Forever Young

Shawn Buchanan, 32

All American Meats
Year Started: 1996
Based in: Omaha, Nebraska
2001 Projections: $35 million

Back in his professional baseball days, Shawn Buchanan earned his pay on the field. But he made his millions in the locker. The meat locker.

After six years on the diamond, Buchanan made a 180-degree turn straight into the meat business. "As far as being an entrepreneur, it's in my blood-my dad had a machine shop," says Buchanan, who, at 28, decided to change careers. "The funny thing is the only thing I knew about meat or beef was that I enjoyed a good steak."

It all started when Buchanan met Bill Hughes, CEO of Nebraska Beef and the father of one of the players Buchanan coached in youth baseball. Intrigued by Hughes' business, Buchanan took a job selling Hughes' product in 1995.

Buchanan took no salary as a management trainee at Nebraska Beef in return for Hughes' teaching him about the business, and continued working for no salary when he started his own company, All American Meats in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1996. The money Buchanan saved up from his baseball career helped him through thin times when his only income was from youth coaching. "I learned how to operate and survive in a lean and mean situation," he says.

Buchanan now takes in about $35 million in annual sales, and his education, on and off the field, is paying off. So, how's the meat business different from baseball?

"It's a lot harder, but even more fulfilling, because it's not just about me and my family," he says of wife Kelli and his two daughters. "I'm accountable for a minimum of 40 families now. That's what gives me the desire to continue and grow." -Mike Besack

Entrepreneur: Are you surprised about your chosen career path?
Shawn Buchanan: I'm not really surprised. Normally when I go after something, I'm totally committed to it. It's not about me; it's the people I've been able to associate with in the industry that have allowed me to grow.

Entrepreneur: Can you divulge your secret on how you got so big so fast, after starting basically from scratch?
Buchanan: I'd have to say persistence first of all, and lots of patience. I know the two may seem like they don't go together, but they do. Most people need instant gratification these days. I'm a firm believer in the work ethic and that you have to earn your stripes.

Entrepreneur: In what other ways does your background help your business approach?
Buchanan: I really feel that my sports background enhances my business activity, as far as a teamwork atmosphere and having everyone committed to a goal. We don't have any superstars, just a lot of people who make the routine plays.

Contact Sources

  • All American Meats
    (402) 734-6901
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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Forever Young.

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