2019 Ranching for Profit Conference

Ranching for Generations 
August 1 – 3, 2019 ~ Sheridan, WY
The Ranching For Profit Conference is only open to Ranching For Profit alumni
Click here to register
↓Scroll down to read the Ranching for Generations interviews↓

Ranching for Generations:

Creating a Succession Plan That Works for Everyone

The most difficult challenges we face as business owners are exposed in succession planning.
What is one generation retiring to?
Is the next generation competent?
How will you treat on and off-ranch heirs fairly?
What if there is no next generation?

The Ranching For Generations conference will tackle these and other challenges head on. If you don’t have a succession plan, this is your chance to build one. If you have a plan, this is your chance to test and improve it.

The generational theme of the conference is particularly poignant for Ranch Management Consultants because Dave and Kathy Pratt are transitioning ownership and management of RMC to RFP Instructor Dallas Mount and his wife Dixie.

Join us as we celebrate the new generation of management that will continue RMC’s mission: Healthy land, happy families and profitable businesses. Your land, your family, your business!


  • Hotel Information:

    Holiday Inn Sheridan Convention Center 
    1809 Sugarland Dr. Sheridan, WY 82801
    For hotel room reservations please call: 307-672-8931
    Ask for the RMC room block for a discounted rate.

  • Schedule:
    • Day 1 - Thursday, August 1

      The conference begins with lunch.
      The afternoon program includes:

      Bridging the Generational Divide
      Independent consultant, Tara Kuipers will lead an engaging workshop revealing how generations see and process information about the world (and the ranch) differently. Want to connect more effectively with your kids, parents or grandparents? Tara’s program will show you how.

      Succession Stories RFP grads share lessons they’ve learned from navigating succession challenges in their own businesses.

      Transitions After an evening reception and a great meal our Keynote speaker, Utah State University Professor Emeritus, Fred Provenza, will share experiences and insights on life transitions. Fred founded BEHAVE. A holistic research and education program focusing Behavior Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation & Ecosystem management. Those of us who’ve had the pleasure of working with Fred know his perspective is as broad as it is deep. Fred’s program is bound to be thought-provoking and inspiring.

    • Day 2 - Friday, August 2

      Who Gets the Ranch and When?
      Managing the generations for transition success
      Business coach and consultant, Elaine Froese, will lead participants through a full-day workshop on succession planning. Elaine has been guiding farm and ranch families through the difficult conversations necessary to ensure continuity from one generation to another and secure a powerful, enduring legacy. Elaine will share insights and tools for “discussing the undiscussabull” and finding fairness in farm transition.

      In the evening there will be a no-host bar which will give participants and opportunity to network with other RFP grads and reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Participants will be on their own for dinner.

    • Day 3 - Saturday, August 3

      CSI for soils, the scene of the grime?
      Putting on our soil and pasture detective hats, we’ll dig deep into what may be putting a drag on performance, quality and success. Internationally respected educator and consultant, Nicole Masters, will show us what causes weeds, pests and diseases and what actions we can take to put the bad guys behind bars! Nicole’s workshop will start in the classroom and end in the pasture. (Buses will take participants from the hotel to the Padlock Ranch headquarters.)

      Padlock Ranch Tour
      Following lunch, Padlock Ranch CEO, Trey Patterson, and others from the ranch will lead us on a tour. They will introduce us to the iconic ranch’s history of stewardship and innovation. Winner of the Leopold Conservation Award and many other honors, the Padlock Ranch is known for it’s low-input, highly productive cow herd and cutting-edge management.

      BBQ & Entertainment
      Back at ranch headquarters we will enjoy a BBQ dinner and entertainment from Nashville recording artist (and RFP grad) Tris Munsick and his band.  It will be a special evening as we celebrate passing the RMC torch from Dave and Kathy Pratt, who have run RMC for 20 years, to Dallas and Dixie Mount. With Dallas and Dixie at the helm, RMC’s future is bright as it continues to help farmers and ranchers improve their land, their lives and their bottom line.

