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2009 Medium Family Business Award

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Wanting to be a small blueberry farm, our idea was five acres and independence. And it kind of got out of hand. Yeah, we were going to do a fresh fruit operation. Yeah, a few acres everything would be fine. It got a little bit busier than that. That was our start. We have licenses and partnerships in different countries that we work in blueberries: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and working on, finishing one over in Europe. We had a fresh fruit stand here where we were selling blueberries right from the start, in 1978. And when Cort was 12 and Amelie was 9, we were so busy in the nursery it was hard to really run this stand, although we had lots of customers and it was a good little business. And so we got to thinking that maybe it would make sense that they could run the stand. And so we thought they were old enough for family business- We could walk. -to start it up at 12 and 9. And so we put together an agreement with them that they could run the stand. And we would harvest the fruit, bring it in, and then they would sell it. We still have the signed contract. Yeah we still have the signed contract. "No fighting, biting, kicking." We had one clause at 9 and 12, and what it said is that if one sibling made the other sibling cry and an argument couldn't be settled and mom and dad had to settle it, each time that happened we're taking back 5%. And I'll never forget when Cort got to the end of that contract he said, "You can't do that, Amelie is a crybaby." I've refined my negotiation skills- That was good negotiation in part. But they kept that business and grew that business up to college years. It was hugely successful business. But when you're in a business that's rapidly growing you have a change business driven by the growth. When you go through the economic downturns that we've had and the difficulties we've got to look at changing the way we do things, changing the crops we grow, bringing different solutions to customers, rapidly changing. There were a few, few things that we did as a family that really has gotten us through to this point over the last two years. One was just an inherent trust in each other. Whether it was trust that, you know, "go and do it, I'm working on this area. You move that pile, I'm working on this". Also a trust to give immediate, candid feedback. It gave us the agility to make rather large decisions in a very short amount of time together. And who knows if they were all the right decisions, but we're hoping that at least more than half of them were. As we have involved the whole crew and our whole management team, the executive team, in our strategic planning where we are looking at what does Fall Creek do best, where can we add value to our customers. And everybody brings in great input. Everybody is really involved in what they do well. One of our focuses in the last six months actually has been developing a really unified,effective team between the three of us as the next generation has been a major focus. We recognize that our family, in and of itself, is also really important and we have to take care of our family, you know, in order to take care of the company. Yeah, you've got to work on the family as well as on the business. The focus of the Austin Family Business Program, it's not just making profits. It's about what else do you do, where do you support your community, where do you do a lot of good things for your employees. Which in the end will help you to be profitable. This certainly validates the decisions we've made and helps us answer some of those questions that we all wonder is, " wow, is everybody doing this, is this the right thing to do, and how do we compare". I think it makes, probably makes all of us want to work harder too. Be great a few years down the road to have the same award as a larger business. That would be nice.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 58 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 69
Posted by: umarket on Feb 16, 2010

The Austin Family Business Program awards the Medium Family Business of the Year Award to Fall Creek Farm and Nursery Inc. for 2009

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