Victoria Harker Philips
Lombardi Brothers Meats
Location: Denver, CO
Industry: Meat fabricator and purveyor
Victoria Harker Philips took over as CEO of Lombardi Brothers Meats in 2011 and didn’t like what she found at the company.
She described a company in financial distress with distrusting employees working in a 60-year-old building in need of repairs. The building — and the company — needed an overhaul.
“For many months we referred to our situation as a lifeboat with no oars,” she said. “We worked tirelessly to find our ‘oars’ and eventually we all started rowing in the same direction.
When faced with difficult circumstances and competing priorities, I’ve learned it’s best to just jump in headfirst, get your hands dirty and get your company aligned to all row in the same direction.”
Today, those struggles are old news. Sales have increased 45% since that time and new products have added additional streams of revenue. At its core, though, Lombardi Brothers Meats remains a high-quality meat fabricator and Colorado-wide wholesale meat distributor. Established in 1947, Lombardi Brothers Meats has built a sophisticated clientele. It services the finest hotels, restaurants, resorts and country clubs across Colorado, providing quality aged beef as well as other “center of the plate” meats to establishments.
In 1986 the company was selected as Colorado’s exclusive Certified Angus Beef distributor. Known for its generous marbling and legendary flavor, the Certified Angus Beef Brand has become a symbol for consistent quality. Each cut must meet 10 quality standards to earn the brand’s recognized name and logo. Additionally, it has served as the original, and very best, brand of Angus Beef since 1978. “It is ultimately our beef cutters that bring art and skill to each cut of meat,” the company said. “With years of experience and watchful attention to detail, they can transform an average cut of meat into a sensory sensation. Hand cut, trimmed and fabricated on our premises, each order deserves special attention.”
Philips grew up in the meat industry. Her father was a successful entrepreneur in the industry, growing a large company in Northwest Iowa. After he sold his company in the 1980s, one of the next owners purchased Lombardi Brothers Meats. Philips and other family members bought back their original family business, which then included Lombardi Brothers Meats. In 2011, Philips and her family moved to Denver to take over Lombardi Brothers Meats full time, saving it from potential bankruptcy, she said.
“We retained several long-term employees, and the culture of the company grew to a sense of community and family,” Philips said. “We reevaluated and improved employee benefits, which hadn’t been done in many years, and incorporated culture-building activities to improve morale and aesthetics.”
Lombardi Brothers Meats also launched several new products and services, creating new income streams that have grown over the last three years. Duke’s Dog Treats is one of the company’s sustainability programs gaining potential for increased sales. Instead of throwing away small bits of high-grade steak trim as waste, the company uniformly cuts, dehydrates and packages these into 100% beef dog treats.
There are plans to open a retail store where non-wholesale customers can buy the same meat they get at restaurants. The company is also remodeling its office space and will add a test kitchen where salespeople can showcase the products. Cooking classes, tasting events and wine pairings are also in the works.
“I get excited to look at the possibilities of my company over the next several years as we hope to build on and expand the changes and additions to several income streams we’ve created,” Philips said.
"I've learned it's best to just jump in headfirst, get your hands dirty and get your company aligned to all row in the same direction."