Risks Pave Path For the Future

09:58AM Dec 13, 2019
Dull family of Thorntown, Ind.
The Dull family of Thorntown, Ind., has transitioned their row-crop farm into an agritourism destination.
( Gronde Photography )

Amid challenging economic times, a young couple took a leap of faith in 1985. Tom and Kerry Dull planted their first rows of Christmas trees on their farm in Thorntown, Ind.

Their goal? Diversify their corn, soybean and hog operation to put their kids through college.

Through creative thinking, strategic risk-taking and listening to consumer demands, the Dulls have transitioned their farm into a multiventure agritourism destination. The family hosts thousands of families on the farm each year and sells trees, wreaths, tree stands and pumpkins. They also have a gift shop, B&B, corn maze, recreational facility and event business.

With each expansion, the family researched the opportunity before jumping in with both feet.

“We asked: What we will regret more,” says Lucas Dull, Tom and Kerry’s son who joined the business five years ago. “Not doing it and wondering what would have happened or doing it and failing? If you try, you’ll learn from it.”

Walk Before You Run

Before taking risks, consider what it means for your overall business. Weigh the options and consider the best- and worst-case scenarios, says Moe Russell, president of Russell Consulting Group.

The Dulls had zero experience when they began their Christmas tree business in the mid-80s. They talked to other Indiana growers and joined the National Christmas Tree Association to learn.

In 40 years, Tom and Kerry have built a multigenerational farm that supports two families and employs 120 people in their community for seasonal work. Not being bound by tradition or a small scope paid off.

“There are so many things we can add in the next five years," Lucas says, “and it’s exciting to think about which ones we’ll tackle and how we’ll overcome challenges.” 

To learn more about the Dulls and how to pick the perfect Christmas tree, visit AgWeb.com/Dull