Meet Arizona Agriculture’s Balow Family

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: Balow Ranch Services is known as a reliable, family-owned business. The owner, Ephraim Balow, has a lifetime of agricultural experience and seven generations of agricultural roots in rural Arizona.

Ephraim Balow with one of his boys. 

Though his business is quite new compared to his generational family history in ranching, Balow has a commitment to integrity. As he says on their website, “We value your business and know that you are our most valuable asset. We know that you want quality product that you can depend on. We are proud to serve our community and the area ranches that make Arizona what it has always been.”

When you talk to Arizona Farm Bureau member Balow, you can tell he makes his customers and his relationships a priority. He hopes to have this link in ranching for at least a couple more generations in the family. With three boys and another child on the way, it looks like he and the business are on the way.

An ongoing series about Arizona agriculture’s farmers and ranchers.

Interview with Ephraim Balow of Skull Valley, Arizona.

Tell us about your agribusiness operation(s): We are in the ranch supply business. We do just about anything including fencing material, barbed wire, T-post, supplements, hay, salt, tank liners and even tires. We’ve been in business for about 8 years. We do a lot of retail hay sales.

We’re on the web as balowfarms.com.

I grew up on a ranch. But for much of my adult life, I was in the oil and well drilling fields. I wanted to do something where I was still in ranching … it’s in my blood.

We’re located in Skull Valley, southwest of Prescott 20 miles.

What changes have you seen in ranching in last 20 to 30 years? It seems like it’s getting tougher and tougher to ranch. There used to be more cooperation. Various government organizations used to be more cooperative, now however, it seems like several of these governmental agencies work at odds against ranching instead of supporting ranching that supports the best management efforts of the land.

The most rewarding part of the business is earning the respect of the Arizona ranchers. I feel like I am part of a team.

What is your educational background (i.e. Degree(s), certifications, honors)? I’ve taken some business classes.

Will anyone in your family – younger generation – pursue farming, ranching, or agribusiness? My wife, Christie, and my three sons will. I absolutely see my boys taking this into the next generation. I pack my kids with me all the time.

We plan on extending into cow/calf operation, in the future.

Ephraim Balow, in the blue denim shirt far left, with his dad, Buddy Balow, holding grandson Samuel Balow, represents the 97% of farm and ranch businesses that are family owned and operated. The young man to the far right is Ephraim's oldest son, Joshua Balow. 

What are your community activities? I’m Vice President of the Skull Valley Fire department. I’m, of course, a Farm Bureau member. The Fancher side of my family has been here in Arizona since 1852 and they were ranchers. Ranching is mostly what we’ve done.

What do you love the most about farming, ranching, or the agriculture industry in general? I’m a big believer that your reward in life is in direct connection to your service. The relationships and friendships I get to build are the most rewarding.

What do you enjoy doing, and what is one fact/achievement that nobody knows about you? I’m an aspiring banjo player … what I mean by aspiring, I can make two notes on it. I hope that by the time I’m 80 years old I will have mastered it.

Why are you a Farm Bureau member? The insurance is secondary to me. The Farm Bureau family represents salt-of-the earth people. If you’re going to fly with the eagles you can’t hang out with a bunch of turkeys. Farm Bureau is full of eagles. Mainly, I’m a Farm Bureau member because there are not many organizations out there that speak for us in the agriculture industry. There is such a huge gap of understanding and knowledge between those who grow and raise our food and those who consume our agriculture products.

I’m not as active in it as I should be but I believe in it.

A next-generation Balow, Ephraim suggests that the up-and-coming generation will be more tech savvy but suggests that business still needs to be customer facing. 

How will the next generation of agriculturalists have to operate? They’re going to have to be more tech savvy than me; but in the end, with all this social networking, there is nothing better than just going out and shaking hands and looking at your customer face-to-face. The people that are my customers are my friends, too. Whether or not they buy from me is secondary. I expect my friends to look for the best deal.

Plus, as business professionals, we have to stay on top the tax code. You really need to know your business. Every year the tax laws change.

What is the best business advice that you’ve received and/or have given? Or, what business-oriented advice would you give young farmers/beginning farmers? A favorite quote of mine is from Thomas Edison. He said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” It’s the main creed I live by.

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