  • Confirmed Speakers:
    • Elaine Froese - Boissevain, MB, Canada

      Elaine Froese – Boissevain, MB, Canada
      Whether it is one generation stepping down or stepping aside, or another generation stepping up, succession in family businesses is challenging…even if everyone gets along and is on the same page. When there is conflict and uncertainty, succession planning can seem like an impossible hurdle to overcome.

      Elaine Froese is a farm family coach who specializes in helping families work through difficult succession issues to create sustainable businesses and powerful, lasting legacies. She will lead conference attendees in a full-day workshop to help attendees develop or review and improve their plans for succession.

    • Tara Kuipers - Cody, WY

      Tara Kuipers – Cody, WY
      Why can’t your parents, or grandparents and kids get on the same page as you and buy into the plan? Tara Kuipers knows and she’ll tell you at the Ranching For Generations Conference. She’ll also give you tools to help bridge the divide.

      Tara is an independent consultant specializing in strategic planning, mediation and change management for organizations and businesses across the Rocky Mountain West.

    • Nicole Masters - New Zealand

      Nicole Masters – New Zealand
      For generations North American farmers and ranchers have treated their soil like dirt! By improving soil health ranchers can increase productivity while reducing costs. That’s the specialty of internationally respected educator and consultant, Nicole Masters specialty. Nicole has worked with dozens of RFP graduates to devise and implement practical, low-cost solutions to improve soil health and the productivity of their land. Nicole will be leading a workshop on soil health at the Padlock ranch.

    • Fred Provenza - Hartsel, CO

      Fred Provenza – Hartsel, CO
      Life is a series of transitions. From young to old. From single to married to parents. Professional life is a series of transitions too. From apprentice to master to mentor. From work to retirement. From one generation to another. Transitions are challenging. They take us from comfort into the unknown.

      No one can tell a story like Utah State Professor Emeritus, Fred Provenza. Fred has gone through his share of personal and professional transitions and will share his insights as our keynote speaker.

  • Ranching for Generations Interviews
    • Buddy Baldridge of Mesquite Grove Ranch

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.  
      Our operation is a family-owned ranch. We attended the RFP school the first time in about 1980 (the last school led by Stan Parsons and Alan Savory).  We have attended the RFP school a couple of times since. Mesquite Grove Ranch operates about 35,000 acres in the Rolling Plains of Texas. The ranch has been in our family for over 100 years.

      At the time we attended the first school I had just been put in charge of the ranch operations. My learning curve was very steep. I had three years working with my uncle, who had managed the ranch since WWII. We were a cow/calf and horse operation running about 800 mother cows. We were very traditional in our management and grazing. We had around five (5) full-time employees. The standard answer to “Why do we do this like this?” was “well, we’ve always done it that way.”


      Tell us about your current operation.
      Our current operation is a lot different from the past. We still operate the same property. We use the principles from the RFP school in our grazing and management. We still have cow/calf, but we don’t own the livestock. We charge the cattle owner on a per head per month basis. That way we can regulate the stocking rate. We also move the cattle through all the paddocks on the ranch with planned grazing periods. We control the grazing planning and the stocking rate. By doing this we can avoid overgrazing.  

      We have separate division that operates an excavator to remove trees.  We do work for other ranches in our area and perform tree grubbing on our own place. We work closely with NRCS to help our customers obtain contracts for removal of mesquite and other undesired trees etc. This has provided additional income for the ranch.

      Another division provides management and accounting services for other entities. This also provides income for the ranch.


      What impact has the RFP school had on your business?
      The things we have learned at the school have given us tools to make our operation better and more profitable. The RFP school teaches good business practices & principles that can be applied to the ranching business and to other businesses as well. It’s fair to say that we might not be in business if we had kept on doing what we were doing.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?
      Things that we learned at the school have given me confidence in my leadership role at the ranch and in other areas as well.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Three things:

      1. put the decision-making processes taught at the school to use in your business and your life.
      2. Don’t come home and start building fences (or make any other major changes in a hurry). Use the principles taught in the school to evaluate your current operation and then decide what changes (if any) need to be made.
      3. Don’t be intimidated by others who think (and often tell you) that you are crazy to do some of the things you have learned. Be aware of people that tell you, “that’s not the way we’ve always done it!!” In your own operation don’t allow “that’s not the way we’ve always done it” to be an answer to questions like “why do we do this or why do we do it this way? You need real answers.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      It is my hope that future generations will be able to operate the ranch profitably and enjoy being a part of it in one way or another.

