Bill Zahn, 2012 Hopkins County Dairy Festival Parade Marshall
Zahn Named Parade Marshall
For 53rd Annual Dairy Festival Parade
by: Bobby McDonald
"He's probably observed the dairy industry from almost every angle!" expressed Dairy Festival Board members as they named, local Agri-Businessman, William "Bill" Zahn as the Parade Marshall for the 53rd Annual Hopkins County Dairy Festival Parade, that will wind its way down the streets of Sulphur Springs, on Saturday morning.
And, with an interview, with Mr. Zahn, on Wednesday, it was quickly apparent, that he's spent a number of days observing the dairy industry, and knows all about the "rises and falls" in the dairy marketplace.
Although Mr. Bill Zahn, arrived in Hopkins County, in 1976, when he purchased the feed store, known as Feeder's Supply, he already had a deep dairy knowledge. "I grew-up on a 23 cow Holstein dairy farm, in Lomira, Wisconsin," expressed Zahn. "I knew what milking cows was all about, at a very early age!"
Zahn, however, was "smarter" than some of the rest of us, and he attended Platteville University, in nearby Plateville, Wisconsin, obtaining a Dairy Science Degree, and embarked on a 13 year career in dairy feed research, working for Central Soya Company, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. When the opportunity became available to move to Texas and purchase the local feed store, Zahn and his wife, Charlotte, moved to Hopkins County with their two small sons, and embarked on another "adventure," related to the dairy industry.
"Back in 1976, when I purchased Feeder's Supply, 98% of my customer base was dairy farmers," allowed Zahn. "The store had a volume of approximately $1 million in sales, and over the course of 35 years we grew the business to a customer volume of $22 million dollars in sales, and the industry had changed to reflect a base of 60% dairy feeds and 40% beef cattle ingredients, before we sold out in 2011."
"You can see what the industry did, during those 35 years, locally!" continued Zahn. "There were many 'ups and downs' in the dairy market and the industry here in Northeast Texas changed!"
"But, I want to add that Hopkins County continues to be a very, very viable dairy producing area in the state and region and continues to be one of the largest agri-business service centers in the state. We have great land prices, environmental conditions, and a great place to grow and produce forages, that still makes agri-business a big influence on our local economy. And, we have a number of dairy producers who have converted their operations to beef cattle production, and continue to add mega-bucks to the local economy!"
Zahn has served his family, his customers, and the community, since arriving in Hopkins County, back in 1976. He's served in numerous capacities at Our Savior Lutheran Church, where he attends regularly; he's served on the Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Board; served in the Professional Ag Workers organization; and in the Hopkins County Marketers Association.
"The dairy industry, Hopkins County, and her residents have been very, very good to me and my family," reflects Zahn. "Charlotte and I couldn't have made a better decision than moving to Hopkins County, over thirty-five years ago!"
Zahn, who married his high school sweetheart, back 51 years ago in rural Wisconsin, continues to be involved in agri-business,as his son, David Zahn and wife, Angela, who worked with them in the feed business, are now involved in a beef cattle operation in northeastern Hopkins County, where they use the NETBIO program in marketing their livestock.
"The NETBIO organization was one of the best moves that Hopkins County leaders made, to help sustain and advance the beef cattle industry, in the area," states Zahn. "It is providing markets at a premium price for local beef cattle producers, giving them the advantage of adding value to their sales and will continue to pay big dividends in the local marketplace!"
Bill and Charlotte's other son, Phillip, is involved in the medical field in nearby Ft. Worth, and they are proud to be "close" here in Sulphur Springs, to help "spoil" David and Angela's son, Cameron, as he is active in school activities, local sports, and other interests!
"I'm proud to say I live in Hopkins County, and am honored to lead Saturday's parade, as a representative of the many, many people who have seen the benefits of the dairy and livestock industry in Hopkins County," expressed Bill Zahn. "We're very, very fortunate that some very foresighted individuals capitalized on the market and brought the industry to Hopkins County, back in the 1930's, and that a number of dairy leaders have continued to advance the industry in a number of ways, throughout the succeeding years, from bankers, veterinarians, feed suppliers, dairy equipment dealers and those men and women who rise early and go to bed late on the local dairy farms! My hat's off to everyone involved in this industry!"