Podcast

The Secrets to Growing a Multi-Generational Family Business—with Shay Myers

By , May 18, 2020

Shay Myers of Owyhee Produce shows us how they run their multi-generation family business and how they use vertical integration to do so.

Are you the owner of a family business, trying to navigate its unique multigenerational challenges and bring it to the next level?

I am excited to introduce Shay Myers, an agriculture executive and the CEO of Owyhee Produce, a third-generation family farm that has grown to feed tens of millions of Americans annually and become one of the largest vertically-integrated onion farms in the country. In this interview, Shay reveals the secret to working with multiple generations of a family business and how to move it to scalability. He also shares his insight on how you can go from being a small farm to one of the top ten players in the United States, as well as how you can differentiate yourself and innovate in a market where everybody is doing the same thing.

Shay offers so much great advice and personal experience in this interview. Listen and enjoy!

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Download the audio file here.

The Secrets to Growing a Multi-Generational Family Business—with Shay Myers

Before we start, I would like to ask you for a quick favor. If you enjoy this, please head over to iTunes or Google Play and rate and review. With your help, we can reach more people. Our guest is Shay Myers. He is an Agriculture Executive and the Owner of Owyhee Produce, a third-generation family farm, one of the largest vertically-integrated onion farms in the country. They grow enough food on the family farm to feed tens of millions of Americans. He is going to talk about the effort, care and passion it takes to get the job done. We speak on many different angles in this interview from how you go from being a small farm, to one of the top ten players in the United States. How he’s a third-generation and how to actually work with the first generation to a second generation in order to move the business to scalability. Also, how to differentiate yourself and innovate in a market that everybody is doing the same. Finally, pay close attention to how he provides valuable insights, which onion to use you with your next recipe or with your raw salad. There’s so much to learn from this. Without further ado, here is my interview.

Shay, thank you so much for joining me.

I’m glad to be here. Thank you.

We’ve met years ago. From the different places we could have met, we actually met and we sat side-by-side at a Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership event. We came from totally different backgrounds, our businesses are totally different. Ultimately, we arrived there because we were both growing our businesses.

I remember very well not the details of the conversations, but the conversations we had and the efforts that we were both making to make a difference in our lives and in our businesses.

The reason I invited you here is because I’ve been following your journeys ever since. There’s so much rich history to your family farm and it’s something. It’s food that we eat every day, but it’s also growing a business in this economy, still a farm in the US, and I felt that there’s so much that our readers could learn from you. Let’s start from the beginning. When was the first time you stepped out into the farm?

Literally, one of my very first memories is from the farm at probably 5 or 6 years old. I was out irrigating with my grandfather and there are little ditches with 2.5 feet of water. I remember falling in the ditch and I remember his big strong arm reaching down and pulling me out, and I thought I was going to drown. I was perfectly fine. Nothing is ever going to happen to me. Him pulling me out, taking me into his pickup and sitting me down on the floorboards and turning the heater on. I grew up on the farm and farming in our family and in our community, it’s something that everyone’s very proud of. My mind goes back to grandpa. In our operation now, there are eight separate families, all related. Some of us are cousins and some of us are cousins-in-law, but there are eight separate families that are part of our operations.

For those who are reading and thinking that produce is manufacturers like candy and snacks, walk me through what goes into a typical month or obviously season within a farm. Let’s dive in a little bit of the capacity of your farm so our readers could understand what goes into that.

For example, in the wintertime of 2019, we’re already planning our planting season and have been for the last few months of what’s going to happen for 2020. The pre-planning that’s involved in agriculture, you can’t even look at it on a month-by-month basis. You almost have to look at it on an annual or even eighteen months at a time. That’s how far ahead we have to plan. I’m going to use onions. It’s one of our focal points and probably what we do the most volume of. The planning for the ground preparation for the soil amendments, for the fertilizer, all of that stuff for 2020 has already been decided on, and in a lot of cases, it’s already been paid for.

