I grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin, when I was a kid we milked about 60 registered Holsteins. When I became a teenager my family had a complete dispersal of all the cows, and the cattle business my dad was operating as a sideline business became a full time venture. Who would have thought that moving cattle around the country, and taking care of heifers would have been as difficult as milking cows?
When I was 16, I took a job off of our farm on another dairy farm. (I’m guessing they paid quite a bit better then my dad) The dairy farm I worked on was quite a bit bigger then I was used to. They were milking about 700 cows using a milking parlor and free stall barn. It amazed me how much they relied on automation and equipment to make operating and managing the farm that much easier.
After High School, I was lucky enough to go on to college, and major in Mechanical Engineering. I assumed my days in Agriculture were finished (boy was I wrong). During my time away my family decided to build a new dairy, and begin milking cows again, at first it was 400 cows and after a few additions and some more new construction my family along with some partners are now milking over 2000 cows.
During my senior year of college (I’m pretty sure it was my 2nd senior year) I was lucky enough to travel with my father and a group of dairy farmers out to Idaho and visit some dairy farms. For a 22 year old from Wisconsin it was eye opening. Every farm seemed bigger than the last. I believe the largest we visited was milking over 8000 cows. After visiting with some of the dairy farmers on the bus, and seeing dairy farming was larger than just Wisconsin I decided to take a job with one of the milking equipment manufacturers designing equipment.
I was an engineer for a few years, and really enjoyed it, and then an opportunity arose for me to get into the sales side of milking equipment. Lucky for me, my territory included Asia, Australia, and the job also allowed me to travel much of Europe and most of the United States. What a great way to see the world, and learn about the world wide dairy industry.
After working on the milk side of the cow for 7 years a career change seemed to be in order. I decided to take a look at the other end of the cow and go to work for a company doing some work in the manure industry. People always asked me why I made the change, and I would always joke, I know a lot about the profitable 1/3 of what comes out of the cow, now I want to learn about the other 2/3 that comes out of the cow.
Well, that lasted about 1 ½ years before another opportunity which was very intriguing presented itself. A friend of mine from my milking equipment days had been working for a company who administered employee benefits. Everybody asks what that means, well it’s NOT insurance, although it’s a way to pay for insurance tax free. The company I now work for offers all types of businesses ways to pay for medical expenses tax free. We administer Flexible Spending Accounts, and AgriPlan, along with individual 401K plans, and Cobra. I more specifically work with Agricultural associations who use our services as a member benefit.
So when I blog again, you’ll know a little about me, and maybe understand my background and maybe why I’m blogging about certain things.