In 1910 Will Crocker asked Sam to inspect and report on a ranch he owned in Merced. Will was the son of Railroad baron and Big Four industrialist Charles Crocker. Sam had net his nephew and ward Templeton at Yale.
The ranch was huge (65,000 acres) and had diverse businesses ranging from chicken and cattle to developments and a water company. Sam brought back his report to Crocker who must have been impressed. He hired Sam to run the place at a generous salary with staff, housing and a free rein. The ranch despite the many enterprises was unprofitable and Sam was bent on changing that.
He went through each operation learning the businesses of cattle ranching, water systems, developing real estate and running a large operation. He was 25 years old and on top of the world.