    • Sean Cunningham of Cunningham Pastured Meats

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      When I attended the Ranching for Profit School I had recently come back to my family’s ranching operation after graduating from college. It was perfect timing to take the class, because I had been learning the basics of the ranch and was starting to become interested in the way the ranch ran on a business level. My dad had taken the school years before and recommended that I attend as well. I learned so much in that week and was very eager to return home and make some changes. However, since I was not the manager of the ranch, my decision power was limited, which was fine, I was still learning. What I did decide, was to make a separate revenue stream from my family’s ranch, so we weren’t completely dependent on their decisions. In 2013 we started selling grass-fed beef to the Boise area.


      Describe your current operation.
      Now we are still on the family ranch, but we have a fully separate business that has added another level of revenue stream to the ranch. Our marketing business, Cunningham Pastured Meats, now sells pasture-raised animals: beef, pork, lamb and chicken. I lease ground from my dad and raise the animals on the family ranch and my wife Liz does the marketing and sales of the meat. This will allow us a smooth transition of the ranch over the next few years.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      The Ranching for Profit school is a “college education” on ranching in a week. I had just graduated from a top-ranked university with a degree in Business Management and Economics. The problem was that the university never taught me how to run a business! I learned more about practical business management in one week at the RFP school than in 4 years at university. It completely challenges your thinking and makes you look at the way things “have always been done” from a totally different angle … the profit angle. The investment in the school is nothing compared to the long-term benefits it will give to your business and your life, IF you apply it.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?
      The Ranching for Profit school had a very strong personal impact on us as well. It encouraged us to start asking the tough questions about our life goals and dreams, to become focused on where we wanted to go, and then enjoy the ride. Joining the Executive Link program allowed us to develop relationships with our other board members that pushed us to new levels and helped guide us to where we are today.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      For someone who just completed the RFP school I have to say, start applying what you learned immediately. It can be very hard coming home from such an intense school and not knowing where to start, but realize it takes time, but it takes dedicated time to make a difference. Sit down, get your goals on paper and MAKE TIME to do the WOTB. This comes easier to some than others, but your investment in the RFP school is totally up to you. You can put that book on the shelf and completely forget everything or actively take small steps (or big steps if your a go-getter like my wife) to make your situation the dream you always wanted it to be.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      We have several different goals lined out for the future, but right now we are actively growing our Cunningham Pastured Meats business (marketing business) and with goals of direct marketing all our cattle. Probably more important, we are very focused on the community we want to live in and the lifestyle we want to live. I think that the most valuable thing we are raising on our ranch is our children. With that in mind, we have structured our business so I can take my kids with me almost every day, I am home every night by 6pm, and we are trying to raise honest, hard working kids that will make a positive impact in their world. As for me, I have yet to work a day in my life!

    • Gary and Georgia Marshall of Broken Circle Co.

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School. In 1979 Georgia and I changed course.  We were 29 years old with a successful construction business, but our dream was to be in the ranching business. Georgia’s Aunt and Uncle came to us with an offer of a partnership in a ranch at the Double O, twenty-six miles south and west of Burns Oregon.  

      The early years were quite good with high cattle markets and plenty of water to flood the native meadows to make hay to feed the Charolais cattle through the winter.  Compared to the rest of the county, winters at the Double O were easier, but to keep those big cattle in the condition we wanted, we would feed 3 tons of hay per cow. We always fed hay from December thru the end of April.

      In 1981 Georgia’s Aunt and Uncle turned ownership and management over to us, and moved closer to town. We employed full time help with as many as 8 additional seasonal labors to harvest the hay. We added land and cattle, raising our three children and enjoying the challenge and hard work.

