What is your name and where are you from?
Name: Tony De Mello
Hometown: Corona, California
When did you start working for All West, what is your current title, and where do you work?
Start Date: January 31, 2002
Title: All West PGA Coordinator / Sales Representative / SMS Evaluator
Location: Turlock, CA
How did you get involved in the AI industry?
“I have always had a great love for dairy cattle. I was born in Corona, California which was a big dairy community in Southern California at that time. My family purchased a dairy in the Turlock area in 1969 when I was very young and started a mixed breed commercial herd of cows.
One of my greatest influences early on was my grandfather, who to this day I credit to be one of the greatest cow men I’ve ever known. I used to come up to the central valley with him to purchase cattle for Southern California dairymen at auctions up here. A lot of my childhood memories were spent with him at the auction yards, selecting cattle and learning about type and cows that would make good production cows for commercial dairymen. My Godfather, who also owned registered cattle, would also take me to sales and that’s how I started learning about pedigrees in cattle and met a lot of people in the registered Holstein industry at a really young age.
I couldn’t wait to for that first 4-H project that I could buy and get involved in breeding cattle. The first calf I bought was from a lady in the Turlock area. She had a small herd of registered Holsteins called Youngtown Holsteins. That first calf I owned led in to Chairein Rubens Parade-Red, my red Holstein who was named Grand Champion Female at World Dairy Expo 2004 and also Grand Champion Cow. She descended back to the very first project calf I ever had.
Being involved in 4-H, I learned a lot of dairy cattle judging skills. One of my very first judges was Kathy Duarte, who now lives in Wisconsin. I really fell in love with judging and learning how to speak about cattle and selection. I went on in to high school where I was on the state winning dairy judging team and was high individual in the state. We then went on to become the national champion team, as well. I continued to judge at the collegiate level while attending Merced Junior College and we went on to win the national contest with my team at that level, too.
After college, I bred a lot of Very Good and Excellent cows and also had bulls go in to the A.I. industry. I had a Red Holstein bull by the name of MELLO-D ABSTRACT-RED who was the highest red TPI bull for Sire Power, which eventually became part of the Select Sires family.
In the early 1990’s, I was hired by a competitor company to work with their young sire program, which was similar to Select Sires PGA Program. I did that for a little over a year, while getting very involved in the international side of the business. I hosted tours when we had guests, then I started going overseas myself to mate cows and put on presentations about our bulls.
In the early 2000’s, I judged a lot of shows internationally in nearly 12 countries around the world. I was also a sire analyst for that company and purchased some bulls that went on to be the ranked with the top ten and top fifty TPI bulls of the breed.
I took a break from the A.I. industry for one year following all of that international work. I was visiting with local dairyman and All West/Select Sires manager Bill Genasci, who mentioned an opening for All West. This was yet again a position to manage the young sire program, as PGA Coordinator. I knew All West had the type of atmosphere where everybody had a voice. It’s a company where I looked around and people were there until they retired or death! Once you were there, you were always there at All West! It was a known fact in the industry. I took that job with All West/Select Sires nearly 20 years ago. It has definitely been a big part of my life and something I thoroughly enjoy. It’s kind of like a family. There are times when we’re mad at each other. There are times when we like each other. But when chips are down, we all come together and we support each other in what we do.”
Describe a typical day in your life on the job.
“A typical day for me can vary in many ways. First of all, I’m an early starter. I am usually up at three-thirty of four o’clock in the morning. I also have livestock at home that I take care of, animals to milk, calves to feed. I get my stuff done to get on the road by five or six o’clock in the morning.
If it’s a day where I was doing set work, sometimes I had to be catching cows at five in the morning and I would spend all day with the Holstein classifier looking at daughters of bulls and that could go until three or four in the afternoon. That kind of schedule could go on for several weeks back in the day. I even remember doing sets with one of our All West managers, Rory White, when he was a Holstein classifier at eleven o’clock at night! Some of those days got really long. A typical PGA herd visit would consist of pulling daughter reports off of the computer and going to look at specific daughters of new or upcoming bulls.
Now since times have changes, the work day has gotten a bit shorter. A typical day may consist of sets in the morning followed by sales in the afternoon or semen and nitrogen deliveries. It depends on what goes on and where you are needed.
I have a very active clientele. They really keep me on the run! I get involved in a lot of activity with 4-H and FFA because I have been such a big part of that, so when clients ask for help with those projects, I am more than willing to help them. That is one of the neat things about our team. A lot of All West employees have a wide range of talents whether they’re skilled at showing cattle, clipping cattle, breeding cattle, or other skills. We’re available and flexible in the duties of our jobs. We are probably one of the last companies that is a family as much as our customers are our family. We work together. As our tagline goes, Your Success is Our Passion! We strive to put in extra effort and are involved with many different aspects of our client’s operations. I feel like all of the dairies I service are my dairies and they feel like I am an extra employee. We really care and we really have a passion for our people and what they do and that makes it successful for both of us. That is probably our greatest asset as a company.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?
“Even when I’m not at work, I spend a lot of my spare time with cows. I also apply my cattle genetic knowledge to other species, including my dogs, cats, and breeding dairy goats. I currently have the highest scored production goat herd in the country.
I also make time to pick up bull books, look at magazines, and read new information because as All West employees, we are seen as a wealth of knowledge and people like to talk to us about industry information, new programs, milk prices, and more. Other than what we are there specifically to do, we need to have a wide range of information available to dairy operations. To a lot of dairy producers, we are their best friends and a lot of times, the only people they see are a couple of us salespeople. Those of us who can provide them with information and knowledge certainly gain respect on their team. I like having that respect from those people in my job. It really makes it worthwhile.
On the rare occasion that I am not with cows or goats, I enjoy listening to good music, traveling to new places, wine tasting, and being anywhere near the ocean.”
If it was your choice, what unique name would you give our next best-selling bull?
RESILENCE or PERSEVERANCE
What is your favorite part of your job?
“I am able to work with a variety of different people, helping them breed better cattle to improve their herds, their production, and their life. By doing that, it also improves my life and the life of everybody in my company. I like the challenges that my job has being that I am not tasked with one specific duty. I might be mating. I might be doing sales. I might be helping somebody with a herd check or reproductive problem. It’s not one of those mundane jobs where you do the same thing over and over every day.
I do miss the old days when we would spend three or four months out of the year just looking at young sire daughters, but now with genomics, we are doing a lot less of that type of work. As that has evolved, I am now working more towards going in to sales, which I really enjoy. I like the challenge of meeting with people, seeing what they have, seeing what kind of genetics they need, and helping them breed a better herd with all the tools we have today. I do feel like at Select Sires, we have such a wide range of bulls. We keep a variety and a big wealth of bulls which we can choose from for all of the different dairies we service.
The way I look at it, we each have our clients. I feel like I have my own business within a business. All West is there to support me and give me the tools that I need, but they are my clients to take care of and manage. I am allowed the freedom to take care of those people and do what I feel is best. When I need help, I know who I need to call on, and I can get the support from management or other staff members to do what I need to do. We’re not micro-managed. Trust is placed in us to allow us to do what we do best and that is how I work best.”