We paid for the seed for the 2020 crop. That won’t be planted until March of 2020 and harvested until October. That’s one of the dynamics that people don’t think of. There’s a lot of pre-planning, but then when it comes to getting the products to the consumer, the reason I get so passionate and try and tell the story is because this isn’t from a plastic mold. It’s not candy where we can control most of the dynamics. We’re dealing with weather variables. We’re dealing with market variables. We’re dealing with pest infestations and regulations. You look at the trade war going on, all of these factors that are completely outside of our control that come into play and we try and create a product and be consistent. We’re dealing with a commodity. I can grow onions and so can my neighbor, so how do I stand out and what do I do?

Going back, we’ve already bought the seed. We’ve already prepared the ground. We’ll plant in early March. We’ll irrigate and take care of that crop and then start harvesting it roughly in September. What we do on our operation, specific to onions, is we have storage buildings. People don’t consider this, but most of the onions consumed in the United States are storage onions. It’s a lot like apples. The apples and onions are in the grocery store every single day, but they’re not harvested every single day. They’re put into storage, ambient cooled, controlled storage buildings and then pulled out to meet demand as they need to come out. We will harvest in September for almost all of September, half of October. We harvest between 30 and 60 days, put everything in storage and then we’ll pull out of storage and go to our packing operations.

We as American consumers are extremely picky. We have to run everything over an optical sorter. Literally, every single onion that we ever send out the door, we’ll have twenty pictures taken on it. Twenty external and internal to determine the quality of that onion and what channel it needs to go, if it needs to go retail or food service. Retail, meaning the grocery store and food service, meaning restaurant groups, and then processors which are going to cut dice, slice and put it in processed food. There are three channels where that goes and that’s what we’ll do.

It's a lot easier to adopt the technology and reduce labor costs. Click To Tweet

It’s that advancement of technology that maybe wasn’t there 10 or 20 years ago.

The cameras absolutely are. The three channels have always been there. The way that we would have determined one of those three channels would have been with hand sorting with people looking at those onions and making that determination. The three channels have existed for a few decades at least.

Is that along with technology?

We’re on the bleeding edge of that. If there are 100 shippers in the US, which is close during our season, there are probably a dozen of us that have this technology at this point. It’s progressing pretty rapidly. With the cost of labor, it’s a lot easier to adopt the technology and move into those realms and try and reduce your labor count.

You only harvest those onions once a year. It’s one season per year?

Yes.

Throughout the year, it’s storage and then obviously maintained and then shipped out. Roughly how many onions do you get in and out a year in your facilities?

We will do roughly 100 million pounds from our facilities here. The US consumption per capita for every year is about nineteen pounds, so you can do the math. There should be 5 million to 6 million people that we’re reaching and basically feeding, covering all the onions that they need for that entire year.

Do you have other products as well or is it farmers harvesting onions, those grounds are made for onions only?

There are a lot of people that when I say we grow onions, they say, “Are you an onion farmer?” We actually grow asparagus, beans, corn, mint, sweet potatoes, onions and hemp among another 3 or 4 different crops that come in and out of rotation. The Midwest gives everyone the mentality that you’re a corn farmer or a soybean farmer or whatever. It’s rare, especially in our valley, in the Western US. We are doing a pretty good job of diversifying what we’re planting and maintaining soil health. We do that not just to be good stewards, which is important, but also because it makes sense economically. Like in any of our decisions that any of us make as to what car we drive or what are consuming habits are, we are still economically based. We tend to rotate our crops to try and maintain the soil health and improve the quality overall of what we’re doing.

For the end consumer going into a grocery store or supermarket and buying an onion, what is it? You should come with a wealth of knowledge. For the average consumer, they’re buying it. They’re probably either cooking it as part of a recipe or maybe they’re putting into a salad. I know that when you go to the grocery, there are multiple different price points on onions. There are purple onions, regular onions, they’re smaller, larger. What is it? Give us some understanding of what’s going on over there.

