Affiliates in Their Own Words

 
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Aaron and Jackie Swailes' operate their targeted grazing business out of Iowa City, Iowa. Aaron and Jackie worked for Goats On The Go, LC for two years as a subcontractor before becoming a licensed affiliate, so they have a unique perspective on the business of targeted grazing and working with GOTG.

What were the biggest factors in your decision to become a Goats On The Go affiliate?
"The most important factor is the brand and it's recognition. People seem to know about the brand wherever Jackie and I go...it's very well known. Generally people who know about the concept (of targeted grazing) know about Goats On The Go. Two, I would say the Steele's and the Steenhoek's (GOTG's founders) are major reasons why I would rather be an affiliate than do it myself. I feel like I can trust them and things are going to work out...something you have to have for a business relationship and I feel secure in that."

How do you feel about the business potential in your market?
"I'm very confident, especially with the counties in our territory. There is a growing concern about the use of chemicals to control noxious weeds, and I think we're on the forefront of making targeted grazing a sustainable practice, so I think the timing is there, and the area that Jackie and I are serving has a strong demographic of people that are environmentally concerned. The rough landscape with invasive vegetation is there...and they want to restore it, so the potential is there, the mindset is there, and there is the right income in our market. We'll have more than enough business to fill our schedule."

Why not do it yourself?
"I don't like to do the marketing, it's not one of my strong suits, so that's why I'm an affiliate...so I can focus on all the other aspects of the business that I enjoy. I think I get a head start because I get to work under the brand...if I were starting fresh by myself I wouldn't have any of that going for me. It's nice to join alongside an effort that's already going. Being an affiliate gives me assurance that I have support for things that I'm struggling with. And, it gives me access to probably the best network there is for information about targeted grazing but also for raising goats, which can be difficult. I'm not sure anybody has that figured out, at least at a commercial scale. So that really excites me. But I'm still owning my own business and it's nice to have the control and the freedom to do what we want, yet we still know what everyone else (in the affiliate network) is doing...so we know if we're too far out or maybe even under-pricing our services."

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Lydia and Peter Whitman's targeted grazing business serves Clinton and the Quad Cities area on the Iowa - Illinois border. The Whitman's are active in Farm Bureau at both the state and national levels, and Lydia saw commercial grazing as a way to add a new source of revenue to an established farming operation. 

What made you decide to become a Goats On The Go affiliate?
"I was watching television and caught the Farm Bureau Iowa Minute, and they were highlighting Goats On The Go. I was really intrigued and called Iowa Farm Bureau, and tracked down their contact information so I could learn more. How can you make money off of goats eating people‚Äôs weeds?

I grow corn and soybeans, and have a beef cow-calf herd, and the reality is the markets have been staying fairly tight. I was looking for opportunities to diversify the operation, ideally touching an unreached market group beyond the basic farming community. Goats On The Go had a solid track record of success with their business model and were willing to let me partner with them to develop the same service in Eastern Iowa. This led me to officially becoming an affiliate and branching out to prescribed grazing and raising goats."

What appealed to you about the affiliate program?
"The greatest strengths are the resources available through the website, brand name recognition, contacts, and marketing tools. I appreciate that Goats On The Go is forward thinking in their use of mobile applications for affiliate members, and a well crafted website. I would much rather focus on the customer relations and animal husbandry than drafting up documents."

What are you excited about as you head into the grazing season with your new business?
"I am excited to let this new adventure really hit the road, seeing how it works to use the temporary fencing and goat rotation. I am planning to do a test run of things in the backyard of a local nursing home around Easter time so the residents can watch the baby goats frolicking in the grass.

I am also excited for the national exposure Goats On The Go has received through Iowa Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau Federation. Brand power will exponentially grow as word of mouth and visibility develops with nationally based affiliates."

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Gordon Rule is a retired Marine and businessman from Wilson, Oklahoma. He recently purchased a small farm in bad need of goats for its own management, and he sees being a GOTG affiliate as a way to generate immediate revenue as he grows his herd and improves his property. In preparation for owning goats, Gordon has attended several conferences and university extension programs on meat goat production.

What made you decide to become a Goats On The Go affiliate?
"The opportunity to increase income with only 20 to 30 goats (which is about the maximum I can expect to support on my 20 acres), was very important. I'll be able to incorporate my clients' acres into my rotational grazing of my own limited acres. Also, I can spread the same fixed costs of vehicle, trailer, and equipment required for my own goat enterprise over the additional Goats On The Go business."

What appealed to you about the affiliate program?
"I like the training and support based on GOTG's experience in the business - what had worked, and what had not. Also, having the unified brand identity of an established, legitimate service with proven results, plus the possibility of referrals from GOTG's website is really important."

"I'm looking forward to the ongoing networking among the principals and affiliates, and the model promotional tools, pricing structure, sales forms, and contracts will help me hit the ground running. The discounts on fencing and equipment are really helpful, too."

What are you excited about as you head into the grazing season with your new business?
"The opportunity for a quicker return on my investment, as I am just starting my goat operation, by providing a targeted grazing service...and, I'm excited to show and educate the public, in a visible way, on the benefits of using goats for brush control instead of chemicals and burning."