By Michael J. Marino, Yellowstone County News

Originally constructed in 2006, the 22,500 sq. ft. S-Bar-S building in Lockwood will soon transform into a third location for Ranch House Meat & Sausage Company, a locally owned meat processing business, after a sale which was finalized in August.

S Bar S owner Ryan Stichman said, “We have no plans on shutting our doors.  January 1, 2022, I purchased S Bar S from my uncle, Tom Stichman.  I am the 3rd generation Stichman to own the business.” 

Stichman said his family has been looking at ways to downsize the store for a few years. They plan to break ground on a new, smaller lumber and hardware store late this fall or in early winter, as well as to renovate their original building to use as offices.

In the meantime, Stichman said S Bar S will lease an area of their old store from Ranch House as they prepare to move.

“We are excited about our future and our ongoing support of the Lockwood community that we have had since 1971,” wrote Stichman.

Ranch House Meats owner, Shane Flowers, said he plans to maintain the company’s two existing locations, which include one off Henesta Drive in West Billings, the other in Shepherd along Highway 312. Both stores sell hand-cut Montana beef, pork, and bacon as well as various smoked meats. In addition, the Shepherd location also offers custom smokehouse meats and private labeling.

What’s in store for the eventual third location off Old Hardin Road in Lockwood?

“It’s going to be strictly manufacturing,” said Flowers, “It’s going to be smoked products only.” He said, although a small area near the front of the building will serve as a retail environment where one can buy retail meat products, most of the space will be dedicated to “value added production” like snack sticks, jerky, and summer sausage.

The feedback from Lockwood residents as to this retail location has been “really positive,” according to Flowers. “I think, as a company, we will hopefully be an asset to the community, providing some jobs and tax base as well for them, [with] the amount of production we’re anticipating on doing.”

Flowers says he’s been eyeing the S-Bar-S building ever since it first went up for sale several years ago, noting its layout and open floor plan which would allow him to “build out the way we want it.” He also predicts that it will “create a great visual” for his future clients.

The decision to purchase the S-Bar-S building rather than expand the company’s existing locations was made for a couple of reasons. The first is that Flowers expects he will need “a fair amount of labor” to ramp up production work. “It’s going to be a lot easier to pull labor the closer we are to Billings,” he explained.

Flowers further said he looked into adding on to the Shepherd store but found the cost to be fairly significant due to the building running off less advanced utilities like wells and septic tanks.

As far as an opening date for the new Ranch House Meats location, Flowers told Yellowstone County News nothing is set in stone yet because some items, like equipment orders and construction supplies, are still being ironed out. However, as soon as the site is ready to launch, the company intends to make an official announcement.


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