Army veteran shares Wagyu beef cattle business success story at Texas A&M Beef Short Course.
By: Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
While beef producers were learning how to become more profitable at the 61st Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course in College Station, a veterans breakfast featured one unique success story from Austin’s Josh Eilers.
Eilers, who owns Ranger Cattle, a pureblood Wagyu operation, is a Purple Heart Army veteran. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger course, considered one of the toughest leadership-focused training programs in the world. As a sergeant, he served as team leader for the U.S. Army’s First Ranger Battalion and was part of four deployments.
At 17, he joined the Army. By the time he was 20, Eilers’ sister began encouraging him to apply to college. Sitting in Afghanistan, Eilers recalled, “We nearly got ambushed by the Taliban. About that point during my tour of duty, my mom was worrying all of the time wondering if she would get ‘the call.’ She was to the point where she wanted me to get out of the military.”
After his military service, Eilers eventually enrolled at the University of Texas majoring in biology, and began exploring potential business options. During his military career, Eilers said he was able to save a good portion of his pay and eventually got into the cattle business. He also benefited from taking an entrepreneurship course at the University of Texas that helped him better understand that he could “vertically integrate my Wagyu cattle business into providing fresh beef to restaurants.”
However, Eilers needed additional capital to expand his herd and provide a steady source of fresh beef. He went to several large banks, but they did not lend him the money since he didn’t have three years of steady income and had been going to school living off the GI bill. However, Capital Farm Credit reviewed his business plan and existing assets and agreed to provide him the funding.
Today, he’s providing fresh Wagyu beef online as well as supplying restaurants, including Posse East in Austin.
“We are deeply indebted for your service and what you have done for this country,” said Dr. Rick Machen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist from Uvalde, who led the breakfast program. “Josh has a great story, and this type of story needs to be told.”
The veterans breakfast was a first for the Beef Cattle Short Course and featured more than 60 veterans.
“We appreciate your service and for you being here today,” said Jay Paul Stewart, senior vice president, chief lending officer for Capital Farm Credit. “We know the battles are just beginning when our soldiers return home. We want those veterans who are interested in agriculture to have the opportunity,and we want to be a trusted partner for them .”
For more information about Ranger Cattle, visit www.rangercattle.com.
Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service