Ranch Staff: An Absentee Landowner’s Most Valuable Asset

By: Rob Grainger, Sales Associate, Republic Ranches, Featured in Land Investor Magazine Volume 8

Whether it be a small recreational getaway, a vast hunting ranch, or a large commercial operation, most landowners take pride in the land they own. And to be frank, you should take pride in land ownership. You’ve worked hard to acquire it, and now you have it. At this point, the question for most people is, “How do I take care of it?” Over the years, I have been involved in the ownership, brokerage, management, and staffing of ranches across the Central and Southern United States. I have witnessed and experienced the headaches that land ownership may present when you are absent daily. Regardless of the type of farm or ranch land you own, there is a very common theme I see across all varieties—the crippling effects of leaving your land unattended. In most circumstances, the land and its improvements need to be maintained, and sometimes we just can’t get to it.

Let me paint a picture for you. I’m a terrible artist, so I will use words. You have bought or inherited a piece of property that’s not in your backyard, and now you are faced with the task of the upkeep. This should not keep you from enjoying your new slice of heaven, or the one you grew up running around. But we need to place emphasis on the maintenance, goals and objectives of the property. The yard won’t mow itself; the roads won’t stop growing up; the feeders won’t fill themselves… you get the picture. But rest assured, the person that will gladly make this their job, full or part-time, is out there. We as landowners owe it to the land to keep it up.

I am fortunate to have founded Grainger Ranch Recruiting, a farm and ranch recruiting service, and am blessed with the opportunity to provide solutions for landowners across the country, for all varieties of properties. If you look around, there are thousands of qualified, loyal and hard-working folks who have made a career, or more so a life, tending to land and the assets that sit atop and underneath it. Some of them grew up in ranching and farming communities, while others attended colleges in agricultural and wildlife-related fields. We’re even focusing heavily on hospitality management when looking for staff on ranches with high-end lodges, where guest relations are of utmost importance. It’s amazing the minds that are managing properties in this great country. 

As this is not a traditional staffing scenario, you may believe that it is hard to find a person with the qualities and qualifications to meet your needs and goals. It certainly can be difficult at times, but there are avenues by which you can find them. First and foremost, speak to the local community. Your neighbors—folks at the feed stores and diners—will be a huge resource. They will traditionally be in tune with who may be looking for a job locally. If the search needs to extend outside of town, you can post jobs on appropriate forums, and begin the weed-out process. I am always an email or a phone call away, and I or my team will perform the search.

I traditionally categorize positions on ranches in the following ways: Ranch Manager, Assistant Manager, Foreman, Ranch Hand, and Caretaker. One could get carried away with the different categories of farm and ranch staff, but it is important to identify your needs and put someone on the property who is helping you keep it up. Depending on the skill level you need, you may be looking at a part-time employee, or an on-site, full-time manager. That is up to you. Regardless of whom you look for, if you don’t have the time or the desire to fulfill the duties of property upkeep, let a qualified individual be your boots on the ground. I promise you will have a weight lifted off your shoulders. Do a service to yourself and the property; place someone on your ranch to take away the worry and burden. Give the land the proper care it needs to stay great. Protect and improve the asset you own.