By RON WILSON
Kansas State University
Build a better beef. It’s one of the goals of an innovative Kansas entrepreneur who uses a unique breed of cattle and careful quality control to create a remarkable beef-drinking experience for consumers.
Dave Dreiling is the founder and owner of Booth Creek Wagyu. As we described earlier, Dave is a successful entrepreneur who studied business at K-State. He met and married Kristen Spaeth. Dave founded GTM, the sportswear company, and also owns many restaurants.
In 2008, he purchased a ranch in Pottawatomie County primarily for deer hunting. Over the years he expanded the property, now known as Booth Creek Ranch. Meanwhile, Dareiling’s uncle was raising greyhounds near Abilene and had also begun raising beef cattle, including cows that had been mated to a bull of a Japanese breed known as Wagyu.
“We had some of that beef and fell in love with it,” Dreiling said. They found it particularly tender and tasty. Dreiling went to his uncle’s scatter sale with the intention of buying an animal, but ended up buying four pure-blood Wagyu embryos and 28 Wagyu. “My intention was to buy a few heads to have good beef for family and friends,” he said.
The more Dreiling learned about Wagyu, the more convinced he became of the breed’s potential and opportunities to improve beef consumption. “There aren’t many Wagyu producers,” he said. “One was a cattle ranching company in California that would ship them to Kansas to be fed and then send them back to be processed.”
“Kansas is a better place to raise cattle,” Dreiling said. “Why couldn’t we do this here, all along?”
Thus, Booth Creek Wagyu became the foundation for a vertically integrated beef production operation, from genetics and production through processing, sales and distribution. This would ensure quality control throughout the process.
They purchased a meat processing business, now known as MeatWorks, from Riley. In March 2022, they opened a Booth Creek Wagyu retail store and sample kitchen in east Manhattan.
What makes Wagyu beef exceptional? “It’s all about the marbling, which contributes to the taste and tenderness,” Dreiling said. “Then I came across the health benefits. Most fats are unsaturated. Wagyu beef is higher in omega 3 and 6 than salmon and lower in cholesterol than chicken.
“I heard our store was a beef jewelry store because we have a lot of choices,” Dreiling said.
Booth Creek Wagyu sells cuts of beef at Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels, with higher levels featuring higher amounts of marbling. USDA Prime beef contains 8-12% IMF, while a Platinum Pureblood Wagyu contains 26% or more IMF. “It makes for a rich steak, so people might not eat as much of it,” Dreiling said.
“Wagyu is like coffee these days – people have a lot of different preferences. Some want a dark roast, others a lighter roast, and no one is wrong. Some (beef eaters) prefer more tenderness and others want less fat.
He designed a camera system that takes an electronic image of each cut of meat, and the image is transmitted to Japan for grading. “We know where every steak comes from and how it ranks,” Dreiling said.
The Booth Creek Wagyu store includes a sample kitchen so people can decide what level of marbling they prefer. “We want to help people choose the type of beef they like,” Dreiling said.
His intention is to build on the Manhattan store and open other Wagyu stores and sample kitchens in the region and around the country.
All of the store’s Wagyu beef comes from the Booth Creek Ranch, located near the rural community of Olsburg, which is home to 219 people. Now it’s rural.
For more information, visit www.boothcreekwagyu.com.
Can beef be better? It has become a passion for this Kansas entrepreneur. We commend Dave Dreiling and everyone involved with Booth Creek Wagyu for making a difference with innovative production and marketing. We’re glad he specializes in making better beef.