In 1990 my brother and I terminated a 14 year partnership that operated a 125 cow dairy operation.
I have experienced first hand the spats, the squabbles, the yelling, the anger, the resentment, and the hurt feelings that frequently break up successful farming businesses.
I have also experienced the mending of broken family relationships. Six years after splitting up the dairy operation, my brother and I tempted fate the second time and joined forces in another business . . . again as partners.
We were determined not to make the same mistakes and things have worked out, in fact we have even become very good friends and enjoy spending time together. If I was asked to list my three best friends my brother Ralph would be in at least second place.
I grew up on a farm approximately 20 minutes west of Kitchener, Ontario. My wife, Susan, and I are the parents to three adult daughters, and two granddaughters. We have been married for 39 years.
The “home farm” was purchased by my grandfather in 1922. My ancestors were some of the early settlers to come into Waterloo County in 1802.
In 2001 our youngest daughter left for college so we decided to move off the farm. We purchased our dream home which sits on three acres of land backing onto a river in the small town of New Hamburg — located between Kitchener and Stratford.
After college my younger brother and I took over the family dairy farm in 1976 from our father. We built the operation up to 140 milk cows and 500 acres of land. The partnership was dismantled in 1990 with my brother continuing to operate the farm. He is now in the process of bringing the fourth-generation into the operation.
In 1996 I took over the Pioneer Hi-Bred Seed agency that my father had been operating for the previous 21 years. Working in direct sales has been a very rewarding experience.
In 1973 I graduated with a two-year diploma in agriculture. Twenty-five years later in 1998, I embarked on a lifelong dream to complete a Master of Business Degree (MBA) in Agriculture which was granted by the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) in October 2000.
Having been involved with a father and two brothers, and more recently two nephews, in three respective businesses, I have learned first-hand the challenges and rewards of working with family.
My younger brother and I spent fourteen years together dairy farming. We parted company simply because we where on different paths and did not have very much in common. In plain English — we did not like each other! (at least that was my view of the situation) Six years later we went back into business again. This was a long shot but it paid off.
For the past 25 years I have served as secretary for our local Federation Agriculture. I served six years as secretary for the Waterloo County dairy farmers. I also served nine very enjoyable years as a 4-H leader.