Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Tony Lopes is a 4th generation dairy farmer from Gustine, CA and has been involved in agriculture his entire life. From being involved in FFA as a young kid, and working alongside his parents helping manage their multi-site dairy business throughout high school, Tony's decision to continue his education at one of the only colleges in California to offer a degree in dairy science was an easy one. His time at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo gave him the incredible experience and knowledge he needed to effectively manage not only cows, but also employees. Ranging from being the president of the Los Lecheros Dairy Club, to hosting the highest averaging University consignment cow sales of all time, Tony took full advantage of getting involved with all that Cal Poly had to offer. After graduation in 2018 with a major in Dairy Science and an Ag Business minor, Tony returned to life on the dairy. While today he is still the Team Operations leader on the family dairies, managing 40 employees, he felt a pull to start some businesses of his own.
With a college degree, a supporting family, and a great network of people behind him, Tony started sustainiBeef LLC and Precision Genetic Solutions LLC in 2020. Tony believes that business is the best way to bring about the change you want to see in the world. With that being said, he took a progressive look at advancements in the industry he felt he could bring to others. sustainiBeef's scientifically-proven supply chain enables them to provide premium-quality, local beef direct from the family farm to your doorstep with up to 50% lower carbon emissions than traditional beef. Precision Genetic Solutions LLC brings genetic consulting to a new wave of dairy producers looking to drive future performance.
INTERVIEW W/ TONY LOPES
How did you get started in the agriculture industry?
"Growing up as the 4th generation on both sides of my family to dairy, and working alongside my parents and grandparents gave me a tremendous passion for the dairy industry and agriculture in general. Being able to produce food, provide gainful employment to our community members, and act as stewards of the land is tremendously rewarding."
Can you tell us a little bit about sustainiBeef and Precision Genetic Solutions?
"I started both of these companies in 2020.
sustainiBeef LLC combines stewardship and efficiency to provide high-quality Angus-Crossbred beef with a scientifically-verified lower net carbon footprint. Offering both a monthly-subscription and half-steer option, we provide our customers with an unparalleled eating experience tailored to their specific needs.
Precision Genetic Solutions LLC works with progressive dairy producers to drive future performance through genetic consulting and semen distribution. PGS leverages predictive analytics, economic modeling, and robust optimization software to ensure that every resulting pregnancy fits the producer’s strategic vision."
What made you decide to start your own business?
"With sustainiBeef, I wanted to share the sustainability story behind our production methods, and interact with our consumers in a more direct way to better serve them. With Precision Genetic Solutions LLC, I wanted to utilize the same analytics tools that are used in the human health and financial services industry to engineer a cowherd more specifically tailored to our needs in a California management system. In both cases, the goal was simply to find a better way to do things, and hope that customers saw value in that."
What has been your biggest challenge?
"Starting a business is an extremely rewarding and challenging process. I had no idea, just how much I would be pushed out of my comfort zone during the process of conceptualizing and launching a product and brand. As a start-up, there’s no historical baseline for you to determine demand or manage supply, inventory, and cash flow, so it really is a process of learning lessons the hard way."
How did Cal Poly help shape the kind of business man you are now?
"My education really helped develop my understanding of core business principles, and I learned a lot from the world-class faculty at Cal Poly, but I believe the most valuable thing I graduated with was a network of friends and associates that I continue to learn from and work with today. I was fortunate to meet and work alongside incredibly talented, intelligent, and ambitious people, and they still push and support me to grow and learn today."