All About the People

From four generations of family business to the McCombs School of Business, alumni Billy and Rozanne Rosenthal say that it’s all about the people.
From left, Ben, Rozanne, Ashli and Billy in Standard Meat’s offices in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

From left, Ben, Rozanne, Ashli and Billy in Standard Meat’s offices in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Our story begins in Fort Worth in 1935. Ben H. Rosenthal, a Russian Jewish immigrant, rents a single meat locker, buys some beef in the nearby stockyards, processes it, and sells it door-to-door to local clubs and hotels. He calls his venture Standard Meat Company.

Nearly a century later, Standard Meat Company is in its fourth generation of family ownership and the Rosenthal name is equally legendary in the food industry and the world of philanthropy, in Fort Worth, around Texas and across the country. Their secret recipe? “It’s all about the people.”

“I think that’s the most important thing you can learn in college,” says Billy Rosenthal, BBA ’72. “If you’re going to be an accountant you’ve got to learn accounting, if you’re going to be a doctor you have to learn about the sciences. But for business, it’s all about getting along with people.”

That was a lesson he learned from his grandfather, Ben, and from his father, Manny, an Aggie who became Standard Meat’s president in 1959 and hired Billy to work at the family business when he was just 14. Manny encouraged his son to follow in his footsteps and attend Texas A&M, but Billy had his heart set on getting a business education at The University of Texas at Austin.

CTW MarApr Web Ben Rosenthal
Ben H. Rosenthal, the founder of Standard Meat Company, taught his family that it’s all about the people.
At UT, Billy met lifelong friends, including the love of his life, Rozanne. A Bay City native who graduated with a degree in elementary education, she was also pursuing work in her family’s passion — education — and making her own “forever friends,” as she calls them.

While their paths diverged after Billy graduated and went to work in West Texas (“I used to say that was my MBA — Missouri Beef”), they reconnected a few years later and married in 1978. Just three years later, Billy became president of Standard Meat and began leading the company through decades of explosive innovation and growth that led to acquisition by Sara Lee and an early retirement in the 80s, a visionary relaunch of the Standard Meat in the mid-90s, partnership with Cargill, and the company’s return to full family ownership — under the co-presidency of Billy and Rozanne’s two oldest children, Ashli and Ben — in 2019.

Through it all, Billy credits just one thing for Standard Meat’s success. “It’s all about people: your friends, your suppliers, your customers, your employees,” he says. “Without those people, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Relationships are also the foundation of the Rosenthals’ lifelong commitment to philanthropy. “We were raised to believe that you need to set the example,” Rozanne says. “My dad used to tell me that there’s not a better feeling than giving to others,” Billy adds.

CTW MarApr Web Rozanne and Billy
Rozanne founded the Fort Worth affiliate of Susan G. Komen and organized its first Race for the Cure in 1993.
Billy remembers his grandfather giving away money even during Standard Meat’s leanest times, and the pride his father felt when he could start making significant gifts to people and causes he supported. “I was also taught that giving was just something you did naturally and that it felt good to give of yourself,” Rozanne says. Her family’s long history of volunteerism and community support — and her own love of people — led her to what she calls her “life’s work”: founding and leading the Fort Worth affiliate of Susan G. Komen to honor her best friend and UT roommate, Joan Katz, B.S. ’74, a four-time breast cancer survivor.

Last year, the Rosenthals brought their philanthropy full circle, back to the place where their chapter of the family story started: the Forty Acres. “My dad told me, ‘All my success started with the relationships I made in Austin. The friends I made there were always the ones behind the scenes pushing me to do great things,’” says Billy and Rozanne’s son, Ben. “There was always something in the back of my dad’s mind about Texas. And he really wanted to give back in a big way.”

“What’s a better way to give back than to something that gave us such an opportunity?” Billy asks. He and Rozanne decided to invest $25 million in the McCombs School of Business, which has renamed the Rozanne and Billy Rosenthal Department of Management in their honor. “I love people, and Rozanne loves people most,” Billy says. “And to me, that’s what management’s all about.

That department is going to be a living legacy that our kids, our grandkids and the next generations to come will see — not just our names, but the idea of giving back. If people don’t understand the importance of giving to others, they really don’t understand life. Rozanne and I have been successful in so many ways, but from that we’re able to do so much more for others. There’s nothing more fun than giving.”

The Rosenthal Department of Management

Billy and Rozanne’s gift will support research, teaching, students, faculty and academic efforts across the department, helping Texas McCombs make an even bigger impact on business’ biggest challenges.

Calla Carlson, BBA ’26

“The Rosenthals’ passion for education and commitment to UT are inspiring. Their gift is going to provide so many valuable learning resources for business students like me.”
Calla Carlson, BBA ’26

“I was drawn to the Rosenthal Department of Management because of the prominent professors, the wide range of expertise and research interests, and the chance to live in an exciting and wonderful city like Austin. The Rosenthals’ investment will help our professors continue to do cutting-edge research and support the research and projects for students, too.”
Kendall Yamamoto, Ph.D. ’24

Kendall Yamamoto, Ph.D. ’24
Kendall Yamamoto, Ph.D. ’24

“I was drawn to the Rosenthal Department of Management because of the prominent professors, the wide range of expertise and research interests, and the chance to live in an exciting and wonderful city like Austin. The Rosenthals’ investment will help our professors continue to do cutting-edge research and support the research and projects for students, too.”
Kendall Yamamoto, Ph.D. ’24

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