In 1991 Tom and Nancy Murray started Muranda Holsteins in Waterloo, New York, with 90 milking cows. Today, not only do they milk cows, but they have a thriving cheese business called Muranda Cheese and an event center called the Barn at Muranda. Their path to success was marred by challenge, failure and hard work, but the couple never gave up. Not once.
Like many farms throughout the country, the Murrays saw the need to find a second revenue stream to stay in business. But instead of giving up, they figured one (or three) out.
“We started with 90 milk cows and we borrowed 100% of our financing to start, with no collateral,” Tom explains. “It was basically an opportunity for us to assume a mortgage on a farm and borrow the rest of the money to get started.”
An opportunity Tom was able to capitalize on because of his determination and the knowledge he had gained in previous experiences.
“When I graduated from high school, I went to Colorado. I had the opportunity to work at Paclamar Farms which, at the time in the 70s, 80s, was probably considered the world's most predominant breeding establishment for registered cattle,” Tom says.
He “learned at the hand of the master” and then came back to New York to attend SUNY Cobleskill and then went on to Virginia Tech to finish college. After college he moved to Hamilton, New York, where he met his wife.
“We got married and worked on her dad's farm in a partnership. They had a larger farm operation and they purchased a small tie-stall barn, which fit my expertise of registered cattle,” Tom explains. “We worked in a partnership for six years and then we decided after our children were born that we needed to make some different decisions for ourselves.”
So they started Muranda Holsteins. Today their farm includes a thriving cheese business as well as a gorgeous event venue.
Never Give Up
The road to success was really rocky for the Murrays. Tom says the secret has been determination, hard work, grit and guts. “I think it's a combination of things that make successful businesses everywhere,” Tom says. “But it is taking advantage of opportunities, taking risk, managing your debt and having a solid relationship with your lender that will keep you in the game.”
Listen to Tom’s full episode of The First Years below.
Do you know a first-generation farmer that I should interview on The First Years podcast? Let us know. Email email@example.com.