Kenny Monfort, born November 22, 1928 in Greeley, Colo., was the son of Warren Monfort, who, along with William D. Farr, pioneered the development of feedlots that made well-fed cattle available to packers year-round instead of only in the fall when traditionally the cattle were rounded up.

Like father like son, Monfort developed a passion and business-minded approach to the cattle-feeding business early in his life. At the age of 11, he made a tenfold profit when he showed the Grand Champion Hereford Steer at the 1941 National Western Stock Show. By 1951, Monfort had received a degree in agriculture from Colorado State University and was back full-time to the family business, which had grown to a capacity of 8,000 head. Under his leadership, Monfort then expanded the business to a 32,000 head capacity feedyard, making it one of the largest in the United States. By 1968, Monfort operated the largest feedyard in the world with 100,000 head of cattle.

Before it became a popular catchphrase, Monfort understood the meaning of “gate to plate,” and put it into practice when, in 1960, he purchased a finishing facility in Greeley, Colo., to be closer to ranchers and feedlots. Five years later, the Monforts added a fabrication process to the plant. The decision enabled Monfort Beef to cut carcasses at the plant and ship boxed beef to restaurants and grocery stores. Moving harvesting facilities to the source of cattle and cutting and boxing beef before it was shipped significantly cut meat production costs and was soon adopted as an industry standard. The invention of boxed beef also improved meat quality and increased food safety for consumers.

In 1969, Monfort Beef processed more than 645,000 lambs and 330,000 cattle. The company also acquired its first major distributor, Mapelli Brothers Food Distribution Co., and started a transportation operation, completing Monfort’s control of the entire meat production process.

In 1970, he was named the Chief Executive Officer of Monfort Beef, and the company sourced $16 million in stock offerings, making it publicly owned for the first time. It was renamed Monfort of Colorado, Inc.

As CEO, Monfort built a second 100,000-head feedlot near Gilcrest, Colo., expanded the Greeley harvesting facility, and added a new line of consumer portion food products to the established boxed beef business. Under his guidance, Monfort of Colorado, Inc. became a Fortune 500 company and was sold in May 1987 to ConAgra Foods, Inc. After the sale, ConAgra formed ConAgra Red Meat Companies, which Kenny oversaw until he retired in 1989.

In addition to being a beef industry icon, Monfort also was a generous philanthropist and member of his community. He was named the Citizen of the West in 1991 by the National Western Stock Show for his efforts.

"[Kenny’s] heritage lives on in the industry he molded, the family foundation he helped endow, the four children he adored, the thousands who had a job as a result of his work, the scores who were inspired by being associated with him," says his longtime friend and colleague Senator Hank Brown in a foreword from the book called "Kenny’s Shoes."

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