About Southern Cattle Company
John Downs and Lamont Ennis
John Downs began Southern Cattle Company nearly 24 years ago. With several successful steel business ventures under his belt, he fulfilled a lifelong dream and purchased the first cattle and original 400 acres of SCC in 1992, where the headquarters now stand. What was meant to be just a hobby farm, SCC has turned into one of the most respected operations in the south, with a nationally recognized herd and a respected history of advancing the profitability of the industry for the benefit of cattlemen around the world. Today, with a pragmatic look at his age, Mr. Downs has decided to retire and has enlisted Southern Property Connection, Inc., and Jon Kohler & Associates to lead the search for a new steward. Don't let Mr. Downs' retirement fool you. His enthusiasm has not slowed and he continues to embrace new opportunities, expand his landholdings, and improve on the land.
The youngest of nine children, John Downs was born in central Alabama to tenant farmers. His earliest memories include waking up at four o'clock each morning to tend to household chores before heading into the fields. As a young man hoeing cotton on those hot summer days, John Downs made the decision that if he could escape the cotton field, he would never return.
I love good land and good animals. If I were 40, I'd be doubling down on this ranch and finding an excuse to convert the rest of the timberland to cattle! - John Downs
At 18, Mr. Downs got his first public job with Gamble Steel Co. in Montgomery, Alabama. The ethics of hard work learned in that cotton field began paying off. Promotions and new opportunities came quickly as his motto, "I may not be the smartest, but I can work the hardest," kept a steady drumbeat. In 1976, with a wife and three children to support, he took the leap and purchased a red barn in Webb, Alabama, and with $10,000, he began what is now Qualico Steel Company. With the help of family and other partners, Downs' steel business has expanded to seven steel-related companies in three states employing over 500 team members. Five of these steel companies are in Dothan, which include Covenant Steel, QSI, Service Machine Co., and All South Pre-Engineered Components. Downs is a partner in Allsouth Urgent Care, which has three locations in Dothan.
A man of faith, John Downs' life could be considered successful by many, but he knows success has only been possible because God has directed his steps. This year, John and Margaret Downs celebrate 52 years of marriage. Their children, grandchildren, and one great grandchild, are his greatest joy. This year, the Dothan-area Chamber of Commerce inducted Mr. Downs into the Business Hall of Fame.
For the past ten years, Lamont Ennis has been the General Manager for Southern Cattle, and is credited for keeping the operations running smooth on this complex farm. He's been the driving force behind the advancements of the herd and accomplishments of the ranch. Most notably, some of the feed-efficiency studies on selected breeds conducted in concert with the University of Florida Research Center which is located just outside of nearby Greenwood are changing the bottomline for cattlemen around the world. These studies involve a very controlled food intake of each subject animal, and the weight gain is charted against the intake of feed and water. From this, specific ratios of weight gain for various feed formulas for different breed stock can be determined. The research teams, along with Southern Cattle Company, have achieved some astounding results in reducing feed cost and at the same time increasing weight gain through genetic selections.