At 21 years of age, Wolfgang Albarran, a native of Mexico City, immigrated to the U.S. with the goal of saving enough money return and start a business in Mexico.
However, as time passed and after facing several challenges and learning from those experiences, that idea gradually transformed into a new plan.
Wolfgang began working as a milker on a Colorado dairy where his brother-in-law was working. He later moved to Kansas to work on another dairy. After 10 years of working in the cold, wintry weather, he decided to move and work at a New Mexico dairy.
Four years later, the dairy owner moved his operation to California and offered Wolfgang a job there, but Wolfgang decided to stay in New Mexico. Soon after, he started working for Isaac Bos, owner of Bos Dairy North and Bos Dairy South.
Wolfgang is now the manager of Bos Dairy North in Lovington, New Mexico. At this dairy, 2,650 cows are milked three times a day during two shifts.
Wolfgang’s job as manager varies from day to day, consisting of managing the dairy, maintaining herd health, managing the employees and managing feed. He reached this level of work by having patience and taking his job one step at a time. However, his ideas regarding his work and future were not always the same.
“To be honest, my primary goals when I came to the U.S. were to save enough money to start my own business in Mexico and buy a pick-up truck,” he says.
While living in Chihuahua, the state in Mexico where his wife is from, Wolfgang had planned to start a small feedlot. He also planned to grow crops on 50 acres of his father-in-law’s property. However, as the years went by, Wolfgang began establishing a career in the U.S.
While learning about all areas of the dairy industry throughout his career, Wolfgang says he faced many challenges, one of the greatest being himself and his attitude.
“It’s like this – you are working and suddenly you feel like you’re the only one, the best and there is no one that can harm you or knock you down. It’s just being arrogant,” he says. “I was very prideful, which didn’t help me at all.”
Wolfgang explains how that wasn’t the best time for him or his career. At that point, he says he still had to learn from his mistakes to become a better worker and better understand other workers, not on a professional level but a moral one.
Other problems that he has faced on the farm include maintaining calf health, battling mastitis and reducing the somatic cell count. In order to solve these problems though, Wolfgang realized that it was necessary to obtain a certain level of education.
He is thankful to his family for their support and helping him learn English. In Mexico, he studied at a vocational school but decided not to continue his education at a university.
“I believe that the educational system that we have in Mexico shows you how to be a worker, but it doesn’t push you to become a manager or business owner,” he says. “The ideology that we have in those schools, or at least personally, is that we are being trained to become just another worker ant on an anthill – not to succeed in the workplace. Rather, you are taught to become just an ordinary worker.”
Wolfgang, however, sought out and pursued his own opportunities. He explains how it is necessary for Hispanics, or any person from a foreign country, to create their own opportunities in the workplace, regardless of how difficult it may be.
Wolfgang hopes to someday have his own dairy or become a partner of a dairy. First though, he wants to learn more about the economics of a dairy, including the financial management. A few of Wolfgang’s current goals include expanding his dairy and the number of milking cows and raising replacement heifers. Above all work goals, he says he would like to have a clean farm, a healthy farm and a content family.
“My primary personal goal, though, is to keep my family happy,” he says. “Sometimes it is difficult to spend the same amount of time with family as you do working on the dairy.”
After reflecting on his past experiences, the advice Wolfgang gives to other workers is for each of them to improve themselves, obtain an education and to not settle.
“I would advise them to not fear challenges, to take them on, conquer them and keep going on to the next step,” he says. “When you reach that next step, think that there are two more ahead. That way you don’t settle for what you have and instead keep moving forward.”
Of all the tasks on a dairy, Wolfgang says he enjoys herd health the most. He explains that cows are the ones that pay all of the dairy workers’ expenses.
“I am very proud of my dairy,” he says. “I know that this is not an easy job. It is an everyday job where you have to constantly push yourself hard everyday, in every direction.” EL
TOP RIGHT AND LEFT: Wolfgang is the manager at Bos Dairy North in Lovington, New Mexico. Photos by Sal Gomez.
MIDDLE RIGHT: Family photo (left to right), back row: Leslie, daughter; Helena, daughter-in-law; Wolfgang, Jr.; Ashley, daughter; Melanie, daughter. Front row: Wolfgang & Maria with grandchildren Isaiah and Joshua. Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Albarran.