching moments -- more than anything I ever learned in a classroom. He was my greatest teacher.”
“I think something that probably described him (Charlie Sr.) was a continuous pursuit for excellence,” he also said. “Make every generation better than the last -- whether it’s family or cattle -- make sure it keeps getting better. That was his passion, so every minute of it was enjoyable.
“I think Charlie (Sr.) would best be remembered as a mentor for so many, not only for his children,” said Martha, “but for other young people and those in the cattle business. It’s not something you can just say – OK, you’re going to be involved with the cattle and the farm. You can’t make children, grandchildren want to do this. That’s something they just learn, and it’s something I’m very thankful for.”
Another key to the multi-generational success of the Boyds may lie in their care for the community, another value they share with Hinton Mills.
“Any family-run business that’s dedicated to success understands that their neighbors are their most important customers,” said Charlie. “And if you take care of your neighbors like they’re your family, you’ll have a successful business because of those relationships.”
“That’s the unique part about Hinton Mills,” he said. “The people that work there -- it’s a family atmosphere. You’re really not a customer, everybody works together. They don’t treat you any differently than they would one another.”
As for the future?
“We’ll continue to grow,” said Charlie, “but not at the expense of quality.”
“In our operation as well as in Hinton’s, my grandfather and father – they did it for the next generation,” he said. “Every day, when I get up, any successes we have, I feel like those are successes for Blake and Logan. They’re not my successes, it’s for them.”