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Agrimarketing : July 2009
40 Feature Story:32 Feature Story 7/15/09 2:29 PM Page 40 COVER STORY GENERATIONSOFAGRI-MARKETERS Editor’s note:We invited some family teams to provide their thoughts about working together. To read their entire (non-condensed) comments, go to www.AgriMarketing.com. BECK’S HYBRIDS Atlanta, IN Sonny Beck: I joined the business after college in 1964 because that iswhat I alwayswanted to do. Growing up on a farm, I had always been out farming withmy dad and that seemed like more fun, thanwork, sowhy not do that for a living and get paid for it while thoroughly enjoyingmywork. What are your title and responsibilities? President/CEO and the responsibilities include “keeping the trains from running into each other.” On a daily basis I still spend the most time in the production and processing area aswell as teaching and learning fromemployees and customers. In addition, the President/ CEO needs to be able to think ahead and propose newprojects (be a visionary). I believe “the only truly sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn and adapt faster than your competition.” What requirements did you have for your family members before they joined the business? They had to complete college and find two jobs and successfully complete them(summer jobs during collegewere chosen). This allows the next generation to see howtough or howeasy another boss can be. What are the benefits of having an offspring in the business? They knowfroman early agewhat goes on in the business andwhat is expected of employees including themselves and others. The transition to newleadership has the opportunity to be accomplishedwith fewer hiccups. Scott Beck:May 1965wasmy first year in the business (the year Iwas born). They said I came along in time to help Dad put in the seed corn crop that year. 40 Agri Marketing s July/August 2009 My first year full-timewas July 1987 after graduating fromPurdue Universitywith a degree inAgronomy.At the time I joined, Iwas undecided if thiswas the long-term path Iwould take, so I began to use the gifts and talents that I had been given and had developed, and I graduallyworked into utilizing them in several areas of the business. Responsibilities? As Vice President, I ampart of our fivemembermanagement team.My specific areas of responsibility are in overseeing our advertising and our “Practical Farm Research” program. I also oversee our packaging design, product labeling and amPresident ofGreat HarvestOrganics,which is a small business divisionwithin Beck’s. Challenges? Knowingwhen and where to step in and lead,when Dad is still the leader, is a normal challenge that I thinkmost businesses face. There is a level of respect, trust and admiration that I have forwhat he has done and continues to do. Anything else? Theworking relationship thatwe have nowbeganwhen I was a kid. The time that Dad spent withme as a kid teachingme about many different areas of farming. Alongwith the time that he andmy Momspentwith us doing fun things thatwe enjoyed,makes it possible to work together nowand have it be fun to do so. There aremany teachable moments that happen in the course of just being togetherwhetherworking or playing. Spending timewith your kids pays off, in the short and in the long run. BOCK&ASSOCIATES Minneapolis,MN Mike Bock: Since 1957, our core business has been selling ad space on behalf of publishers. Three generations in the business have afforded us deep ties and experiences, helping us sell broad programs that utilize clients’ print, digital andmobile. In 1961, after completing college andmilitary service, I joined the business. I recognized the opportunity not only to helpmy father,who started the business eight years before his retirement, but to become a business owner myself. Plus, I needed a job! Tom(l) andMike Bock Responsibilities?Whenmy son Tom acquired the business in 2004,we traded titles. I became Vice President and he became President. I amno longer responsible for the details of the business, but focus on special projects that are particularly interesting tome. Benefits?Having complete confidence that the businesswill continue and prosper. I’vewatched Tomgrow professionally, and I consider it a special privilege towork side by side with him. Tom Bock: I joined Bock &Associates in 1996 after getting outside publishing experience.At Bock, I sawan opportunity to enjoymore autonomy and a strong chance to be able to acquire the business at some point in the future. Challenges? The responsibility of legacy. Our business is in a different place today than itwas 30 years ago whenmy father took over the company. It’smy job nowto continue to evolve our business around our core services and values. Butwith the future changes, you’ll see us remain focused on hiring and retaining the best people and representing high qualitymedia products. BURRUS SEED Arenzville, IL Tom Burrus: Burrus Seed is a regional seed company serving Illinois, Iowa andMissouri. I joined the business as a ProductionAssistant tomy father in 1971
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