The North Bend Eagle


Bob's Meats transition
Bob Shanahan, left, helps new manager Stuart Hircock hang wieners in preparation for smoking Thursday. Hircock took over the business formerly known as Bob’s Custom Meats on May 23, but Bob and Mary Shanahan have stuck around to help get him started.

Main Street meat business changes hands

by Nathan Arneal
Published 6/3/20

The phone rang Thursday afternoon at the butcher shop on North Bend’s Main Street.

“Bob’s Custom Meats— I mean, North Bend Locker,” Mary Shanahan said upon answering the phone.

Thirty-nine year habits are hard to break, but a transition is taking place downtown. On Saturday, May 23, Bob’s Custom Meats became North Bend Locker under the management of Stuart Hircock.

The namesake of Bob’s Custom Meats, Bob Shanahan, and his wife Mary have been looking forward to retirement, but they didn’t want to close down the business they’ve owned and operated since March 1981.

Locker ext.Hircock has already placed a new sign above the North Bend Locker, a business that can trace its roots as far back as 1938.

“It’s a tremendous service to the ag community to have locker plants available,” Bob Shanahan said. “We don’t want to see any more close.”

Then March brought the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the future in doubt for many small business, Bob’s included.

“We didn’t know how healthy we were all going to stay,” Shanahan said. “At that point we did not have a buyer on the horizon, and we contemplated closing.”

The Shanahans had been looking for prospective successors. One of the people they approached was Colt Spence, who told them he was too busy with his own business, but the conversation planted a seed.

Spence had a college buddy from his days at Chadron State who was in the butchering business.

Stuart Hirckock, 26, was working in his hometown of Amherst at Balschner Custom Meats. Spence hit him up and pitched the opportunity in North Bend to take over his own custom meat shop.

“He said it’s a turnkey operation,” Hircock said, “great family, great town, and he knew I had family in the area, and that’s what started the ball rolling, really.”

That was last November. Hircock, who has family in Saunders and Butler counties, wasn’t in a position to buy the business outright yet, but a mutual friend of Hirckock and the Shanahans stepped in.

Charles Bernaek of the Wahoo Locker agreed to buy Bob’s Custom Meats and hire Hircock as a manager with the understanding that Hircock will buy the business in a year or two once he gets his feet under him.

“Everything just started to come together and we said, wow, this looks like it could work,” Shanahan said.

So far, it has. The Shanahans were still coming into work last week to help Hircock adjust.


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