      Of course the cattle market cycled, and as I recall, 1984 we had a very nice open winter. There was no snowpack in the mountains or rain in the valley, so there was no hay and not much grass produced. We had a lot of hay stockpiled from the years of plenty, so we did not see this as a big problem. Little did we know this was the beginning of seven very dry hard years, at the Double O.

      At the next upswing in the market we sold deeply into the herd and reduced debt, but it was clear that we had to do more if we were to stay in the business.  I think it was 1991 that Georgia found the advertisement for the Ranching for Profit School to be held in Sacramento, California. That school changed the way we thought, and opened up new possibilities. I later attended Dick Devin School in Albuquerque N.M., which clearly supported the importance of tuning the calving season to the environment.

      We changed the calving dates from early March to mid May. The winter of 1992-1993 ended seven years of drought and was an extremely harsh winter with deep snow. The spring of ‘93 was our first year calving in May. We had a BLM desert permit we had kept ungrazed thru the drought, because of lack of stock water. We turned the dry cows into that field, as the snow was going off on the first of March. Water was good, feed was abundant, and calving was a success!


      Describe your current operation. Georgia and I have retired from full time ranching. We are leasing the ranch land, buildings and some cattle to a young couple with two children. They also purchased most of the cowherd and equipment in the transaction. During the time we were preparing and helping them become acquainted with the business, we sent them to the RFP School and started them down the Executive Link path. 


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business? The impact of attending the RFP School has made the difference in success and failure, I believe. In high desert conditions, such as ours, it is sometimes difficult to see a big positive change quickly. Over the course of time the change becomes apparent, with healthier deep-rooted perennial plants covering more of the ground.

      After RFP we changed how we looked at and treated the land, cattle and business. We changed from a haying operation to a grazing operation. We changed from big cows eating hay for 5 months per year, to a grazing program, where smaller framed cows get hay for 15 days per year. Stockers became an important enterprise with a positive gross margin and increased turnover. I always used the Bud Williams method of calculating, to find the class of cattle that were the undervalued animals to buy or keep.  This worked very well over the years and gave us great flexibility to stock, or destock, in balance with the forage production. The cow/calf enterprise became more profitable because of the big decrease in the direct cost of feeding them hay.    

      We began to see profitable years more frequently and a growing balance sheet. We changed the enterprises, because we now had the tools to evaluate the contribution each enterprise made.  

      One of the tangible and rewarding benefits was the healing of the land.  Although we were not aware, the way we managed before RFP School was destructive to the land. After attending the School we began to see the land as something precious, filled with life, and one of our roles was to nurture that life.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level? I remember the excitement during and after the school about the new possibilities for our ranch, but beyond that it was a launching pad for learning. I became aware of how much more I needed to learn and the difference that could come from knowledge, when applied.

      Georgia said that it empowered her. She knew she had greater control of the outcome, regardless of the situation. Instead of worrying and dreading, we prepared for drought, we prepared for market cycles and we planned our cash management. It is not the situation; it’s what you do about it. Ranching became fun!


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP School? Do not delay!  Apply as much as you can as soon as you can. RFP School has provided just what you need to build a successful business. Go ahead and do those things that you can easily do at first, if you wish. But, be determined  you will not stop there. Be determined you will become a master in the economic, ecologic and people elements of ranching.

      Your situation and business is unique, but the fundamentals of success are the same and RFP School has provided those fundamentals for your use. It is almost certain that you will need some help, so if possible, join an Executive Link chapter, continue to learn and be bold!

        What are your plans for the future of your operation? We will have the right people on this land to manage and care for it. We know the value of having the right people on the bus and having them in the right seats. Our plans include family ownership of the land. We will maintain organic certification with a sustainable regenerative grazing program, which keeps the land in a healthy state. We will maintain wild flood irrigation, providing for wildlife and native species.

