Leave a Legacy
Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project. He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.
Aug 30, 2011
From Legacy Moment eNewsletter (08/26/2011)
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We don’t know when, where or why, but one event can often be the catalyst for a lifetime of achievement. For the founder of Cactus Feeders, Paul Engler, that “event” might have occurred when he was 13 years old.
While Paul’s dad was away on a business trip, Paul slipped away to the local cattle auction and purchased his first herd of cattle. As he tells the story, I think we can all learn from his experience.
“On Wednesday afternoons when the sale was going on, I’d take my horse and go up there to work. So, when my father was gone, I sat up in the ring and bought myself a hundred head of cattle, and I didn’t have a dime! After the sale, the sale barn operator, the owner, said, ‘Paul, you bought some cattle today.'
“And I said, ‘Yes, I did.’
“And he said, ‘You don’t have any money, either, do you?’
“I said, ‘I don’t have a cent.’
“And he said, ‘Well, how you gonna pay for these cattle?’
“I said, ‘I guess you’re gonna have to loan me the money.’
“And I guess I had a good enough reputation around there, that he said, ‘Okay, we’ll do it.’
“So I went home and told my mother. She had a fit. She said, ‘You’re gonna get the worst licking you ever had in your life when your dad gets home.’
“First of all, she thought I got cheated and didn’t know what I was doing. We had a neighbor who was a rancher. So she ran over to tell him and he said, ‘No, Paul did a good job buying his cattle.’
“I got the cattle home, branded 'em, put my brand on 'em, and just turned 'em out with his [his father’s]. When my father got home, he said, ‘Let’s go look at the cattle.’
“We drove over there. He said, ‘The herd got a little bit bigger while I was gone.’ But I was ready for it. I told him what I did and he said, ‘How’d you pay for them?’
“I told him and he said, ‘Let’s go down to the bank. I think we can do a little bit better.’
“And we got it all done, and instead of getting a licking—and this was a very touching thing to me—he stuck out his hand and shook my hand and said, ‘I’m proud of you, son.’
“So it was a nice deal and that’s how I got started in the cattle business.”
Cactus Feeders is now the largest cattle feeding operation in the world.
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