Interview With Our Founder

An Interview with Alex Heine, North 40 Co-Founder

What’s your background in the cattle industry?

I grew up on a multi-generational cattle and farming operation in Northeast Nebraska just south of Yankton, SD. Today the 3rd and 4th generations work together to raise crops and custom-feed cattle. My family has always looked for innovation and sustainability in our operation that put animal health and well-being first. Ultimately, we are raising beef and want to make sure our customers are enjoying a great experience. We love sharing our operation, story, and beef with anyone that’s interested. This has had a huge impact on me growing up and that’s why I love sharing our beef with others today.

How did North 40 Start?

Logan and I both attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln together to study Animal Science. Our friendship grew over many conversations and our passion for the cattle industry, entrepreneurship in Rural America, and our desire to serve customers the best beef-eating experience. I always wanted to create more transparency with our consumers through a direct beef brand. I knew we were raising top-tier beef and wanted to share that. Since 2010, Logan explored a less familiar breed at the time, Wagyu, and crossed it with his Angus herd. We both knew raising and serving American Wagyu beef would give us a great opportunity to differentiate our offering while providing consumers with a new experience. Logan has since built upon his Purebred Wagyu cattle herd using some of the best genetics across the country. This was our foundation to start with. We then jointly started North 40 Beef in January 2018 with a direct sales strategy through our website

Why did you start this?

I started North 40 Beef with Logan because we both knew the amazing product we were producing. In today’s modern beef complex, the average Midwest commercial cattleman is raising high-quality beef and it keeps getting better. Today more beef is graded upper choice and prime than ever before but we are largely still treating beef as a commodity. We wanted to change that by testing with our own direct-to-consumer brand. We started by hand selecting the best animals from our herd. We built a marketplace, and created a brand, ensuring quality and consistency as the focal point of our beef. I prioritized this venture because so many people would ask for our “home-raised beef”. Aside from selling some sides of beef here and there my response was “go to your local grocery store meat case”. Those questions grew as the consumer demanded better access to high-quality beef straight from our farm. Those responses began to inspire me which was the feedback Logan and I needed to take the plunge and start a brand. Today, consumers can access our website and experience our beef anytime.

What makes North 40 different?

Our process. Earlier, I described how the beef industry is getting so good but it’s still treated much like a commodity. The best place to get a good steak in the Midwest is Costco (I’m guilty of buying it there too) but the problem is the consumer needs to age it and cut it up on their own. Moreover, You don’t know where it’s coming from. It could be one of the thousands of beef operations that send their cattle through a plant and it just ends up as a commodity. No different from another farm. With North 40, it comes directly from one farm with one standard.

This is also a luxury product that is accessible to the everyday consumer. Our craft butchers prepare our amazing consistent product and do all the necessary aging, hand cutting, and USDA inspections. When these steaks are in a restaurant, they are $100 steaks. We provide content to help you cook your own restaurant-quality steak at home. My wife Emily and I say it all the time when eating our beef.

Why are you in the beef industry?

I’m in the beef industry because that’s what my family knows. We’ve been custom-raising beef for over 70 years and directly involved in agriculture for well over 100 years. This is an incredible industry that I plan to continue serving. As a co-owner of North 40 and with some of my professional experience post-college, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with a lot of customers. I’m seeing the beef industry through new lenses and looking for ways to serve our customers.

Contact Alex