Ask anyone what Corpus Christi is known for and chances are, you'll get the stock answers -- beaches, the Aquarium, the Lexington, birding, maybe even Selena.

But they will likely miss the fact that Corpus Christi is also home to the world's seventh largest meat packing plant, Sam Kane Beef Processors.

The company has been in the news recently because it just changed ownership for the first time ever.

Recently, 3News was able to take a tour of the plant, and we brought a camera.

It all begins with a commodity that no meat packer can do without -- beef cattle. They come here from about a 350 mile radius. Their numbers have been dwindling here in Texas because of the severe drought, and yes, it has put additional pressure on plants like this one.

It's one of the reasons this complex just recently changed hands after some 64 years. Lou Waters, Jr., a cattle rancher from Houston, represents the new ownership group.

"Well, this plant is a key link in the beef business in South Texas," Waters said. "It's the only plant that processes beef for the feeders down here, and if this plant were to close, the entire industry would close with it in the southern half of Texas."

Sam Kane and his brother, Bernard, who were members of an orthodox Jewish family, first arrived here in 1948. They had fought with the resistance movement against Hitler, who had occupied their native Czechoslovakia. They lost many relatives at Auschwitz, and ultimately, they emigrated to the U.S. to escape communism.

Sponsors in this area helped to bring them here, but Sam, who had a good head for business, was about to leave Corpus Christi, looking for better opportunities.

Then he was told about a small meat counter that he could run. It was part of a store, about the size of a stripes, and Sam knew nothing about meat, but he learned quickly, and eventually built the facility that exists today on Leopard Street -- the world's seventh largest meat packer, with nearly 800 employees, many of whom have been here for decades.

Sam's son, Jerry Kane, has run things for most of the last 40 years.

"There was just one single drive, and that was for survival," Jerry Kane said.

He not only survived, but he did quite well, and provided jobs for hundreds of employees who were able to fulfill their own dreams.

"This job allowed me to put my girl through school," said Laura Mota, an employee of 38 years. "She's a nurse."

From the beginning, Sam Kane Beef has always produced a top-quality product, but USDA inspectors are always here to make sure; checking, inspecting and documenting what comes in and goes out.

Some 1,250 cattle come into the plant per day, and are guided into pens scientifically designed to prevent stress. Stress causes adrenaline to inject into th meat, degrading the quality of the meat.

The actual slaughtering is done as humanely as they know how, and after a two-day cooling process, the meat arrives at what is called the "fabrication" floor. Instead of an assembly line, you can think of it as a disassembly line.

Workers have to go through intense training to be able to expertly transform a huge mass of meat into the steaks, roasts, ribs and ground beef that you see at the supermarket.

The final product leaves the plant via truck, and is taken to supermarkets and restaurants near you. For the Kane family, it has been a good business.

The new owners have decided keep the Sam Kane name, and to retain the current workforce. In fact, in exchange for a $3 million grant from the City over the next five years, they have agreed to expand the workforce by at least 25 people every year.

In the meantime, Jerry Kane and his wife, Glenda, say they are already planning a new business venture in Corpus Christi. They say they plan to make that announcement soon.