    • David Mannix of Mannix Bros Inc

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      Mannix Bros Ranch Inc. was and is a family operation. There were three of us brothers and our wives in business together on our own operation. There were 9 young kids between the three couples. We also worked part time and shared some management responsibilities on our parent’s ranch nearby. Collectively it was about a 950 cow calf operation on deeded land with accompanying state and federal leases. Dad had scaled back on the ranch work he did, though he still was very active in working in his own timber enterprise on his land. That was kind of his retirement/succession plan. He turned over more and more of the ranch work and decisions to us kids and he channeled his energy towards the timber. We worked well together though we didn’t meet regularly and didn’t have enough of the communication tools we would need to continue working well together as we matured as families and a business. We were sound financially. But we didn’t have a good understanding of these many critical principles: 1) Economics; GM and Enterprise analysis. 2) Working with nature and our environment. 3) Grazing, range health in tune with animal production. 4) The Communication skills and needs mentioned above.


      Describe your current operation.
      Dad is now deceased. We lease our mothers land and have purchased her livestock and equipment. Her land ownership will go to the three brothers when she passes (a percentage is owned by us now). Our operation and land are still held in Mannix Bros Inc. The livestock are now owned by an LLC with the same six equal owners as the corporation. We have purchased two smaller neighboring ranches (the sale of conservation easements help to capitalize these purchases) that helped to completely unify the borders between our original ranch and our parent’s ranch. We have leased about 15,000 acres of private land that is close enough to trail cattle to and from. We now run about 1300 mother cows, 200 grass finished beef and 500 stockers. There are 4 of our children back on the ranch. We meet weekly with WITB and WOTB issues that include the whole working crew. We meet monthly with our board of directors that include all 6 owners and 3 members of the next generation.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      We were first exposed to the course in 1996. Within a couple years of that first exposure all six of us had either taken the school or taken advantage of the “home school” version that was available at that time. Five of our children have taken the course in the last few years. We joined the EL program in 1997 and continued with that for 10 years. Understanding the many principles that RFP teaches has been invaluable to us. I don’t believe that our colleges teach those well enough…or maybe they don’t emphasize them or drill them into us well enough. They seem to have a strong focus on increasing production which often does not increase profit. Also, especially through the continuing education function of Executive Link, we were exposed to so many great gurus and practitioners which in turn became mentors and friends. I am not a sharp enough tool to begin to estimate the return on our RFP investment. I believe that the largest return for us has been the relationships we have and being able to function as a family while we operate our business. And related to this…from RFP directly and networking…the realization that people issues (estate and succession planning is a large piece of this) are most often the cause of family business failure. I am confident that we have and understand the economic tools needed to accurately evaluate our business and make decisions necessary as we evolve. I am confident that the land we operate and steward is in better condition because of the management we implement with the knowledge of the grazing principles we learned at RFP. I am confident that our livestock and their production cycles match our environment close enough that we can be profitable in tough times.      


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?For me personally it boosted my confidence. It also expanded my world and world view as we networked with alumni, RFP educators and mentors across the continent.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Be confident of the skills and principles you learn at the school. Then be patient with yourself and your family/crew as you learn to apply them in your situation. To the extent that you can focus on the social leg of the stool first. Recognize that as you work on the balance between the three legs of what I think of as the “Sustaining Stool” (Social, Economic, and Ecology) there will, at times be objectives that conflict. For instance you may make a decision that adversely affects profit in order to gain quality of life. There are countless examples. Don’t get hung up on being a perfectionist. Work together with your people to create your vision/mission statement and use this for your north star.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      With the help of a facilitator, our accountant and attorney we are working through estate planning and succession planning for the next generation. My generation’s plans are to get out of the way of the next generation as they are ready…in theory that is…we’ll see how well we pull that off! 

    • Mat and Jennifer Carter of Crown Cattle Co.

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      Before RMC, we had a commercial operation calving in Feb/March. We put up lots of hay feeding 2 tons of hay per cow to wean 600 pound calves.


