As you know, farming is a tough business. It’s gone through many challenges over the decades, and in recent years, as organic farmers have developed the farmer’s markets and CSA ways of selling, it’s continued to present new challenges of social media and marketing. Many farms are also legacy businesses, passed down through the generations with young children learning and participating in tending the land, animals, and the business end of the enterprise.
Family Business, Producers of Healthy Foods: Meats and Eggs
Sunshine Harvest Farm is just such a vibrant business, four generations in the making. Three work closely together on a day-to-day basis, and young grandchildren are fast-growing. We’ll see if they join in the business down the road.
What they say about their business:
We are a fourth-generation family farm. Our passion for farming and love of good food is what helped us create our business. We work with like-minded neighboring farmers to help bring the highest quality food from our farm to your table. As we go through our workday we think about our patrons by name, and it is a reminder to us of how important our work truly is.
The Work We Did Together
Mike Braucher reached out to me a number of years back when he felt discouraged by the impacts that markets were having on what he loved about the business he’d inherited from his father. Friends with other farmers I’d worked with he came in with his son Brandon, who is much like an equal and partner in the enterprise. Soon Mike’s gregarious brother Patrick joined in to explore what to do with this longtime family business.
Over the course of 2 years, we partnered, coached, and consulted to:
- Explore their current business model selling mainly at farmer’s markets.
- Discuss and experiment with many of the new business models emerging (especially shipping foods around the country and packaging meals that had just blossomed as a potential.)
- Increase Mike’s leadership confidence and competency, making decisions more definitively based on how many years of experience.
- Upgrade their online platforms and presence, reconnect with former customers they’d lost contact with, and gather insights on what people most appreciated about Sunshine Harvest products and farmers.
- Upgrade and make some physical improvements in their operation which streamlined things.
- Clarify everyone’s duties and schedules, and make sure everyone in the family and on the team had the necessary resources for outside activities and time away from farm duties.
- Pair this with getting them consultation with a financial planning colleague to see how secure they were now and in the future—all 4 generations of their family and the young ones coming up behind.
- Clarify their values, what they loved and were missing in life.
- Envision what life would hold if they were thriving and happy.
During this process, I met the entire family, extended family, team and got everyone’s input. I visited the main farm and saw them at each of their city farmer’s markets frequently.
What emerged out of this exploration was just how much their customers loved them, loved their fine healthy product. Their customers are loyal and so happy to see them at the markets. Financially they got clear about a very stable picture for all. Brandon bought a house for his young family. Money was allocated for everyone’s future so though not wealthy, they knew what they had going was a good thing and supported a large group of people they called family.
A major key to the continued success of this enterprise was encouraging each of the active business members—Mike, Brandon, and Patrick— to become actively involved in the theater and artistic, athletic, and spiritual pursuits they were missing but not engaged in fully. Very quickly as we began our coaching/consulting sessions, I’d learn more and more about their “hobbies.” I hate to call them that because these guys are amazingly talented human beings with multiple talents and super supportive of one another’s pursuits. Patrick became involved as an actor and director in local theater. Brandon is trained in Reiki and studied various forms of healing. Plus he and his wife are actively involved in their children’s education. And Mike has a passion for getting on his Harley and riding across the country.
As they settled on the core business and allowed it to be their source of income and as they refocused on enlarging and enriching the rest of their life, they became content.
Now when I see them frequently at the Mill City Farmer’s Market, not only do I indulge in the tasty meats and eggs, but we talk and share how good things are. And how they know what to do to keep it thriving.
I can’t thank you enough for all of the help, insights, encouragement and guidance you have given us over the past two years. During our journey together my family and I have greatly benefited and continue to move more easily forward in business and life, using the helpful tools and skills that you have taught us.
Some quick catch up: I want to share because you are an integral part of all of this positive activity that you have helped us achieve. (The generations) are all doing our daily work together on the farm and at markets. And we are involved in our own individual creative endeavors as well…. community theater, performing and directing… opening an office with others that practice massage and acupuncture. I have begun to write music and play my instruments again….. also skiing, mountain biking and hockey.
With your help we have all been able to move through some sad losses, challenging times and adjustments in our business and personal lives. We have actually began to thrive with other activities along with our daily work. These outside activities have helped us to deal with the ups and downs on the farm, in business and also in everyday life.
We feel really feel good that the door is open with you for any needs in the future. We are able to move forward with our work and lives in a much better “mind set” and “skill set” thanks to you!
In much gratitude,
Mike Braucher, Sunshine Harvest Farm
Hi, Mike (Brandon and Patrick too:)
Happy holidays and whew…thank goodness for the New Year! I hope you and your entire family (including those little chicken eggs!) are staying warm and toasty this week.
I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know how you are all doing.
I’ve seen you, Brandon, and Patrick evolve from quite dissatisfied, somewhat angry, and confused about the business – its direction and negative impacts on your life and psyches – all the way to look at your values, “owning” your individual and collective strengths, claiming what’s most important to each of you and your families, while at the same time doing what you do best for your customers and making peace with the fact that you have a GREAT multi-generational business that supports your needs financially while allowing you to branch out and spend time exploring other things you love!
(Wow. I get goosebumps as I write that. Goosebump moments have happened a lot around you folks these past 2 years!)
You’ve each taken risks to look at the 4th generation family business you helped create, at what you value in a whole, integrated life, and what you value in the business itself.
Each of you squarely faced what was not working, the dissatisfaction, and the changes you were challenged to make in leadership style, clarifying roles, smoothing systems, and making decisions about all relationships – with employees, customers, your families, and with one another.
You should be very proud of what you have accomplished during these past two years. I am very proud of you and happy as you reap the benefits of the hard work it takes to face dissatisfaction and find the willingness to make difficult changes. It takes courage and commitment not everyone invests.
You continue to do the hard work (inner and outer) but it is not so “hard” because you are doing it fully aligned, and with such grace and dignity.
I have felt so honored to be a part of your transition from dissatisfaction to contentment with your business, prosperity with your families, and positively GLOWING with creativity and happiness in your life.
That said, thank you for being in my life. Thank you for feeding me this year. Thank you for being such good men. Call on me anytime, I’m “in your back pocket!” Send me referrals of like-minded people so we can expand this contentment. Congrats to all 3 of you on the new creative endeavors.
Big hugs, And… I’ll see you at the Farmer’s Markets in the coming year!
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