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The story behind one of the most dignified ranch brokers in Texas

05 Mar 2021
by Bownds Ranches

Through Bownds Ranches, Brandon Bownds puts his multi-generation legacy of ranching and real estate to work on behalf of his clients every day.

“It all goes hand-in-hand,” said Brandon, who is a fifth-generation rancher and a third-generation real estate broker based in Utopia. “You can read a book about something and figure out how to do it, but there’s no better way to gain knowledge—and no other way to gain firsthand knowledge—than by living it.”

Ranching, Real Estate and the River

Brandon is a proud Texan. The Kuykendall family, his mother’s people, were part of the Old 300, the original colonists who came to Texas under the leadership of Stephen F. Austin.

The first Bownds settled near Utopia on the Sabinal River in 1885. The family’s roots are deep in the rugged hills and rocky soil of Uvalde County.

“Except for a very short stint, I’ve always lived in sight of the Sabinal River,” said Bownds, noting that he has a soft spot for live water. “It’s not a stretch to say my life has been shaped by land and water.”

And entrepreneurship. . . His grandfather, John Bownds, opened the Bownds Real Estate Business in the early 1960s as a complement to the family’s commercial cattle operation. His father, Ronald Bownds, a geologist by degree, left the oilfields in the mid-1980s and returned to ranching and real estate in the late 1980s. Using a spring on the family ranch as the source, Ron also founded the successful Utopia Water Company.

“Dad started selling bottled water way before it was a thing,” Brandon said. “People looked at him like he was crazy—and now bottled water is just as big as Coca-Cola.”

Nestle-Perrier purchased the company in the mid-90s.

By the time Brandon graduated from high school in Utopia in 1996, the multi-sport athlete, steer showman and roper was also a seasoned ranch hand. He grew up in the tractor seat assisting with the family’s commercial hay operation and in the saddle helping with the family’s cattle operation that included a small feed lot.

“I remember pulling a gooseneck to San Angelo during an ice storm to pick up a bull,” Brandon said. “I just had a learner’s permit, but it needed to be done.”

He was also an entrepreneur in his own right.

“I started hauling hay for the public when I was 15,” Brandon said. “I found the jobs, hired the crews, collected the checks and paid everybody who worked for me.”

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A Legacy of Ranching and Real Estate