      Describe your current operation.
      Now we calve primarily in late May/June weaning 4-wts the first of December. We rough the cows through the winter on approximately ½ to 1 ton per cow, per winter lowering feed and haying costs. Due to their low nutritional requirements through the winter, they have learned and are able to utilize sage and rabbit brush as browse to supplement their diet as a cheap source of protein.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      RFP school has significantly increased the long term profitability of our operation. The way that the financial, economic, employee and team management, grass production, and livestock production aspects are tied together makes it easy to see a common vision for all aspects while still being able to assess the strengths of weaknesses of each aspect specific to our operation.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?
      RFP empowered us to feel more in control and be proactive to pursue things other than strictly our ranching career such as making time for family and enriching the personal lives of our employees. In addition, we enjoy teaching young buckaroos about traditional horsemanship, stockmanship, and the ranch life as a whole.

      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Join the Executive Link. It provides accountability and input of other forward thinking producers to further enrich your operation and build lifelong business and personal relationships. The level of continued education is unmatched for a ranching type learning environment. (And it’s fun for the kids.)  


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      We want to be expand further into the grass fed and finished market, provide an avenue to bring any of our kids into the operation that are interested, and continue to strive to be the best stewards of the resources God has entrusted us with. (Or possibly sell the ranch and spend our kids inheritance ;)

    • Pete Ferrell of 4L Grazing

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      I assumed management responsibilities after the death of my father in 1980.  Ours was a traditional cow/calf operation with some custom grazing. Success was survival.  I was a crisis manager who pretty much did some version of what we did the year before. Although I had good intuition, I knew nothing about business management or strategy.  I doubt that I was making a profit.


      Describe your current operation.
      We are a strategically driven, holistically minded organization. We seek involvement of all stakeholders. We adhere to policies and procedures that advance our mission which is to be a hub of positive influence serving as stewards of the land. Through personal development we engage our community to create regenerative landscapes and produce nutrient dense foods. We enjoy the freedom to explore our personal mission and interests on a welcoming homestead. And, yes, we make a profit almost every year.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      RFP taught me the essential difference between economics and finance.  I formally separated land ownership (Ferrell Ranch) from ranch management (4L Grazing) in 2003 as part of a strategy developed in Executive Link: both businesses are consistently profitable. The operating company (4L Grazing) leases the land from the asset holding company (Ferrell Ranch). Because 4L Grazing has very few assets and is basically a custom grazing company providing a service to others, it has a high ROA … ~ 20%. Ferrell Ranch is designed to receive passive income as rent and royalty. It has an ROA of about 2%. More importantly, both companies rely on careful and extensive strategic planning (WOTB) to help ensure these kinds of returns.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?
      It gave me access to and the support of an extraordinary peer group of professionals.  This was a huge confidence builder for me. As important as the school is, it is only the first step. The friendships and associations I have made through the school have been invaluable.  It’s really hard to imagine my life without them. Furthermore, I was also given the opportunity to work as an EL facilitator by Stan and then David. This was undoubtedly the greatest educational experience of my life. It enriched my knowledge of ranching and people in immeasurable ways.  I will forever be grateful for this.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Join Executive Link.  It’s the key to unlocking the treasures in the RFP school. EL gave me the support and tools I needed to develop my business into the more sustainable organization it is today. As mentioned, it’s really hard to imagine my life without this outstanding learning experience.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      My children have chosen non-ranching careers.  At 66, I am in the process of transferring management control over to the first non-family member since the ranch was founded. It is going very well thanks to the training the new manager received from RMC at the Ranching for Profit School and Executive Link. Exploring new strategies is lot more fun now that I am relieved of most WITB duties!

    • Morgan Chattaway of Bar S Ranch

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      My Dad and older brother Scott had attended a RFP school approximately ten years before I went to my first one. I remember Dad setting out the map of the ranch and saying “Everyone pick 2-3 fields to cross fence.” In the past 15-20 years we have crossed and criss crossed lots of fields. We practiced a style of rotational grazing before the school but I think the school really helped push us to look at the rest our fields were getting and the time cattle were spending in those fields as well. I think when I came home from RFP I had ideas of more paddocks per herd as well, but I also wanted to set out management goals and operating procedures to put in place and document. I don’t doubt that my dad and brother brought back similar ideas 10 years earlier but I must of been to young and smart to listen or care.


