At Compart Family Farms in Nicollet, three generations share a common purpose and passion for producing the world’s best pork.
“It starts with passion,” Dean Compart said. “It is something that we’ve grown up in. It’s a lifestyle we’ve all enjoyed. It is also a challenge, a challenge a lot of people can’t relate to. It really gets in your blood.”
Dean is part of the Compart ownership group and the son of founders Richard Compart and Bonnie Compart. He manages the Elite Genes A.I. brand at Compart’s Boar Store, one of several Compart businesses.
Compart Family Farms is the heart of the family’s business. Its Nicollet farms produce premium Compart Duroc pork, which is sold through its online store and through distributors to restaurants and retailers globally.
“We work hard as a family, and we developed something together that people love,” Jim Compart said. Jim is Dean’s brother. “Dad was interested in the science of raising pigs. He always said, ‘I never believed that we would be taking science and putting it on somebody’s plate.’”
Compart-branded meats have earned a stellar reputation with master chefs around the world. You’ll find Compart-branded meats on restaurant menus from Tavern on the Green in Manhattan to Duke’s Beach House in Maui to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
“We service restaurants coast to coast, as well as restaurants and distributors in other countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia,” Jim said.
At Pinpoint Research, the Comparts’ nutritional research farm, they perform research and testing to optimize growth, performance and meat quality characteristics. In the process, the Comparts have reduced their farm’s carbon footprint.
Then there’s Compart’s Boar Store, the original family business, which capitalizes on 70 years of breeding and genetic research to produce top-in-class breeding stock and boar semen for artificial insemination. Under the Boar Store umbrella, you’ll find the Elite Genes brand, which helps introduce superior genetics from elite Duroc, York and Landrace boars and gilts.
Meet the Compart family
The Compart family: Chris, Rochelle, Kyle, Kaye, Dean, Jim, Diana, and Dan.
Compart’s Boar Store was founded by the late Richard Compart and his wife, Bonnie Compart.
“Our operation dates back to 1949, when our father, Richard, started Durocs as a 4-H project. He met my mom at the State Fair. She was showing a Hampshire pig, which is a black and white belted pig. He was showing Durocs,” Jim said.
The pair married and started raising Duroc pigs and milking cows. Along the way they raised five children: Dean, Marc, Jim, Chris and Heidi. All helped to run the family farm.
“Raising pigs is something we all love. You always wonder what the next year’s pigs will be like and where you want to go,” Dean said. “We all enjoyed seeing it change and putting the work in. It was a great opportunity to work alongside our parents.”
By 1964, the Comparts had sold their milk cows and brought in Hampshire pigs. Then sons Marc and Jim added the Yorkshire breed in 1977. In 1982 Dean joined the business adding more Hampshire sows, and Chris brought in the Landrace breed in 1988.
“Our parents’ passion was pigs,” Chris Compart said. “Dad started the very first on-farm test station in 1965 when he saw the need to select animals that are good for the trade. It evolved into all of the sons coming back to the farm and developing the other breeds.”
Since those early days the company has grown substantially and now has 4,800 sows in its program and processes about 100,000 animals each year, 50,000 of which are raised on its Nicollet farms.
Today brothers Dean, Jim and Chris are still involved in the business and the third generation of Comparts is joining in.
Dean and his wife, Kaye Compart, focus on the Elite Genes boar stud program. Their son, Kyle Compart, heads up day-to-day production on the numerous farms.
Jim focuses on sales for Compart Family Farms’ branded meat products. His wife, Diana Compart, heads up the company’s accounting group. They have two sons in the business: Robert Compart runs a breeding stock farm at Princeton; Dan Compart handles fulfillment and logistics for Compart Family Farms.
Chris oversees the genetic side of the operation at the Compart’s Boar Store and growing crops for the business. His wife, Rochelle Compart, performs pedigree work for breeding stock and fulfills meat orders for the online store.
The Comparts agree that their passion for farming is something they were born with, so it has always been about family from generation to generation. Everyone in the family is connected to the products they send to market. But they acknowledge they also have a great team of people that work with them.
“Everybody has a lot of pride in what they do for us. They have a lot of pride, and they’re doing everything right because they put their name on it.” Jim said.
The Compart Duroc
The Comparts don’t produce just any pork. They believe the pork they’re producing at Compart Family Farms is the best pork on the market.
“It’s the most tender, juiciest pork you can buy,” Jim said.
So what separates the Comparts’ pig from the competition? Decades of genetic research and breeding to produce the best in the breed. The Comparts specialize in the Duroc pig. It is a red pig with a long history.
“The Duroc breed came over from Spain,” Jim said. “They say that Christopher Columbus brought it over. If you go on vacation, you’re going to take your best shoes along so you can enjoy your trip. Well, he made sure that if he was going to a new country, he brought the best pork that he knew.”
Duroc pigs tend to be large, with auburn red coats and droopy ears. They are valued for their feed efficiency and rapid growth rate. Their meat also appears redder before it is cooked.
“We have the trademark, ‘redder is better’. Color is a good indicator of pH. Darker pork is typically higher in pH, and higher pH pork is more tender,” Dean said.
When the marketing slogan, “Pork, the other white meat” swept across the country, it changed how consumers shop. According to Jim, pork producers were referring to the pale color of cooked pork. But consumers interpreted the saying differently and began looking for light-colored, uncooked pork at the grocery store. This led to breeding for lighter colored meat, which can be drier and less flavorful.
“When you buy a pork chop in a store or a restaurant, you have no idea, sometimes, what you are going to get … the comment that I hear is, ‘I don’t like pork when I’m dining out because it is usually so dry.’ But our product is different. When the top chefs eat it, we know it is good,” Jim said.
