Bartels Farms

Family Story

The Bartels family has been a presence in the Livestock and Meat Packing industry since 1898 bringing four generations of knowledge and experience to your family's table. Bartels Farms is owned and operated by fourth generation businessman, Chris Bartels and his wife, Kandi Bartels.

First Generation

bartels_meat_marketJohn and Teresa Bartels immigrated from Germany in 1895 and settled in Bartelsville, Oklahoma where other family members had already set up residence. John, who was considered a sausage maker, began working in the family owned meat market /ice house in 1896 and perfected the art of blending the spice combinations that have been handed down through each generation. John would be proud to know his great grandson, Chris, has earned accolades for the flavor and freshness of his own sausage products and has applied this knowledge to the blending process for fresh ground beef, producing a consistent and flavorful product. John and Teresa later branched out on their own, relocating to Coffeeville, Kansas where they opened their own meat market and after a few short months, thought it was best to relocate after the Dalton gang was killed in the alley behind their store. He and Teresa finally settled in Portland, Oregon in 1898 and set up shop on Front Street (currently Naito Parkway) and ran the market until 1908, the year they moved to Cottage Grove, Oregon and built a slaughter house on the edge of town.

Second Generation

2nd_gen William "Bill" Bartels, Sr., who was born in a covered wagon while crossing the Great Plains, continued operating the slaughter house in Cottage Grove, Oregon following the death of his father. In 1915, Bill and his wife, Julia, opened a Meat Market on Main Street, which they ran until the 1950's. To survive the "great depression" and the subsequent bank closures, Bill's resourcefulness and ingenuity compelled him to create his own form of currency by bartering his meat products in exchange for lumber from the local saw mills. He hired carpenters and craftsmen to build housing and an estimated 300 homes were built, contributing to the survival of the Cottage Grove community. Throughout that timeframe it is amusing to know he kept the bartering ledger in his shirt pocket and "luckily" married a woman who "checked pockets" before doing laundry! Bill and Julia also supplied the government with meat for the Civilian Conservation Corp in five Western states. Bill's claim to fame was supplying the meat for the production cast and crew of "The Great Train Robbery" filmed in Cottage Grove and starring Buster Keaton. Apparently, Bill didn't feel he had enough irons in the fire, and decided to acquire all of the Bohemia and Evening Star mining claims on Bohemia Mountain and oversaw the mining operations (which, frankly, was his true passion) while his wife Julia served as cook to the mining crew. Throughout their lives, they were honored guests at every Bohemia Mining Days event and Bill was an extra during the filming of "Animal House." In 1978, Bill and Julia, residents of Cottage Grove for more than 60 years, received the community's top civic awards; Bill received the First Citizen Award and Julia received Woman of the Year award for their long dedication to public service.

Third Generation

3rd_gen_uso William "Bill" Bartels, Jr., the only child born to Bill and Julia, grew up in Cottage Grove, Oregon. When he was just 16 years old his father became very ill and Bill, Jr., faced with running the slaughter house and meat market on his own, soon mastered the trade. When his father recovered, Bill, Jr., attended the University of Oregon where he played football on the 1941 squad as a linebacker and punter and was nicknamed the "Golden Toe" due to his punting accuracy. On December 8, 1941, in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the entire football squad headed over to the United States Marine Corp. recruiting office and enlisted. Bill completed boot camp and graduated 3rd in his class from Officers' Candidate School and offered to stay on as an instructor from 1942 through 1945. Bill was chosen and honored to serve as a pallbearer at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral. At the end of the War, he was sent to the South Pacific and while there, set eyes upon Kay Cook, an actress and entertainer on a USO Tour with MGM. Upon discharge at the end of World War II, he and Kay were married and the glamorous life Kay was accustomed to came to an abrupt halt. She suddenly found herself immersed in Bill's world, living in the tiny rural town of Cottage Grove and became the Bohemia mining camp cook for over 100 dirty, cranky and hungry hard rock miners. 3rd_genIn, 1949, Bill was called back into active duty serving a one-year tour in Korea and leaving his wife and two young children behind.