      Describe your current operation.
      We have made our herd movements simpler, started calving later (we have always started in April, now its early May) and began WOTB meetings. I try hard to close the work office door at 5 o’clock, in fact I moved my ranch office out of my house. Family time is the most important time.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      To put an exact dollar figure to what RFP has meant to the Bar S would be difficult. We have increased our herd numbers through changing our grazing practices and at the same time improved our forage conditions. We have began looking at our soil health and are very optimistic about the benefits we will see from improving the balance below the grass. The ideas we get from RFP and its alumni far exceed any costs of the course.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?On a personal level the school gave me confidence as a manager and created some lasting friendships with other alumni.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      For anyone just completing the course my advice is to not just take one idea away from the experience but grab all of them. Each change you can make will return far more than what this course costs.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      The future of the Bar S Ranch, well,  we are working on succession planning and trying to find ways to include the next generation, even those who aren’t busy with the day to day work. My vision of the ranch is to be sustainable (the new it word in the industry). With outside negative factors like weather patterns and governments we can only control what we do, so we are trying to practice the most efficient and effective ways to harvest our resources.

    • Derek Schwanebeck of Cornerstone Grazing

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      Conventional Cow Calf. Calving in April, keeping replacements, putting up hay, small custom hay contracting. We were leasing some ground from the family corporation. We were too small to make a living, so I had a railroad town job.


      Describe your current operation.
      Lease around 9000 acres, own with the bank 840 acres. Half of our SDA’s are allotted for Cow Calf, the other half are for Custom Grazing. Cow calf is a leased / share herd that ranges between 350 to 550 head, we don’t actually own any cattle. The custom grazing is focused on dry fall calving cows around 1100 to 1300 head, that are on the range for the high growth period of the season and go home to calve. We have two FTEs. We graze year around and supplement protein, mineral, and roughage (when needed).


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      Our current operation is self-sustaining. We are profitable enough to make two family livings on a place that would be too small for one family. Our business focus is on expansion instead of survival.  I believe that the impact of RFP/RMC/EL is ongoing, making us an extra $50k per year.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?Family time was made a priority. Daughter graduated from Air Force Academy. State championship level sports teams, our kids and our community, time and impact we would not have made without RMC. Motivational speaking about grazing and other subjects; paying it forward.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Identify the dead wood, start the chainsaw and then use it. Ask the hard questions NOW! If there’s bad news, know it now. What if it’s good news? For every threat there is an opportunity waiting to be capitalized on.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      Expand with the motivation of bringing families back to our community and keeping them.

    • Doug Gillham of Ivansons Inc.

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      In 1994 I attended the Ranching for Profit School. We had a diversified operation consisting of cow/calf, custom hog feeding, CRP and farming. We fed hay or silage from November through grass time, usually early May. We were good producers weaning 600 pound calves from a calving season beginning in January and running through April. We raised our own replacement heifers. We also produced hogs that consistently graded in the top three producers out of a marketing association of 100 members. I was in business with my Dad. I supplied the labor and he had the equity. We were doing just about everything the Ranching for Profit School said we shouldn’t be doing.


