Small Business Spotlight : Four-Zag Hill
Four-Zag Hill is a family owned and operated dairy farm that supplies high-quality milk for the fluid market from its dairy farm in Columbia County. We spoke to owner Rosalie Zaginaylo to learn more about her story and how funding through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) program helped jumpstart her small business. The PIDA program provides low-interest loans and lines of credit to businesses that are expanding in or relocating to Pennsylvania and to support the development of industrial parks and multi-tenant facilities.
What inspired you to start this farm?
Four-Zag Hill is a direct reflection on my life and family history. I was born and bred into the agriculture industry growing up on my family’s farm as the fourth generation. Seeing, working with, and nurturing cows is who I am. Upon graduating high school, I was undecided about my next steps in life, but I knew one thing was for certain — I couldn’t see myself leaving agriculture behind.
I compared schools and settled on enrolling in Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences (PSU). I wanted a program with a strong dairy focus, and PSU offered more in agriculture for those with an experienced background in the industry. Between classes, I honed my dairy skills by working as a student employee at the Penn State Dairy. That experience, along with an acquired bachelor’s degree, led me to an assistant herd manager position at a large neighboring farm. This was a stepping stone, with the ultimate goal being able to return to my family’s farm.
In 2008, I returned home to help operate our 555 acres. I managed the herd with my mom while my dad handled the crop work. Seven years later I took over the dairy operation, and that’s when the concept of Four-Zag Hill began to take shape.
How did you the farm get your concept off the ground?
Four-Zag Hill was built from the ground up. Not only did I need financial assistance in building the barn, I needed to purchase land. Support from state, federal, and private partners allowed Four-Zag Hill to transform my dream into reality.
A financing partnership effort with First Columbia Bank and Trust and USDA-Farm Service Agency allowed me to buy a 133-acre parcel from my parents. To assist in the dairy barn’s construction, I worked with the SEDA-Council of Governments to submit an application to DCED for a loan from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), and received a $273,000, 15-year loan with a 3.75 percent interest rate.
Four-Zag Hill broke ground in October 2015 and moved cows in that following spring. The barn is 20,000 square feet and at capacity houses 85 cows. Featuring natural ventilation, it’s strictly designed for cow comfort and labor efficiency.
Over the past two years I’ve already seen tremendous improvement in labor and production efficiency. The cows are showing a 2,000-pound increase in milk on average over their lactation period. We are also seeing our older cows thrive in their open environment. I’m looking forward to seeing my business grow, hiring employees, and training the next generation of PA farmers.
What makes you proud to operate in Pennsylvania?
My great-grandfather immigrated to the states from Ukraine, and my grandmother came here from Poland. They settled their family in Berwick and started with a farm that has become a part of my family’s heritage. Over the years, their son and grandson expanded the family farm to its current 555 acres. Continuing my great-grandparents’ vision and investing in my family’s farm as a fourth-generation farmer is a goal I’m proud to achieve.
I’m also proud to contribute to my rural community. PA is a top-ranking state in total milk production, and every nine cows support one job. There also aren’t a lot of women operating their own farms, so going into business is a unique experience, and I take pride in that.
My cows are my family, and I treat them as if they were my own kids. I’m thankful my grandparents and parents set me up for success, and I’m glad to have this opportunity. It’s good to come back home.
The Small Business Spotlight is a monthly series every second Saturday that highlights businesses and entrepreneurs who are positively impacting their local community.
To learn more about the PIDA program and how you can apply, visit the DCED website. Interested in starting your own business or looking for advice on your current business operation? Visit the PA Business One-Stop Shop to learn more about operating and growing a business in PA. Continue to stay up-to-date with all of Pennsylvania’s latest news and program announcements by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter or following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Rosalie Zaginaylo is the owner and operator of Four-Zag Hill, an 85-Holstein dairy farm in Briar Creek Township. A fourth-generation farmer, Rosalie studied Animal Science with a focus on Business Management at Penn State University.