Sep 14, 2014
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Top Secrets

RSS By: Top Producer Editors, Top Producer

We’re unlocking the mystery and getting inside the heads of Top Producer of the Year winners and finalists. Check out what they’ve learned along the way and tips that you might be able to incorporate into your own farm.

Chad Olsen

Jul 02, 2013

OlsenWhat do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

If the clock turned back and I were to start fresh again, I would put more emphasis on more accurate bookkeeping. It’s a key element in our operations today. Back then, I just wanted to be in a tractor and figured things would just work out. I learned the hard way that it’s an absolute must when trying to develop a partnership type of relationship with your banker. Sometimes I had to sell some grain because I needed a buck even though I knew there would be a better time to sell in the future, but I didn’t have a good enough relationship with my banker at the time because of my lack of record keeping. If I could go back in time, I would have been more profitable in my early years had I dedicated myself to more time at a desk.

Brian Mitchell

Jul 02, 2013

MitchellWhat do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

Today’s young farmers have been exposed to the constantly emerging world of technology since the day they were born. While new technology can be fascinating, it must also be cost effective for their farming operation. Just because it is new technology, it must have a valid business purpose. The leading edge of technology can also be the bleeding edge. We are in the business of farming. If you manage the business first, then you can enjoy the life of a farmer.

Steve Irsik

Jul 02, 2013

IrsikWhat do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

Steps for executing your dream: 1) Dram or develop a vision for what you wish to do. 2) Develop a plan to execute your vision. 3) Execute on the plan. 4) Finally and this might be the most important part, be brave. I emphasize bravery because most will say what you are trying cannot be done, that is not the way we do things, you will be broke in six months, etc. Many things will stand in your way, but be smart, look, listen, join in activities of all types, develop your network and mentors.

Every community has mentors. It could be your mother, father or uncle. Look for the gray-haired person who will help you. There are many opportunities in agriculture; I think more than when we started 40 years ago. Opportunities don’t necessarily need to be the traditional thing. Get out of the box, and look and study what the new opportunities might be.

Gregg Halverson

Jul 01, 2013

HalversonWhat do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

I’m convinced that change creates opportunity. We cannot be afraid of change; we should embrace it. Thanks to my father, I know the importance of taking the time to do it right the first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the barn, on the tractor or in the office, it’s much more efficient and productive to do a job once rather than relying on a do-over. For young farmers, I recommend surrounding yourself with the best people possible. Hire the best at all levels in your company – no matter the size. Every day I believe this to be truer.

Lon Frahm

Jul 01, 2013

FrahmWhat do you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?

When I hit 10,000 acres, the economies of scale kicked in. Everything fell into place and I could afford to do a lot of stuff in-house. I know acquiring land is a huge challenge for young farmers, but be persistent. The first quarter is the hardest. Then you can use the first one for leverage to buy the second, and then it can grow from there.

Today, my focus has shifted away from acquiring land. I don’t have an acreage goal. It’s more about lifestyle, which can vary from working fewer hours on the weekends to going on a nicer employee trip to spending a few more minutes with employees during their morning coffee breaks.

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