2017 Top Producer of the Year Finalist: Richard and Roderick Gumz

January 25, 2017 12:16 PM

The brothers co-own a diversified crop farm including potatoes, onions, carrots and mint. They’ve invested in field drainage and other technology that makes production, packing and shipping more efficient than ever.

Brothers Richard and Roderick Gumz strive for ultimate efficiency and revenue on each acre they farm. This is no easy task, as their operation, Gumz Farms in Endeavor, Wis., produces a cornucopia of crops.

In addition to corn and soybeans, Richard and Roderick’s team produces 875 acres of potatoes, 675 acres of onions, 300 acres of carrots and 1,800 acres of mint, making them one of the largest mint producers in Wisconsin. Carrots are sold to processors who slice and dice them, while the onions and potatoes are packed for retail and sold on the fresh market under the Gumz Farms brand.

The vertically integrated operation is a fourth-generation farm that has evolved to maximize consumer demands under Richard and Roderick’s acute leadership.

“We have made the investment in the building and the technology,” Roderick explains. “Our customers see that and see that we're committed to producing a good crop, committed to quality, committed to food safety. They want to partner with us because they see that we're willing to make that commitment.”

The brothers’ great grandfather founded Gumz Farms in the 1930s in Indiana. He later expanded into Wisconsin. In 1994, the brothers bought the Wisconsin operation and formed Gumz Muck Farms

The “muck” part of the farm’s name is an homage to the soils that fuel their operation. High in organic matter, these soils are perfect for onion, potato and mint production. Although this sparse soil type creates high yields, it also takes intensive production management, especially when it comes to drainage systems. The brothers are logistics masters, as their plethora of crops keeps them in nearly year-round production mode.

As Richard and Roderick have grown their business, they’ve focused on vertical growth. In 2012, they expanded their on-farm potato packaging facility and built a new onion packaging facility, complete with offices and meeting rooms. The brothers are early adopters of technology, and their facilities include an optical sorter, automated stacking equipment and precision ag technology in the field. Their team also uses social media to increase awareness about their products.

To match the growth of their operation, the brothers have expanded their team and made engagement and retention a focus for their 90 full- and part-time employees. The word has spread, and now people seek them out for jobs with the operation.

Richard and Roderick give of their time, as well. They are both members of, and hold leadership roles with, numerous farming and community organizations. They also are quick to help those in need. None of their produce goes to waste. Through a partnership with Feeding America, all of their off-grade or misshapen produce is donated. Last year, the operation provided over 5 million pounds of produce to the Feeding America network.

“We're looking to do this for the next generation,” Richard says. “We’re not just trying to survive until we retire.”

Watch Gumz Farms' story on AgDay above.

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