The reality is depending on how you’re going to use it. What you’re typically going to look at are the yellow onion or a brown onion. That’s the one you want to cook with. It has a higher sugar content. A lot of people think, “I want a sweet onion to cook with. I want something sweet.” A brown, regular storage onion, the one that has the multiple layers of papery skin, it has more of a brown color than a yellow, that onion is what you want to cook with in most cases. That’s going to get you the sweetest, nicest flavor profile versus a sweet onion. A sweet onion, if you’re going to eat that, that’s great but use it raw.

LTB 41 | Running A Family Business
Running A Family Business: If you come with a wealth of knowledge for the average consumer, they’re buying it.

 

Don’t cook a sweet onion. When you cook a sweet onion, you ruin the sweetness of that onion. It has too much water content and a sweet onion will turn to nothing. That’s the first thing. If you want to cook, use the brown storage onion and not the sweet onion. If you want to eat a sweet onion in a salad, go with the sweet onion or a red. It’s the same story on the reds. The reds have a higher sugar content, a sweeter taste profile but don’t cook a red. You don’t want to do that. Don’t cook a sweet, don’t cook a red. If you want to do something raw and you want a spicy onion flavor, then you go to a white onion. That’s going to be the spiciest. The most oniony onion that you can use is a white onion. That’s your profile. A brown onion is for cooking for a nice sweet flavor for that nice onion taste. A red onion is for raw consumption. The white onion is another raw application if you want something that’s even stronger in flavor.

Let’s speak from the business angle. You mentioned before about competing with others and about 100 other farmers probably selling the same product. When somebody is in the service business such as we’re branding marketing agency, you could outdo yourself with creativity. Other service providers might outdo on price if it’s a product in the store. Especially what you mentioned before, it’s out of your control. When you create your 2020 goals as a business owner, what is the unique selling advantage? How do you position yourself to say, “We want to conquer the market versus the competition?” What is it that you could provide from a farmer’s perspective?

There are a few things that we can do that help us stand out. We, over the years, have been able to average about 28% growth. The reason we’ve been able to do that is not because we’re not like most of our competitors. Most of our competitors are not the grower and the packer and the shipper. That’s something unique in the marketplace. When you think of packaged salad coming in. Taylor Farms that sends you your packaged salad, they don’t grow most of that lettuce. They’re a processor. They pack that product. It’s the same thing in the onion world. A lot of those onion brands, when you go in and you get a Kroger onion or something from Stop and Shop or wherever you might be, Wakefern on the East Coast. When you grab that onion and it’s got a label on it, the person who put that label on it and packaged that onion is different than the person who grew the onion. In our case, we’re both. We’re the grower, the packer, the shipper and we’re also the marketer.

We have been able to stand out by being able to adapt, adjust, and accommodate our customer’s needs much more quickly than our competitors. That’s our advantage. When you think about a farming operation, the farmer wants the yield. They get paid based on the yield, not on the overall value of that crop. We get paid on the overall entire value through that value chain to the end. We grow a quality onion, not a big onion because we need that quality. That’s helped us stand out. We were a small player. Now, we’re probably in the top ten in the country. We decided we’d go out and the cheapest place to try and stand out was in marketing. No one even had a website in my industry before.

We started with a website. We started with our Facebook presence because everybody was doing it at that point. Other professionals, if it’s a point of sell, piece of material or customer visits or trade shows is something that we did. We started doing trade shows. We tried to stand out and do something that no one else was doing and it was relatively simple. Enter LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been a very powerful tool for us, for me especially, because I can tell the story in a way that very few people are willing to do it. A lot of people either don’t like to let people see the inside operation and what they’re actually doing. They also are afraid to get in front of the camera and look like a goofball.

Once you can get past yourself and tell the story, a lot of people appreciate knowing where their food comes from. Not only do they appreciate that, they don’t know where their food comes from. You would think that people in my industry know how an onion grows if they’re an onion buyer, but in a lot of cases, they don’t. They came from the city and most people are now four generations removed from the farm. They don’t know where their food does come from and how it grows. I’m not only educating the people that maybe are a normal consumer and they’re not in the industry, but I’m also able to educate the folks that are in the industry that need to understand what it takes to get their food to them.

