The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Top Producer. It corresponds with the article "Eternal Wisdom." You can find the article in Top Producer’s Spring 2013 issue.
In 2000, Top Producer began its Top Producer of the Year contest. Every year since, one outstanding producer has been recognized. Below are some words of advice from these successful producers.
Marty Klinker of Fairfield, Mont.
When Marty Klinker was named the first-ever Top Producer of the Year, he was not yet 40. He was young enough to have ambitious goals, and old enough to know it would take a strong business plan to reach those goals. One of his stated goals was to have $1 million of structured debt by the time he was 30, so he would be worth more than $1 million when he turned 50. "Everything I had needed to be an income-producing asset," he says. "I wanted structured, not obnoxious, debt. I wasn’t afraid of debt, and I’m not now either."
Klinker says he has many sayings that he is constantly repeating to his employees and kids. They refer to them as "Martyisms." One of his favorites is: egos let a lot of things happen that common sense should never allow. "That transcends everything," he says. "I tell people that all the time. It works in finances, purchases, relationships, family battles, everything."
Ben Riensche of Jesup, Iowa
"Swing for the fences," says Ben Riensche of Blue Diamond Farming Company. "I’m not saying you should forget about managing risk, but set your sights higher than you can imagine. You might just get there." The 2001 Top Producer of the Year says his thinking in the early years was shaded by the events of the 1980s and early 1990s, and that he reached his goals much faster than he ever anticipated.
Riensche also encourages young producers to build a quality peer network. "Include the best farmers you know that operate outside of your area so you don’t compete," he says. "Everyone involved will encounter about the same challenges, except at different times. You will find it valuable to be advised by your colleagues and later advise."
Socializing with other outstanding farmers is another important component. "Make sure they visit your farm frequently," Riensche says. "You are probably moving at a different pace and path than most. Your connections with them will help your family and team understand why you march to the beat of a different drum."
Dean Folkvord of Three Forks, Mont.
Looking back Dean Folkvord says whenever they bought another farm or took on another lease it was always controversial. "Somehow it always worked out favorable," he says. "We’ve never bought farmland for what we thought was a bargain price. Yet, overtime, the land was always a good investment." Folkvord says the same holds true with leases. "Sometimes, it really taxed our equipment and time, but eventually it justified bigger and better equipment, which made the whole operation run smoother," he says. "My advice to young producers is to buy something when you are young and keep adding to it. Ag is a career where the benefits accumulate over the long run."
- Spring 2013