Little by little, Will and Nicole Derting have been building their Central Washington cattle operation. But, as the couple has discovered over the past nine years, it truly is a labor of love.
The first-generation owners of Post 5 Cattle Company launched their business in 2012, leasing a feedlot in Moses Lake for seven years before shifting to a larger facility in Granger in 2019.
It has taken time, but the Dertings now have a loyal customer base that returns year after year for the premium cuts rendered from their grass-raised/grain-finished Angus cows. Now, they are trying to take their business to another level.
“We definitely want to be bigger in every aspect, from meat sales to the number of cows to our feedlots,” said Nicole, who manages the cow-calf side of the operation. “Most of all, we want people to know that their meat comes from a place like ours, where the cows are raised humanely and well cared for.”
Post 5 feeds its cows a combination of sweet corn residue, regrowth wheat, triticale and other cover crops in the Columbia Basin for nine months before transporting them to pastures in Tonasket and Roy, Wash., for the summer months. The couple also owns a finishing operation in Granger, allowing them to maintain control over their animals from birth to market.
“Our goal has always been to raise calves and have control over their whole lives before selling them as wholesale quarters, halves and wholes, or as retail cuts,” said Will, a third-generation rancher who manages the feedlots and farmland.
“We feed our cows the highest-quality feed, take care of them for their entire lives, and give our customers a product they feel good about feeding to their families,” he added. “We take a lot of pride in that, and we always want to be able to tell that story.”
Post 5 has built a reputation for quality, but the business owes much of its initial success to Will’s connection to the Washington State University football program. The former Cougar linebacker’s name recognition helped the Dertings establish a foothold in the market, while return customers and word of mouth advertising have propelled them to where they are today.
“We started out focusing on WSU alums who remembered Will from his playing days,” Nicole said. “Eventually, things just snowballed. We still have a very loyal customer base with ties to WSU, but we no longer have to rely only on them.”
Looking for another growth opportunity, the couple secured a retail location in Ephrata this fall and plans to partner with other local small businesses to create a “grown in Central Washington” theme for the store.
“Our goal is to sell more than just meat — things like seasonal produce, baked goods and fresh-cut flowers,” Nicole said. “We never really talked about opening a store, but it just feels like it was meant to be.”
It has taken nine years to get to this point, but the Dertings know in their hearts that they are in business for the right reasons. They love working with the cows and care for them like family. Along the way, the couple has created something special that they want to pass on to their three children.
“We care about the big picture, not just making money,” Will said. “The cattle industry is tough, but we both love what we do. We never want to get to where we’re not doing the work every day, because that’s been a huge part of our success.”
This story appeared in the Capital Press in December 2021.