I admired it a lot. Even speaking about this particular interview, we met years ago, but then we lost contact and then we connected through LinkedIn. I was following this and I said, “If this what you’re putting out on LinkedIn, I want to get you in front of my readers and thousands of others. One opportunity leads to the other and it only comes by doing stuff.

You’ve got to get over yourself and be willing to make an effort.

We live in the world of that thing and good art for people like you that are early adopters to LinkedIn, to video, to be able to put yourself out there and bring people in. Because when you tell a story, it’s so important. When you tell a story, the emotions open up and it becomes more than a price point. It becomes more than just, “I could buy it from two people with a click of a button.” Because as the technology takes over our lives and we’re so constantly pushing buttons and looking at screens, but if you use that technology to actually open up the door to be able to see what’s happening behind the curtain, it’s so smart.

People feel like they know you. From us both being on LinkedIn, it’s a lot easier for you and I to have this conversation. This is basically a cold call. We’ve seen each other. It’s powerful because you feel like you know a little bit about me and I do you. When the opportunity comes to do business together, it’s not like, “Do I use this agency or that agency? Do I use this onion farm or do I use that onion farm?” You’re like, “I know this guy.” Whether we personally know each other or not, I’ve shared some embarrassing things or some weird things or some little unique things about who I am and who our farm is or what our farm is. It’s easier.

I almost feel that I’m sitting now in your pickup truck entering your farm. Let’s go back a little bit. You mentioned before going from a small farm to the top ten and I want to speak about on the business side. We’ll come back to the onions, we’ll come back to the farm. At the end of the day, it’s a business like any other business. We look at numbers, we look at growth, we look at competition and we look at our own people. What would you say were the turning points to be able to aid was obviously the decision-making that we’ve got to grow this, but what were the actual action steps, the no-nonsense advice you could give to our readers that you’re constantly on top of? What are the moves that you took that set you apart?

That’s not a simple thing to answer. There are a lot of different things that come into play, but we’re a third-generation operation. If you look at how we came here, the biggest decision, number one, was generation 1 and 2 being willing to give generation three the opportunity to make mistakes. That’s our catalyst. It began to put us on this path. In 2006, I had been back in the operation for one year after college and we were not packing our own onions. The farm said, “Shay, we think we should do this and we think you can run it.” I can tell you that I made massive mistakes, huge mistakes when we started. I didn’t know what I was doing, but they were willing to let me make those mistakes and they trusted me. If you can find the right people, whether they’re family members or outsiders, trusting, finding the right people and then trusting them to do the right thing and giving them their freedom to make progress is the biggest thing that happened in our organization.

You must grow your business if you want to survive for more years in your industry. Click To Tweet

This is very valuable. People reading this will go on their head and say, “This is what I’m dealing with.” Let’s dive deeper into the stuff and maybe you can give us some insight on both sides of the coin. One is what do you think goes into the minds of the people that don’t let go and don’t let change happen? Also, from your perspective coming in as generation three, what are the steps you took in order to be able to gain that trust at one point that even if you made mistakes, as we all do, we call it a learning curve, learning moments. What have you done that you could tell other people if they are generation 2 or 3 and they need to make some changes, how they should go about it?

Your first question, going back, you want to know why generation one was willing to take a risk on us and what their mentality was?

What do you think is the mindset of the people that don’t allow that? What is going into their minds?

You have to look at it as, do you want to maintain your business or do you want to grow your business? There are people that want to do both. This goes back to my grandfather. My grandfather was always someone who wanted to grow his business and he didn’t have a lot to protect. As you get farther in, and this is why there’s a way higher failure rate between generation 1 and generation 3 to 4. You look at the statistics, it’s astoundingly bad. Generation one is very risk-tolerant. Generation two gets handed something and they’ll maintain it, but they’re fearful of losing it. When it gets handed off to generation three, then you have even more problems.

