For Jeremie Pavelski, serving as president of Heartland Farms combines two passions: agriculture and technology. This innovative young farmer is leading his family’s operation, which began in 1873, to new levels of success.
Heartland Farms is a partnership between Jeremie, his father, Richard, Dave Knights and TJ Kennedy. Spanning 24,000 acres, the top crop on this Wisconsin-based farm is potatoes, though they also grow sweet corn, canning peas, green beans and soybeans. Annually 8,000 acres are dedicated to potatoes, most of which end up as potato chips.
“Dick ran into some people at a John Hancock seminar that was key in Frito lay that were talking about trying to go to unit suppliers and get rid of a lot of their growers and go to larger units and stuff and it truly opened up a door for us,” Knights says. “I think life, in general, is a sense of when opportunities present themselves. Are you prepared to take them on? And you never seemed to know when they're coming.”
Heartland Farms includes 120 full-time and 150 part-time employees. This team is comprised of what Jeremie calls “old-school knowledge” and “new-tech savvy.” Through careful planning and mentoring, these two groups have learned to work collaboratively.
The success of the operation depends on its team. The farm’s leaders conduct tri-annual employee reviews and offer regular training. They provide catered meals to every employee at harvest and offer bonuses based on good attendance.
I think you've heard us all talked about its people, people, people without good dedicated people. You know you can't make it very far,” Jeremie says. "Each individual at the upper levels of the company understands that our job is to train our replacement and to make sure he's better than we are.”
Heartland Farms is committed to its community. Jeremie holds numerous roles in leadership and community organizations. The operation and the Pavelksi family have committed to donating $450,000, to support their local school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. They’ve also committed $500,000 to help start a Breast Care Center in Stevens Point, Wis.
“We still consider this a family farm and when people say ‘well how can that still be a family farm at that size of the operation?’ my answer to that is it's the kind of family farm you build when you do it for 130 years with five generations,” Richard says.
Congratulations to Heartland Farms for being a 2018 Top Producer of the Year award finalist.
Thanks To The 2018 Top Producer Of The Year Award Sponsors:
Courtesy of Bayer, each finalist receives CEO coaching sessions with Sarah Beth Aubrey with Aubrey Coaching & Training and a Top Producer columnist, and a trip to this year’s Commodity Classic. From Case IH, the winner receives use of a new Case IH tractor for 150 hours of use or six months.