Zay W. Gilbreath is highly respected in the beef industry, known as a man of ethics, and regarded by those he works with as a man of “high moral character.” After graduating from Dimmitt High School in 1958, Mr. Gilbreath attended Texas A&M, where a long line of successes began. He served as the President of the Agricultural Economics Club, as an Agricultural Representative to the Student Senate, was classified as a Major in the Corps of Cadets, and was the recipient of the “Wall Street Journal” award. After graduating from A&M in 1962, he attended Kansas State University where he received his Masters degree in 1963.
Upon graduation from Kansas State, Mr. Gilbreath began working in the Soybean Processing Division of Cargill Incorporated. After 13 years in this division, he transferred to Caprock Industries, a subsidiary of Cargill that is responsible for producing in excess of 600,000 head of fed cattle annually. In 1981, Mr. Gilbreath became President of Caprock Industries, a position he remained in until his retirement.
In addition to his work with Cargill, Mr. Gilbreath was involved in many associations and organizations. In the past, he served as the President of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association and as the President of Cattle Marketing Information Service, Inc. (Cattle Fax). He also served on the Board of Directors for the National Livestock and Meat Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.
In addition to service in the cattle industry, Mr. Gilbreath found time to serve as a guest lecturer for classes in the Agricultural Economics Department at Texas A&M University, including Dr. Seibert’s 481 Seminar class. After his first visit to AGEC 481 several years ago, he took Dr. Siebert aside and said, "John in order to really reach these young Aggies, you need to put them in smaller groups with former students!" With a focus on ethics in agriculture, the classes of over fifty students have since consisted of very small ethics lunches and dinners coordinated by Mr. Gilbreath and have included former students who have focused on moral behavior and personal reputation. These former students have been able to illustrate, by virtue of their past experiences, what a good reputation is worth. Also they have explained what a bad reputation can cost over the lifetime of one's career! With a large amount of his time and resources, Mr. Gilbreath, with his wife’s help, has been the driving force making this portion of the class possible. Since 2008, Mr. Gilbreath has acted as President of the College of Agriculture Development Council.
Mr. Gilbreath is married to Charlotte, and they have three sons and eight grandchildren.