What we had that was helpful is my grandfather being alive and active in the business for a long time. He pushed for that. He accepted that risk. He wanted and was comfortable with risk. You frankly have to be comfortable with that. If you have an owner, a president, a CEO, whatever it is that is willing to grow that business, then obviously they’re going to allow that next generation in. However, it depends on your vision. It all goes to the vision. My grandfather wasn’t about building wealth. That wasn’t what he was looking at. He wanted to build a business that allowed his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, as far as he could stretch his imagination, he wanted them to have a place to come back to and to work in and to keep his family connected. You can have whatever vision you want, but the vision was critical. If someone doesn’t have that vision and they want to build wealth, that’s fine. At some point, they’re going to dial back the risk because they’re risking something. That’s what would prevent someone from allowing that next generation to make those mistakes.

What would you say to someone that needs to start sitting in those meetings and trying to persuade generation 1 and 2 to start letting them make some changes? What would be a piece of advice you would give a person like that?

We still have these conversations among our board, which is all family members, if we’re not growing, we’re shrinking, because we are. You’ve got 2% or 3% inflation every year. If you’re not growing your business, you’re shrinking your business. Decide what you want to do and how you want to do it, but you have to account for the fact that you must grow your business if you want it to be there after whatever number of years you want to get it. That’s the first thing.

We had already a couple of golden nuggets in this interview, but this is something that you see so many great businesses not advancing it and unfortunately not living up to the full potential or even going under. There’s no new blood, so to speak, coming in and being able to innovate in any of those markets. New players are coming in and they’re innovating and taking out all their customers.

We need to be very careful. That second generation or that other generation that is asking basically the capital holders to risk on them, you can have a pitch deck for your own family. You can say, “These are my ideas and this is why it will work.” I had to do that and we all should have to do that. We need to justify why these people that love us and care for us or want to work with us should be taking a risk on us. We still need to show them what that is. There’s also another thing that I read in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, and he talks about cannonballs versus bullets. I don’t know if you remember. He was about EntreLeadership. What he’s saying is cannonballs versus bullets. You’ve got an enemy ship coming at you. You’ve got a cannon and a cannonball, but you only have enough powder to shoot one cannonball.

You have to figure out what the trajectory is to hit that ship or it’s over for you. They’re going to come in and they’re going to demolish you. The business world is the same way. What you do is you figure out the trajectory with bullets. You take a little bit of gunpowder to figure out what the trajectory is. Once you figure that out, then you load the cannon with the gunpowder and fire. You shouldn’t expect your family as generation two to risk everything on you like do or die, but give them something that they can test. Test the model. Go out and figure out what that bullet might be. Once you’ve proven that, then move on.

A lot of people come into a company and they try to dismantle everything that was built and then ultimately they fail. I always say it’s similar to a ladder. Walk up one step at a time. If you need to go back, you don’t have to jump off. You could take one step back. I want to go back a little bit to the core of the business, which is the product. I want to ask you a couple of questions on that. At end of the day, who is your customer? Is it the big box retail buyer?

In that case, yes. We have our product in Albertsons and Walmart. A regional player out here called WinCo. We do have the big box stores, but another big player that’s out there are the food service providers that are supplying Chili’s or Restaurant Depot is another one too that might be a cash and carry where you go in. Those are also a type of customer that we have.

LTB 41 | Running A Family Business
Running A Family Business: Use technology to open doors and see what’s behind the curtain.

 

How do you overcome the challenge of people undercutting on price? At the end of the day, there’s a lot of consumption on those products. If it goes into a food manufacturing facility, obviously cost is a factor. I want to see if we could get some information out of you, which could help other people reading this that are constantly faced with a price war with competition.

