The following information is bonus material from Top Producer. It corresponds with the article "There Are No Secrets On This Farm” by Greg Vincent. You can find the article on page 14 in the Summer 2009 issue.
Despite his best efforts and planning, Lon Frahm is doing pretty well at this farming thing.
As a youngster, Frahm dreamt of working in the business world or becoming an attorney like his father. Instead, he followed his father's other career path as a farmer. His first glimpse of what was to come showed up in the results of a high school career-aptitude test.
"It scored you on two different axis and suggested the world of work where you might find a good fit for your life. I was never the kid that was really into farming, when I was younger I was never in FFA. That test came back and there it was…farmer,” he says with a laugh. "Boy was I mad. I wanted it to say I should be a scientist or a doctor and it didn't. I'd always said I was never going to be a farmer.”
Yet, a look at Frahm's family history shows that this may have always been his destiny.
Two of his great, great grandmothers were childhood friends in northern Germany, but they were separated when their families emigrated to America. One family settled in Nebraska, the other in Kansas. They would never know that decades later, in the early 1930's their grandchildren would meet and marry when Lon's grandfather Frahm came from Nebraska to teach school in Thomas County, Kansas. He began farming full time with his father-in-law only when the school district could no longer pay his salary. The operation somehow held together—barely— through the dust bowl days despite a catastrophic fire that destroyed the newly built shop and all the uninsured equipment. The rains in the 1940's also coincided with high wheat prices and small fortunes were made virtually overnight.
Two generations later, Frahm's father Ronald built his share of the twice divided original farm into his own 5,000 acre operation including irrigation, along with a successful law practice in Colby, Kansas.
Frahm's life desire was to work in business or become an attorney. Farming was of no particular interest to the young Lon. Yet his father offered him more money than any other potential employer (and there were several offers) when he graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in Business Administration and Agricultural Economics.
An MBA or law school could wait a few years, after all it was the late ‘70's and ag was booming.
Then life took a tragic turn when his father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1986 at the height of the farm crisis. The 28-year-old Lon, the oldest of three Frahm siblings was left to manage his father's estate, keep the farm operating and provide for his mother and younger sister and brother.
Today he is the 6th generation to manage family farming operations in Thomas County, and with the help of a farm crew he treats like family, the business has grown to 16,000 acres.