The satisfaction of return customers and getting the little things right is what drives the Gill family of Alexander Downs, Merriwa.
The business, which is in its 50th year, is a family effort across the vertically integrated business, which has a feedmill, an abattoir and produces beef and pork.
Stephen Gill, who runs the cattle side, said gelling well as a family was important. Everyone was trusted to do their jobs and do them well, and the team of 60 employees were also crucial to the operation's success.
The feedlot hosted the steers entered in the recent Woolworths Feedlot Trial and was also successful in the results with its teams of Limousin/Angus cattle.
Mr Gill said they ran about 500 cows with the offspring supplying both supermarkets and butchers.
Along with the feedlot cattle, they sent 400 head a week.
He said they had worked to improve the genetics they were using and eating quality was always the focus.
He used Warrigal bloodlines from the Wingham Limousin stud and Millah Murrah Angus cows.
"If you get a bad bit of steak you're not going to go back are you?" he said.
"I'm getting every kilo I can into that beast.
"There's no cattle underdone when they go - if anything they're super done.
"But that's the experience you want to give people."
The butchers they supplied also passed on feedback from return customers, he said, which was an important motivator.
"It's the sort of thing that probably gives us the edge, because it's feedback you get straight away," he said.
"It's not very often you get a pat on the back... you're not getting a compliment verbally but the proof is in the pudding.
"That's what gets you out of bed."
He said the Upper Hunter region had suffered since last August with a lack of rainfall, and as a result they had made some tough calls in regards to stock.
"We had to make some drastic decisions and we culled quite a few cows," he said.
They had culled cows three years ago during the last drought too, he said.
Back then, the oldest cows left were seven years old and it was those beasts the family decided to sell this time around.
"We could have sold cows in store condition but we chose to fatten them and sell them fat," he said.
"We've bought in 150 heifers, 12 months of age so we're going to replace the old cows with young heifers.
"The cows that we kept, which are three to six year old, they've been fed cotton seed.
"We'll just nurture them through until some green grass comes."
The feedlot cattle are sourced from saleyards all over the state, from as far north as Lismore and south to Wagga Wagga.
"It's a bit of a wide spread but it's what we need - it's good to spread your wings and source the cattle," he said.
"The black cattle do the supermarket job well for us and the Euro cattle hit the domestic job for us that go into the wholesale business."
Cattle were backgrounded in paddocks for three to six weeks before going onto feed, which helped them make the transition onto grain.
Attention to detail was a big part of the mentality and contributed to producing the best possible product, he said.
If steers were standing in the corner of the pens he would walk through and encourage them back to the feeder, and water troughs were cleaned daily.
"All those little things, if you're on top of them it makes a difference," he said.
"We go through the feedlot cattle daily and the paddock cattle are checked twice a week.
"It doesn't matter if it's been here for seven days or 77, it gets the same treatment."
Reducing the stress on the animal was also paramount. Where possible, he tried to truck cattle out with their mates, including when the feedlot trial steers were taken to Merriwa to be displayed at the annual show.
He recalls how three steers from the same vendor walked off the truck together.
"That's the appreciation of the steers, it's a small thing that you notice," he said.
"That's what gets you up out of bed, that sort of thing."
The family is no stranger to hard work, either. It's a Saturday when we catch up, and Mr Gill has been weighing cattle all morning.
"I don't think we can fit much more in a week - it's fairly intense," he said.
"Tomorrow I'll get cattle ready tomorrow for Monday. It's organised chaos but if I don't do stuff now, come Monday morning the stress levels are as high as the roof."
Having trust in everyone at any level of the business was a huge part in ensuring things ran as smoothly as possible.
A lot of staff were sourced locally and were young and enthusiastic, while some of those in management areas had been there for 15 years.
"There's a lot to organise, but the management, whether it's here or the feedmill, the piggery or the processing plant, or the wholesale business - the blokes or the women in these key areas, you've got total confidence in them," he said.
"Trust is a big thing... it takes the worry out of it for us."
Upgrades over the years included improving yards and infrastructure so drafting could be carried out by one person if necessary.
"Mum and Dad have been here for 50 years now, and where we are to where they've come from, it's an amazing change," he said.
"It's great when you put the effort in and you get rewarded, you can do the improvements."