The American Dream Farm

First Financial Bank
Bruno and Ada Ramirez share their journey from a small Mexican town to operating a successful poultry farm in North Carolina.

Can you tell us your story about how you got into poultry farming?

Bruno: I first came to the United States from Mexico in 1986 under a sponsored worker program to help harvest potatoes and sweet potatoes in Texas. Later, I was hired in California to work in an orange orchard.

Ada: I was able to join him under that program in California in 1989 and we both worked in the orchard until 1991. Then Bruno received an offer from a friend and fellow countryman he had met during his early days in Texas. His friend wanted to sponsor Bruno to come to North Carolina to play soccer! Bruno played a year of division three soccer in Mexico before coming to the US. If we moved to North Carolina for Bruno to play soccer, his friend would also help us navigate the permanent residency process and find jobs. We took that offer!

Bruno: We went to work on a poultry farm that produced eggs for Perdue, learning the business from the ground up. In 1995, we took new positions with Thompson Poultry, a specialist in poultry vaccinations for Perdue. Over the next 18 years at Thompson Poultry, we worked hard. We earned our citizenship, while gaining more knowledge and experience about all aspects of the poultry business. We started to save and have bigger aspirations, eventually realizing that we had the knowledge and the capacity to start our own business. On November 26, 2012, we started our own farm: The American Dream Farm.

Image of two poultry houses painted red, white and blue with headline above "The American Dream Farm".

Can you tell us about working with Zac Bray and the First Financial Bank team over the past 10 years?

Bruno: Zac is good, honest, sincere, and truly wants to help farmers. Our experience has been excellent and very positive. In the beginning, we also worked with another member of the team who was helpful in getting us up and going.

Tell us about your children. Do any of them work with you on the American Dream Farm or on their own farms?

Ada: We have four children. Our eldest son earned a PhD in American Literature and teaches at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Our eldest daughter holds a master’s degree in psychology and works in Durham. Our younger daughter completed her bachelor’s degree in secondary education, and instead of teaching high school, decided to join us on the farm. Our youngest son works as a supervisor at Thompson Poultry (where we once worked) and then works with us in the afternoons. His wife works with us full-time. We have six grandchildren, all under the age of ten. The two oldest already help on the farm, collecting eggs.

Which poultry integrator do you work with? What have you learned from working with them?

Bruno: We work with Perdue. We’ve learned how to manage and care for chickens and how to run a successful farm with good production. We learned proper care and feeding of the chickens. As owners, we are also supervisors, laborers, maintenance workers, and more. Neither of us came from a poultry farming background and we learned everything through hands-on experience.

Our farm now has three houses with 45,000 animals.

What was your biggest challenge? Any advice you’d like to give people who may be considering starting their own poultry farm?

Bruno and Ada Ramirez standing in front of a blooming rhododendron bush smiling for camera. Bruno's arm is around Ada's shoulders and Ada is holding one of the blooms from the bush.Bruno: Our biggest challenge was to decide to start our own poultry farm and not knowing if we were making the right decision. It’s a tremendous responsibility. We put our faith in God and our savings into the hands of First Financial. It was worth it! We are very blessed and have no complaints.

Ada: This is a great business, but it is hard work 24/7. The chickens must be fed and cared for every single day. However, because we are the owners, we never stop working. We miss family celebrations and holidays, or celebrate them at odd times. Some days start as early as 5:00 am and end when the work is finished. During peak season, we collect 33,000 eggs daily. Having your own business changes your life. You work hard, but with lots of love because it’s yours.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Bruno: We came from a very small town in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. When we were young, we had no drinkable water, food, shoes, or clothing. We came to the United States for a chance at a better life and to leave behind the extreme poverty of our youth. Thompson Poultry and Perdue gave us the chance to learn, work and excel. We give thanks to God every day for the opportunity to reach our American Dream. We painted our buildings red, white and blue to honor our adopted country’s flag. Starting out, there were a lot of tears, but now those are tears of joy. We are so very grateful to First Financial for helping to make our dream come true. We arrived in North Carolina with nothing but a pot for cooking eggs. We are truly blessed and thankful.

Do you dream about owning your own poultry farm? Get some tips about how to get ready here. Ready to take the next step and talk to a loan officer? Let’s chat.

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