AW Meat House - Meat The Wells Family

Lori Jude

Located just minutes off the Industrial Parkway sits AW Meat House––a local business owned and operated by area native Tyler Wells. 

“Growing up, most of my Friday nights were spent at the Catlettsburg stock yard. My grandfather would take me and that’s how I started. I was on a budget, and I couldn’t wait for there to be that one animal I was looking for.  I would buy a steer and then my family would let me run it on their land until I could sell it as beef,” Wells said.

Wells always dreamt of having a big farm with lots of cattle.  He says he would work odd jobs, and save up as much money as he could to buy more cattle.

“It’s a passion I’ve had since a young age,” he said.

As time went on, Wells received his degree in food sciences from the University of Kentucky. 

“In high school, I was involved with the Futures Farmers of America (FFA) and received a partial scholarship through them before I went to UK.”

His junior year in college, Wells took a course called Introduction to Meat Science where he says they teach you everything you need to know on a small scale. “It’s like a crash course in butchery and it was in that moment I knew I could do this.  I knew one day that I was going to farm and open a butcher shop.”

After college, Wells took jobs that landed him in Mt. Sterling, Louisville and eventually working back home at Marathon Oil Refinery until he opened the meat house in May of 2022. 

“Life got busy for a while, so I put farming on the backburner,” said Wells, “but once the pandemic hit, that’s when this all came together.” He purchased 250 acres and leased 300 more right where Boyd, Carter and Greenup Counties all meet. 

“I was working at Marathon all day and farming at night, and since there was a beef shortage during the pandemic, I was getting lots of requests for meat,” he said.

During that time the state offered funding, grants and forgivable loans which would make it possible for someone to enter the farming market.  Wells qualified for a forgivable loan that would get him started.

“Between June of 2020 and May of 2022, I was formulating my plan for this.  I even went and talked to my former meat science professor,” Wells said.

Wells also worked with KCARD––a free business development resource. 

“They helped me with my business plans.  It’s been a roller coaster and continually proves to be a big, huge science experiment because we have to continually go back, check, adjust, and theorize how and why we can make our process better.”

In addition to raising his own cattle, Wells buys calves direct from farmers.

“The farmers will call me when their calves are ready. We vaccinate and do all the proper animal husbandry to make sure the animal will be healthy without steroid and antibiotics, and that’s the benefit of buying them direct. We want to make sure the animals we are harvesting are treated properly.”

The optimum age to harvest is two years, and the meat house will process between 2500-3500 head per year.  There are several different paddocks where Wells keeps different size animals because he’s trying to build a pipeline in order to increase production. 

The meat house is a one-stop-shop equipped with everything one needs for preparing meat. From seasonings to fire starters to snacks, and all the different cuts of meat one could think of, there is surely something there for everyone. 

“Our biggest favorite is ribeye,” Wells said.  “I’m also working on perfecting a hotdog and beef bacon.  People love the freshness of all the meat.”

Between butchers, people on the packaging side, folks that operate the grinders and individuals that operate the store, the meat house currently has approximately 22 employees.

“We went overboard on making sure this facility was designed hygienically and that we had the right tools, a clean environment and the best team in the TriState.” 

“A handful of our staff are part-time high school students. We are giving them the opportunity to get real life experience and learn a skill that has become a lost trade,” Wells said. “There used to be butchers at every grocery store and now most meat comes pre-packaged to most big box stores.”

As Wells and his team continue to improve their USDA inspected top-notch facility, eventually he wants to become a wholesaler and operate a distribution center. 

“There are lots of possibilities in the future.”

Wells says he’s excited to see what the future hold for him and his family.  He, his wife Laura and their four kids–Anderson, Adeline, Amelia, and Alden Wells are frequently seen operating parts of the business.

“It excites me to see my kids showing interest like I did in the business.”

Wells says he would never push it on his kids but hopes they will want to carry on the business name as they get older with their own families someday.

He says soon he wants to begin giving back more to the community in the way of fundraising and by helping to feed people who are less fortunate. 

“This whole thing has been a God-given dream placed on my heart and I never want to forget that.”