Category: Success Stories
Graham Land and Cattle has operated in Gonzales, Texas since 1987 when Dr. Charles W. Graham bought the Harrell Cattle Co., feedyard. Since then, Graham Land and Cattle has been a mainstay of the community, serving cattle feeders across south Texas and increasing their capacity to be able to feed 30,000 head and background another 15,000 head. Believing that each rancher or cattleman should have the opportunity to feed his own cattle, they provide solutions that work for individual owners. In addition, a consulting nutritionist, Gary Holcomb of NSA, formulates their rations for the best results.
We spoke with Josh Gray of Graham Land and Cattle about why the company has chosen to grow in Gonzales and the regional advantages that make it easier for them to do so. “One of the biggest advantages to this area, for our business, is how easy it is for trucks to get in and out of our facility. That’s important for our business since we have around twenty trucks moving cattle and commodities in and out on a daily basis. And our business does just a portion of the transportation that the nearby poultry industry does to feed and transport their 6 million chickens. Still – there are no traffic jams that slow down operations because the infrastructure here works quite well,” said Gray.
Graham Land and Cattle is not alone in their need for easy transportation routes. Manufacturing, agriculture and distribution businesses throughout the Guadalupe Valley require easy access to major thoroughfares and wide roads – two things the area is known for. Interstates 10, in addition to local roads, provide good options for truck traffic moving throughout Texas and the rest of the country.
Access to labor is another advantage of locating in the Guadalupe Valley. In the cattle and food industry, businesses can struggle to obtain labor due to the remoteness of their location. That is not the case in Gonzales, Texas. “We hear of companies in other areas struggling to find labor. We don’t have that problem because Gonzales and Seguin have plenty to offer families, in addition to the jobs we and other companies provide,” said Gray. Josh Gray should know. He grew up in the area, left for college and chose to return home because he enjoys living in Gonzales over living in a larger city where there is congestion and traffic to contend with.
Beyond a robust infrastructure and access to the right labor force, there is another reason Graham Land and Cattle has been able to grow in Guadalupe Valley – access to land. “As a company, we have taken raw land and turned it into something productive. As we have grown access to land and the isolation of the area has helped. Our business relies on a lot of space and not a lot of neighbors. We don’t have a lot of encroachment by local government or by residential real estate developers like we would if closer to a major metro. I foresee that continuing which is important for our business,” said Gray.
The availability of land has been important for all industry growth in the Guadalupe Valley. There is a strong business ecosystem with the food, agriculture and manufacturing industries complementing each other. For example, “The availability of feedstuff through the agriculture helps our business. Other agriculture industry attracts feed and grain which attracts other positives that help our business. The businesses here are intertwined so it is hard to talk about the growth and staying power of our business without talking about what’s happening in the county and south-central Texas,” said Gray.
When asked about the future of Graham Land and Cattle, Gray sees increased opportunities and the potential for industry-wide improvements. “The feedyard business is relatively young. There’s been a tremendous amount of growth and expansion in the food industry with things becoming more efficient and safer. People consume food differently now and so we work closely with researchers and universities to improve ourselves and add value to the consumer. We are going to keep improving,” he said. Fortunately, Gonzales has everything they need to continue doing so.
While Gonzales, Texas, is widely known for poultry farming and cattle ranching, something that may not immediately come to mind when thinking of the county is mushrooms. Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms harvests approximately 225,000 pounds of mushrooms each month to ship to grocery stores, markets and food service providers. In addition to growing a variety of mushroom breeds in a 300,000 square foot climate-controlled facility, they also produce mushroom compost which is a highly beneficial soil additive.
Aisin AW, a Japan-based Fortune 500 company and global manufacturer of automotive transmission and other products, purchased a 159-acre tract of land from GVEC in 2019 to establish their second U.S. facility. The state-of-the-art plant in Cibolo, Texas, is projected to create over 900 jobs in the region. GVEC worked with the City of Cibolo and Guadalupe County, and garnered support from the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, Governor Greg Abbott’s office and other state agencies, in an effort to foster future growth that will have a substantial economic impact benefiting the Guadalupe Valley.
Gonzales holds fame in its place in Texas history, but did you know the small town has also had its share of television fame? Gonzales holds a Film Friendly Texas certification, granted by the Texas Film Commission. Production for AMC’s programs The Son and Fear the Walking Dead have filmed in downtown Gonzales and Palmetto State Park, along with an episode of Comedy Central’s docuseries Klepper.
Texas Lutheran University (TLU), founded in Brenham in 1891, has been in Seguin, Texas, since 1912. Rich in history and tradition, the university proposes small class sizes alongside big opportunity and educational value, offering 27 majors, 64 specializations, 4 graduate programs and 12 pre-professional programs. The school has consistently held top rankings in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” selections including “Best Value” and “Social Mobility.”
Gretchen Bee Ranch, headquartered in Seguin, Texas, has hives in Guadalupe, Gonzales and surrounding counties as well. In addition to providing fresh, healthy honey and products produced from local bee farming, the Gretchen Bee Ranch is also committed to help replenish the dwindling bee population in the Guadalupe Valley. This includes strategically placing bee yards in areas where they can help pollinate crops and native plants throughout the region.
GVEC began rolling out the fastest internet technology in the world with its pilot Fiber to the Home (FTTH) project in La Vernia, Texas, in 2013. Since then, we’ve completed construction making fiber available to over 21,000 residential and commercial customers in areas of the Guadalupe Valley. With plans to continue expanding its Fiber network, GVEC aims to bring this extreme-speed service to areas in the South Central Texas other providers sometimes neglect.
Cuero Regional Hospital has been helping to improve the health and lives of patients in DeWitt County since 1970. They celebrated 50 years of the Hospital’s growth and advancement in September 2020 with a time capsule burial ceremony, remembering the facility’s past while looking forward to its progression into the future. GVEC awarded a $20,000 Power Up™ grant to the Hospital EMS in 2018 for the purchase of a New LifePak 15 Cardiac Monitor/Defibrillator.
Spring is an excellent time to hop in the car and take a road tour through the Guadalupe Valley. Native wildflowers blooming our roadsides have adorned many a greeting card, magnet, coffee table book, and postcard in giftshops across the state. Map your route along Highway 90A from Seguin to Gonzales, and be sure to head down Highways 185 and 77 to see why DeWitt County has been designated the Wildflower Capital of Texas.