In 1962, Marvin Priefert purchased 300 acres of land in Mt. Pleasant, TX. This original piece of property became the foundation for the Priefert Ranch. Little did Marvin know that this move would not only change the course of his family's life, but would lead to a revolution in the livestock industry. Over the years, the ranch's borders have expanded and it has seen new growth and innovation abound. Rich in family history, the ranch is still home to many of members of the Priefert family. It has been an instrumental part in the growth and development of Priefert Manufacturing and the ranch equipment it produces.
Built by Ranchers, For Ranchers
A farmer and inventor by trade, Marvin Priefert had never envisioned himself becoming a rancher. Luckily, life has a way of stepping in and changing our plans to help us the find path that the Lord intends for us to travel. To learn the ranching industry, Marvin helped his neighbor work cattle. The predominant headgate of the day was the guillotine or swinging-door style headgate, each with its own problems and challenges. Marvin, who already held several patents for inventing farming equipment, decided there had to be a better way and began designing a headgate of his own. In 1964, he invented the first gliding-action, walk-through headgate. Today, that concept dominates the market. Marvin's invention would go on to become the foundation of one of the largest and most respected ranch equipment manufacturing companies in the world.
As Marvin's business grew, so did his family and their ranch. Today, the original ranch boarders have grown to encompass just over 1,700 contiguous acres, with the Priefert family owning approximately 3,000 acres in the Mt. Pleasant area. What started as a cross-bred cattle herd has grown to include both cross-bred and pure-bred cattle operations, as well as a quarter horse breeding program. Home to Marvin's son, 2 of his grandsons, and 7 great grandsons, the ranch remains family owned and operated. That's why we say that Priefert products are "Built by Ranchers, for Ranchers."
The Proving Ground
The ranch is the first proving ground for the vast majority of Priefert products. As with that original headgate, many of the company's most successful ideas stem from the need to find a better way to accomplish something around the ranch. Once a need is identified, the concept is taken to Priefert's research and development team to create a prototype. These prototypes then go back to the ranch, where they are aren't just put into use, but are tested to their limits. A product idea may go back and forth between the ranch and the R&D team several times before it receives the green light to go into production.
The Ranch doesn't just serve as a source for new ideas, but it also provides the opportunity to fine tune existing products in keeping with current ranching practices and trends. As a working horse and cattle ranch, the operation is outfitted with a variety of Priefert products that are used daily. The Prieferts are able to operate and observe products over long periods of time, experiencing the day to day impact of these items the same way that their customers do. These observations have led to various product updates and modifications geared toward making daily ranch work easier and more efficient, such as modifying Priefert squeeze chutes to provide easier access to preferred cattle vaccination sites.
A Training Tool
Another great benefit of the ranch is that it serves as an important training tool for Priefert employees, dealers, and customers. The ranch is the setting for "Priefertization," an interactive 2-day training program that is designed to be equal parts motivational and educational. Each Priefertization class tours the production facility to see first-hand how Priefert products are made, witnessing each step of the process from raw material to finished good. This is followed by a hands-on training session where participants learn about a variety of products and ultimately get to work cattle on the ranch, using a Priefert sweep system and squeeze chute. Other aspects of the course include sessions focusing on the company's history and on marketing and merchandising support. For new employees, this program provides them with an impactful introduction to the family that they are joining. For dealers, Priefertization gives them the knowledge, confidence, and credibility that they need in order to be successful in selling Priefert products to an end user. Proven to increase sales, some dealers have reported an increase of 4-times their previous sales after sending employees to be "Priefertized."
As cattlemen themselves, the Priefert family also opens the ranch to the local extension agency, as well as other regional cattlemen's associations, to host field days, stockmanship clinics, and other education-based events. The ranch has played host to several cattle handling experts, including Dr. Ron Gill and Curt Pate, who have each offered safe cattle handling demonstrations to a variety of groups. The National Beef Quality Assurance program used the ranch as their primary filming location for a series of videos of beef cattle facility design and safe handling techniques. In these videos, the BQA utilizes Priefert equipment to illustrate how to design and setup BQA-approved corrals, sweeps, and squeeze chutes for cattle herds of all sizes.
