SpouseWork — Dave and Becky Allan on the Cattle Life
With three businesses and three sons, Bar A Ranch owners Dave and Becky Allan live in a whirlwind—and it’s nothing new.
With three businesses and three sons, Dave and Becky Allan live in a whirlwind — and it’s nothing new.
Dave and Becky Allan own the Bar A Cattle Company, a purebred Hereford ranch; Genesource, a bull semen supply company; and The Brand Company, a promotional product design business.
The Allan’s road to entrepreneurship led them from college at Texas A&M, to Iowa, to Tennessee and then to Texas – most specifically Schulenburg.
Although her mother was raised on a dairy farm, Becky’s life as a military brat meant she had had little exposure to production agriculture. Dave, on the other hand, grew up in Nebraska, surrounded by generations of farm families, and active in raising cattle. Following their 1997 wedding, Becky joined Dave in small-town Iowa, where he was managing a ranch, – and the cattle life that has formed the foundation of their business and personal lives.
The young couple was tasked with moving their employer’s cattle operation to Tennessee, shortly after moving to Iowa. In 1999, though, they headed to Texas driving a pickup with a U-Haul trailer, a jet ski and a theme song.
“Remember that song, Heads Carolina, Tails California—that was us,” Becky said. “We didn’t have a plan really because we knew Dave could work as a consultant from anywhere.”
First stop, Stonewall. Dave’s expertise was in demand, but consulting kept him on the road at least five days a week.
“Dave got the opportunity to manage a large stocker [cattle] operation in Schulenburg—that’s how he got off the road and we got to Fayette County,” Becky said.
Building a Life and a Business in Fayette County
While navigating the unpredictability of entrepreneurship hasn’t always been easy, the Allans credit their success, in part, to a shared an interest in agriculture.
“My best advice to a husband and wife thinking about starting a business together is to make sure that you’re both interested in the industry,” Dave said. “I think it would be a lot harder if one spouse was just going through the motions.”
Becky concurred, “Even though I didn’t have experience in agriculture, I had an interest in it. I came into our relationship eager to be part of the industry, but I didn’t know how I was getting into the business side of it. Fortunately, our lifestyle showed me how—and I fell in love with the people of the land and agriculture along the way.
In 2002, the Allans struck out on their own and founded Bar A Cattle Company. Originally, they bred and sold calves for youth to show in livestock shows.
“It is a world that I know—and we had great success,” said Dave. “We bred and sold the 2011 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Grand Champion steer and its 2007 Reserve Grand Champion steer, and our boys have had 20 breed champions there in the last 10 years.”
While the business was successful, Mother Nature, in the form of the 2011 drought, dictated a change. The Allans sold their 250-head herd and replaced it with a much-smaller herd of purebred Herefords.
About the same time, they opened Genesource.
“With the drought, I wanted to run fewer cows—and diversify our operation,” said Dave, who splits his time equally between the ranch and the semen business. “Plus, we saw a need in the industry that Genesource now fills.”
Selling Semen in Schulenburg
Through Genesource, the Allans source bull genetics aimed at helping customers improve their herds. The semen is stored in nitrogen tanks until orders are placed. Customers, with Dave’s expertise, can find genetics for the top bulls in one place, which saves them time and means they don’t have to purchase the bull.
“Through the years, I’ve worked with a lot of breeds in both the purebred and club calf industries at the highest level, so I can help them choose what bulls will work best for them in their operations,” said Dave, who also judges major cattle shows throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Dave runs the cattle operations with one full-time employee, a part-time administrative assistant, and with help from their sons, Tyler, 20, a sophomore at Texas Tech, Mason, 16, a sophomore at Flatonia High School, and Landry, 8, a student at St. Rose. Becky handles the bookkeeping, marketing and order processing for the cattle businesses and is the CEO of The Brand Company, which she launched in 2003. She and her team of three salespeople work extensively with livestock breed associations.
“Our cattle customers are our semen customers are our brand customers. They come to the ranch and we ask, ‘Do you need a heifer, semen or some trash and trinkets?’” said Becky.
The Allans say their central Texas location is ideal for their multi-pronged business, with online sales and marketing key to their success.
When they began their business, they relied on on-site auctions to market their cattle. Today, those auctions are online. While the one-on-one consulting time Dave offers semen customers is critical, the Allans rely on UPS and FedEx to get their product to their customers safely and efficiently.
Their multi-faceted business is built on their track record of success and the relationships they’ve built in the cattle industry.
“People like doing business with people who they can trust,” Dave said. “Having all these businesses is like working in a fire station—every day we have to put out the biggest fire, but the benefits of having our family together most of the time and raising our boys in an industry full of like-minded people across North America who share our values are huge.”
Photos courtesy of Becky Allan
Inconspicuous Editor’s Note: Spousework is a recurring feature in Round Top Texas Life & Style highlighting Roundtopolis couples who make their living working together.
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