“You will never find a better, juicier, tastier bacon than that which was made the Compart way.” Dean said.
The Duroc breed is the foundation of Compart quality. But there are several other ingredients that make their meat excellent.
The Compart family has spent 70 years recording pedigrees and selectively breeding their pigs to encourage certain characteristics. While some breeders aim for lower cost and rapid growth, the Comparts breed for marbling and water retention for a juicier product and better flavor.
Chris is a certified ultrasound technician and uses this tool to evaluate Compart pigs.
“We used to weigh pigs and measure their backfat and loineye size. Now I also can look into the loineyes and measure the amount of intramuscular fat these pigs have, which translates into the juicier, flavorful pork we’re looking for,” Chris said.
The ultrasound data is used to select the best pigs for breeding, as Chris explained: “We’d keep the top 2 to 3 percent of the males and females and put them together. The next year we would do the same thing again. After 10 years, we created a far superior product. It is all a part of genetic selection and something we learned way back as kids. When you rely on good data, you get good results.”
The Compart breeding program has paid off in a big way as Compact Durocs have double the marbling of their peers and have the consistently great flavor their customers count on.
“We’ve created a very highly marbled Duroc line that is undoubtedly the most highly marbled Duroc available today anywhere in the world. When you order a Compart Duroc pork product, it is like a Hershey’s candy bar; it is the same yesterday, today and next week,” Jim said.
To ensure their pigs live up to their pedigree, the Comparts have developed a proprietary feed program.
“We sell a high percentage of our market hogs into our own branded pork program, then we work with other cooperative farmers that use our genetics and use our feeding program which we developed through 17 years of nutritional research,” Jim said. “We worked with nutritionists from Hubbard Feed to develop a proprietary feeding program that maximizes the genetic potential in our purebred Compart Duroc animal.”
Today the Duroc breed is popular once again and the Comparts are reaping the benefits of their loyalty to the breed and the decades they invested in elevating it to new levels.
“Just because it’s Duroc pork doesn’t mean it’s going to be high quality. A lot of people want to get involved with Duroc now, but it takes many, many years to develop,” Jim said. “We bred our animals in a very scientific way for 20 years to get to the point that we have today. A lot of the corporate genetic programs don’t have pedigrees to track, and they’re not willing to spend 20 years to develop them. So for them to compare their percentage Duroc or a Duroc that they bought somewhere to our Compart Duroc — it’s like comparing a Model T to a Ferrari. That’s why we call it Compart Duroc.”
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to heat up the grill and plan for back yard barbecues. At Compart Family Farms, they believe the secret to a great barbecue is starting with a great meat.
“We sponsor barbecue teams that cook our products. It took no time at all to prove it’s not just the sauce that matters,” Jim said. “The past five to six years, all the winning teams used Compart Duroc pork. We’ve had judges tell us that they can tell when they’re eating Compart pork because it tastes so much better. There’s such a difference.”
The Comparts sponsor about a dozen teams and sell their branded meats to many more.
“We sell to hundreds and hundreds of teams. Across the country, there are barbecue contests with 25 to 50 teams competing every weekend. In the south, people barbecue like people in Minnesota go fishing,” Chris said.
According to Dean, the Compart teams have been performing well on the national barbecue scene.
They’ve won in top competitions across the country four out of the last five years.
The good news for the weekend amateurs? You, too, can make award-winning barbecue. Compart Duroc porkchops, ribs and roasts are only a click away on the Compart Family Farms website.
Serving Only the Best
At George’s Fine Steaks & Spirits in New Ulm, Compart Duroc Pork plays a starring role.
“It tastes so good because it’s a quality product that you can’t get anyplace else,” George Cottom said. “Our restaurant is all about providing the best and Compart Farms pork is the best that I’ve ever had. It’s such a reliable product and it has exceptional flavor and tenderness. It just works great for us.”
Cottom is the owner of George’s and a long-time customer of Compart Family Farms. He relies on them for all his pork supplies. One of the things he appreciates most is the way the extra marbling in Compart pork creates a juicy, delicious meat.
“It has fat content/marbling you don’t find normally with pork products. These guys have been working for years, making sure that they only reproduce pigs that have that capability,” Cottom said. “When they source it genetically and refine it year after year, you end up with this fantastic, consistent product.”
Compart Duroc Pork is featured in one of Cottom’s favorite specials: small pork medallions with bell peppers, onions and exotic mushrooms.
Although it’s not yet officially summer, folks are already getting their orders in for one of Compart’s most popular products: a Compart Duroc gift box.
“We get very busy during the holiday season shipping all different types of pork that people order online. People are buying gifts for the holiday season, and year round. People love the Compart Duroc pork gift boxes, because it’s restaurant-quality pork, and it’s packaged very nicely”. Chris Compart said.
Gift boxes are available for thank you presents and special occasions any time. Holiday orders start rolling in in September or even earlier, as businesses start planning their budgets for the season ahead. There are seven gift box combinations to choose from in a variety of prices and sizes.
For an extra special gift, the family recommends their unique, dry-aged porkchops. Typically, dry-aging doesn’t work with pork, but Compart Duroc pork is bred and fed to give it higher quality fat and marbling, which allows the dry-aging process to occur.
“When we take dry-aged pork porterhouses or dry-aged pork ribeyes to steakhouses, it’s like, ‘Wow, that reads really good on the menu.’ And when they taste it, it’s unbelievable the difference in taste,” Jim Compart said. “The flavor is more condensed. It’s juicier.”
Gift boxes, dry-aged pork and many other cuts can be purchased in the Compart Family Farms online store, then shipped or picked up out at the farm.
Compart Family Farms
45198 400th St.
Nicollet, MN 56074
Phone: (507) 246-5179
Photography by Jonathan Smith