Cattle Baron Seeks Young Entrepreneurs

February 6, 2011 08:25 AM


The undeniable sound of a helicopter grows louder outside the Cactus Feeders office in Dumas, Texas. "He’s here," the office manager says, nodding toward the window. Across the yard, 81-year-old Paul Engler walks unassisted from the landing pad to the modest feedlot office adorned with mounted Texas longhorn steer horns and trophies showcasing years of prize-winning cattle.

Engler eagerly shows off photo albums of his early years in the cattle industry, when he founded Hereford Feedyard, the first large-scale commercial feedyard, and later the famous
Cactus Feeders, the world’s largest cattle feeding company. He is credited as the creator of formula pricing, a method that provides incentives to feeders to consistently produce beef that meets consumer health and quality standards. Now in the sunset of his life, Engler wants to create a support system for young entrepreneurs in agribusiness.

The University of Nebraska alumnus and cattleman has bestowed a $20 million gift to permanently endow a fund supporting the Paul F. Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

"I think about myself and my age, and I still have fire in my belly," Engler says. "We need to identify the boys and girls who have that fire when they are young and expose them to a curriculum that teaches risk—how to evaluate it and how to manage it —because if you don’t take risks as an entrepreneur, you are not going to make it."

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