It’s a commodity. You can buy onions from a lot of different places and it’s not a simple answer, but this is what we’ve done. I can’t say it’s been executed at 100%, but it’s a matter of trying to create that value. What we have done is to try and create a professional-looking and functioning operation. Someone that you can confide in and feel confident in visiting. If you’re going to go to a grocery store and you walk in and it’s all dirty and cluttered and there’s dust on everything, you don’t feel as good about it. Maintaining your appearance is one thing. That’s important and that helps us. We’ve always been innovative and people appreciate our innovation. We’ve probably gotten more customers because of the fact that we are an innovative farm and operation from a packing standpoint than anything else. That’s customer visits, trade shows and everything. When someone walks into our facility and visits with us, there’s a good chance they’re going to be our customer.

You used the word, vertically integrated, a lot. Is that what your positioning is based on what you said like making sure that you’re doing your own packing? You’re going from step A to getting it out of the door?

Yes. Vertical integration means we control everything. We’re the farmer and then we’re the packer, we’re the shipper, we’re everything else. By being vertically integrated and controlling all of those factors, our customer is at less risk of everything. Whether that’s a food safety recall, whether that’s a lack of quantity or availability. Let’s say a red onion becomes very tight on supply, we’re more likely to keep them in supply because that’s a long-term customer and it affects every part of our business so that has an impact. We control, we reduce risk from those who buy from us. I may not, and I’m not as cheap as a lot of my competitors and I can explain this to them, “You’re going to buy from me for $7 per unit on a contract.” If the market is crummy, if we have a bad market, it’s going to be $5. You’re going to lose $2 on that contract. You’re going to be overpaying by $2. However, in the produce world, when the supply is tight, that onion is going to go to $14 to $20. They’re going to overpay by $2 on the downside, but they’re going to underpay by $7 to $14 on the high side in a tight market.

You honor the contract because you control it.

I honor the contract because that’s the right thing to do. If you did the right thing by me, I’m going to do the right thing by you. I can do that because I don’t have a grower that’s bringing the onions that calls me and says, “I know I had a deal with you, but it’s not that good anymore.” “I know how to deal with you, but my onions are bad.” I have a lot more to fall back on so that I can make a customer comfortable even though they’re paying a little bit more.

What would you say is the most challenging hurdle in agriculture industry?

The biggest challenge we have and the reason that we’re socially speaking in many places as we can is the consumer’s understanding of where their food comes from. There’s nothing more frustrating than to have everything for three generations invested in a farm and for me to be so proud of that. I am very proud to be a farm kid. I’ll get on an airplane and sit next to someone and they’ll ask what I’ll do. The first thing they ask me is, “You’re a rich farmer and you’re not concerned about pesticides or what you’re putting in the soil or how you take care of the land. It’s all about money for you guys, isn’t it?” It’s frustrating to be demonized in so many places because people don’t understand what it takes. We don’t want to douse our onions with pesticides, but the economics still have to work. We can’t grow a crop and lose money on it and be in business. We only grow what the consumer consumes. I can’t grow something that isn’t in demand because it’s a commodities market. You can get after me, but what would you like me to do? I can’t grow something unless you’re going to buy it.

What do you see the future of agriculture in the US with regulations and import and export? What would you say based on your knowledge of the industry?

The industry is in a pretty significant downturn at the moment. It’s countercyclical to the stock market because everyone flees the commodities market and goes into the stock market. That’s kind of an odd place. As long as the economy has been good, we’ve been in a challenging market. That’s the overall 40,000-foot view of agriculture. The biggest challenge within the industry, and this goes back to the consumer again, is we don’t think about where our food comes from anymore. There are some that do, but largely we don’t.

Isn’t the trending upwards with organic and all these different healthy foods?

It is some and that has helped us to be able to sell better because people care where their food comes from somewhat. There was a thing that I was at, The New York Produce Show. It was Jim that said it, but I’m not sure who the speaker was, but they said, “If you had some alien who was receiving transmissions from the US and they heard the talking points about food in the United States and organic and regenerative, sustainable. The consumer wanting to know where their food comes from and how much clout we give that, we would think that Whole Foods would be the largest retail company in the United States of America. It’s not. It’s Walmart.” As much as we give clout to that and that has helped us as a business. I’m not discounting it as a truth, but I am discounting quantitatively how valuable it is. That the consumer has not adopted as much of that as we think.