      Describe your current operation.
      Fast forward 24 years, we are now a low overhead custom grazing operation. We offer full care summer grazing. We own no heavy equipment, we rent any equipment needed or hire it done. In 2010, Theresa and I acquired the ranch from my Mom (Dad died in 2007) through a gift/purchase agreement. We put the land in an LLC, High Point Ranch, which leases the land to our sub S corporation, Ivansons, Inc. In 2005, 8 wind turbines were installed on the ranch.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      We determined through the RFP school that our ranch in 1994 had too much overhead. My parents were taking an income from the place, as were Theresa and I. Labor was the largest part of that overhead. Theresa and I decided that in order to preserve the ranch and not further erode Mom and Dad’s equity, we needed to leave. We found the deadwood in the business and we were it. We were, in a sense, sitting on the limb when we cut the deadwood out of the business. This restructuring allowed Mom and Dad to preserve equity by enrolling the remaining farm ground into the CRP program and custom graze the pastures. When the wind turbines were installed in 2005, the added income paved the way for a comfortable retirement for my parents. The decision to leave the ranch in 1994 was difficult from a personal standpoint but it was absolutely the right decision from a business standpoint.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level? Personally, the Ranching for Profit School gave me the tools, and the confidence to use them, that have guided me for the past 24 years. The RFP school was the best investment of time and money I have ever made.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      I would encourage anyone who has gone through the school to be relentless in putting the school principals to work. That includes seeing the red flags you would rather ignore and making the hard decisions necessary to make your business profitable. And always, always know where you are going by keeping your vision in front of you.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      My Mom died just this last September. Mom and Dad had a good succession plan which we are finalizing right now. As we are completing this succession phase from my parents, we are now working on our succession plan for our children and grandchildren. The land we now own was purchased three times. Once by my grandparents, again by my parents and a third time by Theresa and I. We are determined to pass the ranch on debt free to our children and grandchildren.  

    • John Marble of Heart - Z Ranch

      Tell us about your operation before attending the Ranching for Profit School.
      Prior to attending RFP School my ranch looked a lot like the ranch where I grew up: extremely high input in terms of petrochemicals, equipment, fuel, hay. We had a permanent herd of impractical cows that calved in the wrong season. We operated a rudimentary grazing system, with the main point being reserving all flat ground for making hay. The CPA told me that the way we were going we would always be getting a tax refund. We were going broke, but I had no idea why.


      Describe your current operation.
      We operate a small grazing and marketing business that is focused on using managed grazing to produce value. We have extremely low overheads and direct costs. We have no permanent cattle. Instead, I buy several classes of animals each spring with specific marketing plans. We also take on custom grazing cattle for several clients, largely placing them on rented pastures. Typically, over 75% of our land base is rented. We have no employees, but hire day help and custom hire any machine work or hauling. We own one very small utility tractor.


      What impact has the RFP School had on your business?
      Prior to attending the School, clearly, I did not understand business, and I did not truly have a business. I was simply doing what I had been trained to do. There was no economic analysis and pretty modest understanding of ecological concepts. I just worked hard and kept going. Now, I try to constantly review each enterprise for both economic and ecological impact. I run scenarios for change through my mind and on paper, constantly looking for ways to change and go forward. I read everything, always looking for good ideas to steal. I seek change. I try to hang out with people who are radical thinkers.


      How did the school impact you on a personal level?
      I think spending a week with a room full of people who had the same problems as I did was enlightening, and truthfully, sort of comforting. Seeing that we were all in the same position—approaching desperation—allowed me to conclude that I (we all) needed to find a way forward. The camaraderie of the group was pretty intense. Afterward, I found myself feeling like a member of a huge RFP fraternity, and now I find other members everywhere I go. They are typically energetic and optimistic folks.


      What words of wisdom do you have for someone who has just completed the RFP school?
      Take a breath. Look back at the material and the notes you made during the week and think about which items represent the most absolutely critical changes you need to make, then concentrate on them. Don’t seek much advice from people who haven’t had RFP experience: they will most certainly discourage you from making change. Soon after you begin making real change—perhaps a year or two—sign up to repeat the School. This will drive you to complete more changes, and the second School will reinforce the things you have learned. Repeating the School is a great bargain.


      What are your plans for the future of your operation?
      I think the early conclusion that my wife and I were not going to have children was extremely important in determining what the ranch business would look like. Building a ranch with no apparent succession option probably caused me to choose different pathways than other folks might have. In the end, I have no true business to sell or pass on, even though we have been modestly successful. We have assembled a significant amount of value in real estate, and that will serve us well in retirement. The bucket full of skills and knowledge that I accumulated about how to ranch for profit is not a salable item, and that’s OK: those skills and knowledge have served me well. Fundamentally, I feel like we have found success without succession.

We look forward to seeing you all in Wyoming!