Beef QualityAssurance ’17 Marketer Award
It’s an honor traditionally given to sale barns, but this year, IMI Global, a third-party verification company from Castle Rock, Colo., was awarded the Beef Quality Assurance 2017 Marketer Award.
The company is more than 20 years old, founded by John and Leann Saunders, who have grown and continued their work to help connect beef producers to consumers.
When John and Leann started the business, John served as the CEO and Leann as the COO and president. For the first handful of years John was the main full-time person at the company and Leann also worked at the former PM Beef processing plant — which closed down in 2015 — until September 2003, when she started to work full-rime at IMI Global.
The couple’s backgrounds were able to morph into the company. John grew up on a small farm in Ohio before going to Yale. He wanted to have his own business, Leann said. It was just a matter of finding what kind he wanted to run.
Leann also has an ag background, growing up and working on her father’s cow/calf operation in southwest Colorado. Her father still ranches, but now in New Mexico.
Leann went to Colorado State University earning an agricultural business degree and also a master’s in beef industry leadership.
A UNIQUE MARKETER
When the company started, it went by Integrated Management Information, but website problems led the team to simply go by IMI Global. The company’s client base is mostly in the U.S., with some work done in Canada, Mexico and South America.
When Leann joined full-time in 2003 the focus on IMI Global was on helping producers bounce back when other countries blocked U.S. imports.
“The catalyst at the time, for the growth in our business was when we had our incidents of BSE (better known as mad cow disease) in the states and we lost our export markets, and needed to try to find a way to get back into those markets,” Leann said.
Since then, the company works towards not only helping producers meet the demands of consumers, but they make sure there’s an emphasis on the value of the beef products, as well.
“They go through and watch cattle being processed and they record how many slips there are coming out of a shoot, those kinds of things,” said Libby Bigler, BQA coordinator for Colorado. “And those are all in the BQA checklist, which IMI Global is one of the very first verification companies to really promote BQA as a third-party verification program.”
Although IMI Global doesn’t fit the traditional mold for the BQA marketer award, the way IMI Global promotes and markets BQA standards is done in a way that outshines BQA in a way, she said.
“(IMI Global) offers a unique way to promote people’s cattle through the BQA program, which BQA has kind of been lacking in, I would say,” Bigler said. “We do BQA all the time and we get people certified, and everyone does the right thing … but it’s something we don’t really verify, we don’t push up the supply chain for other companies.”
For IMI Global, Leann’s focus always comes down to the customer and their needs.
“They’re really dedicated to BQA in making it a foundational level of other programs and being able to help producers who do other verification programs, kind of take BQA,” Bigler said. ❖
— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at (970) 392-4410, sfox@thefencepost or on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.