The consumer's understanding of where their food comes from is the biggest challenge for the agriculture industry. Click To Tweet

A lot of it comes from listening to the news or going into the local store and maybe seeing some pamphlets without actually being close to a farm and not living in places where there are farms anymore. I could say for myself, the last time I was in Israel and I visited some farms, it gave me a totally different perspective when I sat with farmers and I spoke where they’re growing and what they’re doing with the food and what if the weather is not cooperative? What it does to the farm, the crops and so on and so forth. It opened me to a totally new perspective. Even from this conversation, the next time I’m going in to shop for onion, I didn’t even realize there are so many different onions. Let me ask you and then we’ll get to our closing questions. How does the day in your life look like?

For me, I wear a lot of different hats. I typically start between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. I’m not an early riser. Even as a farm kid, that’s the one weakness that I have. I tend to work from about 8:00. I’ll take my son into school, roll in to the office, which is connected to our packing shed. I answer phone calls and emails. I do a lot of sales, but I do a lot of the logistics side of the operation. Not logistics from a trucking standpoint, but trying to keep the operation running. That means I need to know how many loads of onions are going out. Typically, if that’s 10 to 12 semi-loads a day for us, I’m going to look at what’s going out. I’m going to try and get a feel quickly for what the market is. Because it’s a commodities market, it’s always moving.

I’m going to talk to my customers, my buyers and try and get a feel of what my pricing needs to be for the day. 9:15 rolls in, I go to a production meeting with my production team so that we can say, “This is what’s going on. It looks like there’s a little bit more demand for reds. What does our red quality look like? How many loads can we get out? What do we have that’s an extra product on the floor that we need to get sold as a sales team?” We’ll go through that running day at the start of the day. Even though the packing line started at 7:00, it’s soon enough for us to come together and try and meet minds because you can run into a place where sales and production are fighting against each other, and I can’t have that. We need everyone on the same team. We don’t want to sell a bunch of onions or a specific size or for something that we don’t have or that we can’t produce that day.

For us, it’s about trying to be on the same team. I’ll go to that production meeting that’s 15 to 30 minutes. I have an operations meeting with all the people doing maintenance and the overall operations of the facilities. We go through what maintenance issues we have, try and keep everyone organized and on task, which is difficult for all of us. I’ll drop back in. Usually, I’m sitting basically behind a sales desk from 9:45 until 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. Once everyone calms down and we’re done shipping, I’ll typically work until 7:00 or 8:00 and I get another 2 or 3 hours of the end of the day to regroup when everything else slows down. As long as we’re packing, there are a lot of fires and distractions that are hard to keep myself away from. That’s my point where I can focus and touch base with customers via email or get a feel for what’s happening.

This was eye-opening for the agriculture industry and a little bit of understanding of what sets you apart, one farmer versus the other, and also how you’re adapting to new technology to help you speed up the process. I urge you to follow our guest for a bunch of great videos in getting some real visual insights into the farm. Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Number one. A book that changed your life?

Good to Great.

Number two, a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?

Service, quality, price. Pick two.

Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?

I don’t think so.

A lot of people pick that one. Number four, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?

Candidly, I want a jet. I fly airplanes. Someday, I want to be able to get a jet.

LTB 41 | Running A Family Business
Running A Family Business: Vertical integration means you control everything in your company from packing, shipping, and everything else.

 

Shay, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable and that is why in the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.

Thanks so much. I’m grateful to be here.

Thank you.

Links Mentioned:

About Shay Myers

LTB 41 | Running A Family BusinessShay Myers is a third-generation farm-kid and so incredibly proud of that. He grows enough food on HIS FAMILY FARM to feed literally TEN’s of MILLIONS of AMERICANS.

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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