Family Is Backbone Of Four-generation Meat Business

Garvicks Slaughter, Wrap, Sell Products

March 24, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

DEEP RUN — Collecting a paycheck from anyone but a family member is unheard of for the Garvicks.

The family meat business is a tradition, an institution, their heritage. It's what they do, how they live and what's important.

Four generations of Garvicks have worked in the business that great-grandfather Ira Garvick founded in the 1920s. Garvick's Meat Market & Farms Inc. has grown and changed since, but the family remains the force behind it.

Every day, his son, Leroy, Leroy's son and daughter, an in-law and three great-grandsons work together -- for a longtime.

"At 5 o'clock in the morning things are hopping around there. It's the same thing at 10 at night," said C. Richard Weaver, a family friend and agriculture teacher at North Carroll High School.

"They work at it. It makes them successful," he said.

The market and one of the family's farms are on Band Hall Hill Road, near the Pennsylvania line. Animals are slaughtered and the meat cut, cured, smoked and sold -- all in one building.

Wednesday afternoon, as he has done thousands of times before, Leroy, 68, stood cutting meat in the workroom, which is visible from the store through a window behind the meat cases.

When Leroy's father ran the business, he sold meat from a truck on what was called a "huckster route." The store opened in the late 1960s.

Over his frayed plaid flannel shirt, Leroy wearsa white jacket stained with blood and fat as he cuts up the liver ofa steer that was slaughtered last week.

The family members and neighbors who work part-time alongside him talk and laugh as they cut. They are oblivious to the heavy smell of fresh meat that saturates the air.

Every bit of meat is put to use. Less-choice cuts are made into sausage or hamburger; bones and fat go to a rendering plant.

"I like liver, but I wouldn't want to eat it every day," Leroy said, as his knife slides smoothly through the dark meat. "I eat a lot of steak."

That morning, his son, Nevin, 47, Nevin's son, Michael, andan employee slaughtered steers and hogs in a room off the workroom.

Under the watchful eye of a state inspector, the animals are brought in one at a time and shot with a stun gun. Their throats are slit,they're skinned, the rib cage is cut and the carcasses washed.

The carcasses then are stored hanging from the ceiling in a cooler keptat 30 degrees. The meat chills for a week to 10 days before it's cut. The process breaks down tissue, which makes the meat more tender, Leroy said.

They slaughter 15 to 20 animals a week.

Besides slaughtering steers and hogs they raise, the Garvicks kill animals other people raise and cut meat to order.

Catherine Jane Zincon of Westminster can't remember how many years she's been buying meat from the Garvicks. She keeps coming back because the meat is fresher than whatshe can buy in a grocery store, and she can get special cuts, such as pork backbones and ribs.

James Ealy of Spring Grove, Pa., said, "The hamburger you can't beat. Once you buy it from them, you don't want to get it anywhere else."

The Garvicks farm about 2,200 acres,half in Pennsylvania, where they grow grains and vegetables.

Leroy's daughter, Brenda Cornbower, 35, wearing a hair net and a heavy plastic apron over her white jacket, uses both hands to lift an electric saw onto a quarter-side of beef sitting on a counter in the workroom. She finds the right spot, turns on the saw, and cuts cleanly through the bone. Her father taught her how to cut meat.

"I was almostborn into it," she said.

Joyce Garvick, Nevin's wife of 26 years,also has never worked anywhere but the family business. She wraps the meat in white paper, tapes and labels it after Brenda and others have cut it.

Joyce said she didn't grow up on a farm, but her grandparents were farmers and her father was a hunter. She said she "just went right into" the business.

Her sons, Brian, 25, and Michael, 21, work full-time with the family. Brian is married and lives in a trailer behind the equipment storage building. Michael lives with his parents in a farmhouse in front of the store. The youngest son, Scott, 16, is a sophomore at North Carroll High.

Brenda, her husband and their 3-year-old son live in Pennsylvania about two miles from the business. Leroy and his wife, Bernice, also live nearby.

Because a family business involves so much closeness, it also involves compromise.

"You've got to give a lot and take a lot," Nevin said. "Sometimes we fight. But it's just one telling the other what he thinks."

Brian, who looks most like his father because he has a beard, said his father never pushed him into joining the business.

"I'm doing what I want to do -- raise hogs," he said, as he and Michael repaired farm equipment in the storage building late Wednesday afternoon. Country music emanated from a radio, and the family dog lolled outside in the sun.

Scott said he hasn't considered work outside the family business. After school, he works in the barn, the fields and the store.

"I like this," he said.

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