Respect for the Land
More than a classroom, the ranch also serves as a teacher to those who live and work there. Today, it is helping to teach the fourth generation of the Priefert family the same lessons it taught their fathers - to respect the land and to enjoy the bounty that it has to offer. Marvin's grandsons, Eddie, Nate, and Travis, grew up helping take care of the livestock on the ranch and hunting the native wildlife. This love of the outdoors is now captured on their television show, Priefert's Backwoods Bloodline, which airs on the Sportsman Channel. The show follows the Priefert boys and their friends as they try to harvest a wide variety of game across North America. The show also focuses on the challenges associated with running the ranch and a successful livestock and rodeo equipment company. The title "Backwoods Bloodline" refers to the concept that this lifestyle is more than just a passion, it is an essential part of who the boys are, a part of their "bloodline;" and it is a value that they hope to pass down for generations to come.
Over the years, the ranch has been home to a number of equine celebrities. In 2002, the Priefert family purchased a six horse Percheron draft horse hitch and freight wagon from Brookhart's Lumber. Named Texas Thunder and based on the ranch, this performance hitch traveled the country for approximately 10 years, carrying the Priefert name from coast to coast. Appearances included top venues such as the Wrangler NFR, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Calgary Stampede, The National Western, and countless other rodeos, parades, and equestrian events. This award-winning hitch took home top honors at many major market parades and was named a Top 5 Specialty Act by the PRCA three times. In 2011, Priefert sold the hitch to longtime driver, Jason Goodman. He and the team are now based out of Nunn, CO.
The ranch is also home to some World Record holders. In 2003, Goliath, a wheel horse for the Texas Thunder hitch, was certified as the Tallest Living Horse by Guinness World Records. Goliath measured in at a height of 19 hands, 1 inch or 6' 5" tall at the withers. When not traveling with the hitch, Goliath traveled making individual appearances and garnered a substantial amount of media attention wherever he traveled. In 2006, a Belgian draft horse named Radar eclipsed Goliath's world record, standing 19 hands, 3.5 inches or 6' 7" tall. When the Priefert family called to congratulate Radar's owner on the new record, they jokingly offered to purchase Radar should the owner ever wish to sell him. A few weeks later, the owner called back and Priefert made good on that offer. Radar was moved to the ranch in Mt. Pleasant and eventually went on the road making appearances like Goliath. Radar has been featured on the Today Show, Oprah, Animal Planet, and countless newscasts. Although he held the record for Tallest Living Horse through September of 2009, Radar was retired from travel in the fall of 2008. In 2010, Radar was honored as a limited edition Breyer Model Horse.
The Ranch is also home to Kong, a Percheron draft horse that was immortalized as a Breyer Model in their 2011 lineup. Breyer selected Kong to represent the Texas Thunder team. Standing 19 hands high and weighing in at around 2400 lbs, Kong not only stood out because of his size, but was also selected based on the white blaze that runs down his face, making him easily recognizable among the other hitch horses. Kong traveled to Breyerfest in 2011 to celebrate the release of his model and was a huge hit among the fans there, helping his model to sell out by the second morning of the three day event. Kong is now retired and continues to reside on Priefert Ranch.
The Priefert family has been raising kids, cows, and quarter horses on their ranch in Mt. Pleasant, TX for many years. A lot has changed since that first headgate was built; the ranch has served as inspiration for some of Priefert's top products, it has served as both teacher and training tool, and has been home to the Priefert family and a variety of equine celebrities. Founder Marvin Priefert realized early on that "you have to put in the time if you are going to be successful," but it's doubtful that he could have ever imagined that his ranch, and the company he founded there, would have grown into what they are now. We think Marvin would be proud.