Lessons from an Agricultural Leader
May 25, 2010
Recently, I met with Jim Ostrom of Milk Source in Freedom, Wis. We talked about a variety of topics, including his view of the future, the steps to achievement and how to overcome obstacles. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.
Kevin: Jim, what are the keys to your success?
Jim: The key to our success is the team. I’ve got two partners. We all three focus on different areas of the operation. I focus on the business side, including risk management, negotiations, planning and the next new projects. Todd focuses on construction, facilities and operations. John handles herd management, health and production.
Kevin: If you could change one thing, one mistake you’ve made in the past, what would that be?
Jim: Several years ago we decided to vertically integrate into bottled milk to sell directly to the consumer. We bought a very expensive home delivery milk-processing plant in a faraway city. And it easily cost our business a couple years, and possibly more... We underestimated the complexities, and misjudged how difficult it is to compete in a world where your competitors are multibillion-dollar companies.
Kevin: What tips would you pass along to the next generation who is interested in a career in farming?
Jim: Our world is changing; I’d encourage my own children to go beyond agricultural education, focus on business and the fundamentals of business management.
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Leading the Change – Legacy Project Workshops: The next series of Legacy Project workshops are scheduled for Lincoln(July 20th), Des Moines (July 21st), and Champaign (July 23). Sign-up online, or call the Farm Journal Events Hot Line for more information: (800) 909-3681.