The story of Pat Montgomery’s life has been in large part one of serving others in different ways. After serving as an Army Ranger and then earning a degree in animal science at the University of Missouri, he started the KC Cattle Company, working to employ veterans and provide quality food for people.
Montgomery’s time in the Army was marked by growth and lessons learned, but also by tragedy. But all those experiences led to his work raising cattle and selling beef.
He started the KC Cattle Company in 2016, wanting to sell directly to consumers and build connections.
“What I noticed was a huge disconnect between the ag community and the people who eat in this country,” he says.
Montgomery sells direct to consumer and has a website (kccattlecompany.com) for online orders. He also has a store in Parkville, Missouri, and his beef is available in grocery stores.
He raises cattle on a ranch at Weston, Missouri, north of Kansas City, and contracts with growers in a few other states.
He wanted to provide a high-quality product, and decided raising Wagyu beef would help him do that.
“If I was going to sell a product at a premium, my customers had better be able to taste the difference,” Montgomery says.
He initially wanted to go to veterinary school after college, but after shadowing at a vet clinic for 6 months he decided to go another route, unsure if he could make a vet school bill pencil out while working with large animals. He decided to start raising cattle.
Although Montgomery did not grow up on a farm, he did grow up in rural Missouri around lots of cattle.
“I figured you’re only young and dumb once,” he says. “Might as well.”
Montgomery was accustomed to making big changes and decisions. In 2010, after a year of attending college at Northwest Missouri State University and serving in the ROTC, he decided to drop out of college and enlist in the military. He ultimately decided to become an Army Ranger, due to the influence of his brother-in-law, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Katzenberger, who served as a Ranger.
Montgomery says the Rangers can be the “red-headed step child” of the special operations military community, but he learned and grew a lot serving with them. There were challenges, he says, such as the political wrangling that can surround the military, as well as the sometimes-grinding life of being a soldier. Montgomery served in the 1st Ranger Battalion, which was based out of Savannah, Georgia. He was deployed to Afghanistan, seeing a lot of action there.
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“It was busy,” he says. “We were basically running a lot of operations.”
It took a toll losing fellow soldiers overseas, especially when his brother-in-law, Katzenberger, was killed in action after several tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“That was tough,” Montgomery says. “That changed me.”
He says members of the military often experience a lot at a relatively young age.
“You join the military at 18 or 20 years old, and you’re doing very grown up things,” Montgomery says.
Amidst his grief, Montgomery decided to become the best version of himself to honor his brother-in-law. He pressed on with his new endeavors, supported by his family. Montgomery and his wife Kaleigh have four kids.
He applied the training, determination and hard work he learned in the Army to his cattle company.
“Ranger school is the best leadership school in the world,” Montgomery says.
He worked to raise quality food for people, to raise the best cattle he could, and to employ as many veterans as he could in his company.
Montgomery says being a Ranger taught him to adapt — a person might have the best plan in the world, but when the bullets start flying, how do you respond?
He carries the memory of those he served with alongside him, carries the experience of being an Army Ranger and serving his country. He signs emails with the acronym RLTW, “Rangers Lead The Way.”
He says his military service gives him perspective raising cattle and selling beef.
“Even when you have a stressful day, nobody’s trying to take your life,” he says.
Even when he has challenging days, days buried in Excel spreadsheets dealing with the business side or facing the obstacles of raising cattle, Montgomery says his job has rewards as well.
“That bad day can turn around real quick when you’re experiencing some sunshine and being around cattle,” he says.