Frank Howey is a modern-day renaissance man. His expertise spans agronomy, business, real estate, conservation and technology.
From the time he could walk, Frank helped his father on their family farm in Monroe, N.C. At 13 years old, he bought a small greenhouse to grow plants and sell them to his local co-op. At 16, he leased his first 10 acres and grew soybeans. At 18, he purchased his first farm.
"Of course I didn't have much cash. I gave them the cash I had saved up from farming, and the owner financed it," Howey says.
Frank and his business partner and wife, Alison, have stayed on that business-minded path. Today, Frank Howey Family Farms spans more than 30,000 acres across two states. The operation produces corn, soybeans and wheat. It also includes a Red Angus cattle herd, timber acres and a citrus farm in Florida. Hunting leases, rental properties and nearly 1,000 acres of solar projects round out this diversified business.
Diversity, a positive attitude and a willingness to work have allowed the Howeys to create an operation that can withstand financial downturns, weather disasters and labor shortages.
"I kind of see bad times as opportunities to be creative and continue to grow but grow smart,” he says. “I've bought farms other people didn't want because it looked rough, but I've turned a Sog's ear into a silk purse a few times."
Frank and Alison agree their operation’s greatest assets are their employees. In their corner of western North Carolina, competition for jobs is fierce, as Charlotte is less than 30 miles away. So, in addition to their 20 full-time employees, the Howeys bring in team members from South Africa via the H2A program.
They are committed to keeping the farm in their family for the next generation. Because they live in an area that is being impacted by urban sprawl, they’ve put some of their land in a conservation easement to provide an opportunity for the next generation to continue their legacy.
"That's another way we've been able to grow the operation,” Howey explains. “By protecting land forever. This isn't for 100 years but forever."
Congratulations to Frank and Alison Howey of Frank Howey Family Farms, the 2018 Top Producer of The Year award winners.
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.