It’s All About Our People
One constant about our farm is our continued growth, which wouldn’t be possible without a dedicated crew. When my father, Bob Lamb, (known as Ol’ Bob around here) began farming, he had one employee. Generations ago, a hired hand or two was always helpful, especially in the rush of planting or harvesting.
Today, we’ve grown beyond having a hired hand or two to a full-time crew of 10, plus a few part-timers such as Levi Kendall, whose full-time job is as a fireman, but he works with us when he’s not on duty. Most of our crew have specific duties and skillsets, such as agronomist, mechanic or operations, and all are critical to the ebb and flow of planting, crop care, harvest, and prep for the next season.
We hire characters… er, I mean for their character.
We didn’t begin with specific job descriptions, instead, we have hired those whom we felt were a good fit for us. We always liked the idea of hiring a person for who they were, then “make” a job for them, and as evidenced by the longevity of many of our employees, it has been a good practice. For instance, Guy Shafer has worked with us for 25 years and what’s even more surprising, he’s only in his 40s. A lot of our guys have been here 10 years or longer.
Most everyone had ties to farming before they joined us at Lamb Farms. Some grew up on a farm or worked in ag-related activities before coming here. Mornings start with a quick group meeting to go over the work for the day, and we take a few minutes just to catch up with everyone socially. From there, we all get busy and work together to make adjustments to the assignments as the day goes on. In farming, the weather dictates so much that everyone learns to be flexible.
We all play our roles
Beyond crop production, maintenance and trucking are the two major tasks associated with running our farm. Tony Richardson is in charge of our shop. There’s not much that can stump him, as he understands what needs to be done and works hard to keep things running. Jeff Jones is our number one truck driver, hauling a lot of grain and pitching in wherever when he’s not driving.
Guy is in charge of our mulch division, AgRecycle, alongside Bob Basey. Brian Smith runs our non-profit, AgriStewards and Dennis Carrell heads our agronomy service. Even though they have their own specialty areas, we can also rely on them for critical functions in the crunch of planting or harvest.
Running an ag operation of this size means much more administrative work too. It’s a long way from the Norman Rockwell vision of a farmer and his wife at the kitchen table looking at a ledger. Dean Lamb would fill a role much like a chief operating officer, making sure everyone is doing their jobs, I (Don) work more like the CEO, which means a lot of time in the office with administrative work while Dean’s daughter, Ashley, serves as our office manager.
As I mentioned at the start, our dad, Bob – likes to monitor things and keep his eye on the financials. He definitely provides stability and historical context to different situations.
Preparing for the future
As farming trends continue to develop, so does our vision for operations in the future. We want to continue to improve the structure of our organization, get better at defining jobs and responsibilities, as well as succession planning, since we’ll have some children as potential partners in the next 10 years.
We strive to provide a great work environment for our crew, which means benefits such as retirement and health insurance. While those can be challenging for many small businesses, we see it as a wise investment for us here at Lamb Farms, since the people who help us make our farm what it is are dedicated and loyal employees. After all, it’s all about people.