SIGEL, Pa. – “I thought it might be a stupid idea at the time,” said Sigel resident Douglas Lockwood about the start of Lockwood Processing seven years ago.
“We did 27 deer that year and made 1,200 bucks extra Christmas money. I would’ve never thought that seven years later that we would do over 500 deer last year, 40 some cows already this year, and 80 some pigs.”
It was only two years ago when Lockwood decided to go full-time with processing, quitting his seven-year job with Abraxas.
Lockwood was always good at cutting deer, and a friend suggested throwing out a sign in front of his house, and it all went from there. His business is flourishing behind his home, where he processes everything. He is buying property beside his house and plans to build a retail store in the front and new processing space in the back.
“My parents, Greg and Dottie Lockwood, in Hawthorn, support me in everything I do. They are the best parents I could ever ask for, but since I’ve started this — and I’ve had a lot of dumb ideas in my life, and my dad’s pretty much told me I have a lot of dumb ideas — with the support they’ve given me with this, they knew it was something special.”
Lockwood thinks locally processed meat tastes better because you know where it comes from, and that’s how it is marketed: No additives. No preservatives. Everything’s all naturally raised.
He added that everything is locally raised.
“People know that I ordered this cow, and they know what day it comes in here. It hangs for a week to 10 days. They know it’s cut right here, and as soon as it’s cut and finished, I’m calling. Some people show up, and it’s not even frozen yet. They’re getting it and taking it right home. I mean, they’re so happy and excited about it. It’s as fresh as you can get, and fresh is the name of the game.”
When COVID-19 first hit, Lockwood was worried that he would have to close his doors.
“When this virus first started, I thought I would have to close the doors and go get a job because all my orders canceled. Everybody panicked because they didn’t know what was going to go on, and then it completely turned 180 degrees with supermarkets running out of food, and everything was high-priced. People decided ‘I’m not standing in line to get one or two pounds of burger.’ Business has been blowing off the charts since then.
“I’m scheduled clear to next year already. I shut down the cows and pigs during deer season because I make more money on deer than I do cows. I tell all my people that, and they all understand, so they all schedule everything in before that and then right after. We’ve been running 12 months a year.
Lockwood has built a clientele of customers and friends. Individuals who he has met through the deer seasons are now also customers of beef and pigs. Some of his customers even come from Pittsburgh and Ohio who have camped in the Cook Forest area.
“I’m going to be honest. If you’re a farmer, you ain’t making any money. If you are breaking even, you’re lucky. You’re not in it to make money; you’re putting the money back into your farm.
“It’s the same way here. I get my bills paid, and as you can see, I’m not running around with a brand new truck or have a big fancy house. It’s enough for my daughter and me, and I can do that.”