At the end of his tour he returned to the family business running the Meat Market, Slaughter Plant and Bohemia Mines simultaneously, because like his father (Bill, Sr.) he too didn't feel he had enough irons in the fire! In 1959 he purchased a 300 acre Ranch that is now owned by his son, Chris and daughter-in-law, Kandi. He built his own meat plant adjacent to the Ranch and opened its doors for business in 1962. For the next 30 years Bartels Meat Company provided a profitable living, with the help of his growing family, Susan, David, Lisa and Chris. Throughout that time, Bill coached both of his sons' baseball teams and even created a baseball field on the ranch complete with spectator benches and a backstop, now overgrown with blackberry bushes. Chris' wife Kandi caught sight of the backstop one day and had a "déjà vu" moment. When she was 9 years old, she came to the ranch and watched her brothers play baseball against her future husband's team. Chris acts as though he remembers that day very clearly (not that he noticed her) but that his team "creamed" her brothers' team (typical). Bill and Kay later bought a house in Eugene and would spend time traveling and watching their families grow. Sadly, in 1990, their first son, David, who helped with the business throughout his life, passed away from multiple myeloma at the age of 42, deeply affecting the family and Bill and Kay closed the doors of Bartels Meat Company shortly thereafter. Bill Bartels passed away on December 18, 1999 and his wife, Kay, passed away February 27, 2010.

Fourth Generation and current President/CEO

Chris Bartels, the second son and last child born to Bill and Kay was raised in the ranching and meat packing world from the start. He also had a curious fascination about how the "business side" of things worked and, as a young boy, would often accompany his mother to the bank. On one visit she lost sight of him and found him standing between two businessmen negotiating a deal, quietly fixated on their every word. Around the age of 10 he was allowed to hang out with his older brother, David and his Dad learning to gather and sort cattle, process meat and cure and salt hides. He would tag along to livestock auctions where he quickly picked up the art of assessing livestock and outbidding the competition that would catapult him into an early career as a cattle buyer for some of the largest meat packers in the Pacific Northwest.

chris_young_boyChris attended Oregon State University and studied animal husbandry, but traded his education for a steady paycheck, eventually acquiring his own ranch and continuing to work for the family business. Chris' longevity in the cattle industry has allowed him to build trust with livestock producers which is an extremely important and valuable part of the equation in the cattle industry. Many were investors who assisted in re-opening of the business on October 9, 2000.

His experience in all facets of the meat packing industry has also served him well as an employer who, clearly, has the respect of his employees. There is not one job he hires for that he hasn't already done himself. During the re-opening of the business, he would spend his days working right alongside his employees, matching their hard work, hour for hour, for as long as it took. Modeling that work ethic and providing 1:1 training has resulted in skilled and committed employees who are respected members of the Bartels Farms' Team and their hard work has been instrumental to our growth and success.

Like the 3 generations before him, Chris isn't happy unless he has 6 days of work ahead of him and 12 hours of work behind him, obviously inheriting a few qualities from each generation: the gift of being an amazing negotiator, a visionary with strong strategic planning skills and a respected business operator who has an inherent passion for all things agricultural, especially cattle management and producing quality beef.

Kandi Bartels, Executive Vice President

chris_kandi_outsideKandi is a native Oregonian who grew up on a 40 acre farm in Lorane, Oregon where the family raised a few cows, had egg laying hens and planted a yearly garden for produce. She learned to drive a tractor when she was 12 to assist with the family's custom hay business and took turns milking the family cow and selling what milk they couldn't use to local neighbors (what you could get away with in the "old" days). The cream that would separate and rise to the top was amazing!! She grew up riding horses and teaching dog obedience classes and participated with both animals in 4-H competitions. She acquired a respect and love for all animals and learned to live resourcefully off their farm. From the age of 12 to 15 she spent her summers working in the strawberry and bean fields in Cottage Grove to raise money to buy her school clothes and at the age of 16 was hired on at the "Lorane General Store" working solo where duties ranged from restocking shelves, running the cash register, counting bottle returns and even pumping gas. While her work ethic wasn't quite as aggressive as her husband's, Kandi has worked full time since the age of 18.

When she was 19 she moved to Maine where she started a family and a job at Southern Maine Medical Center and attended night classes at the University of Southern Maine. Upon returning to Oregon in 1991, she began work at Sacred Heart Hospital and continued night classes in pursuit of her bachelor's degree in Business Administration. In 1997 she joined her husband, full time, raising cattle and assisting with his livestock transport company and to have more time blending a family of 3 children from their previous marriages, Kristen, Amanda and Patrick. Kandi was hired as the Executive Director for the Fern Ridge Chamber of Commerce in 1999 and stepped down from that role when she and Chris decided to reopen the meat packing facility in October of 2000 where she was immediately immersed into the world of food safety and USDA regulations. She quickly began self educating in order to develop the HACCP and SSOP plans necessary to be granted the USDA Writ of Inspection that would allow operations to begin (no pressure there!). Dr. Wright, the USDA veterinarian assigned to their establishment at the start-up, and who has since retired, continues to provide consulting services to Bartels Farms and has been a valuable resource throughout the years.