November 3, 2017
As Iott Seed Farms continues to look forward and plan for the future, we would like to share a few words to let all of our friends in the potato industry know where we are heading.
Succession planning, transition planning, whatever you call it, the graying heads at Ag meetings mean that we all have some work to do to ensure that our businesses continue seamlessly into the future. The Iott family has been farming in Michigan for more than 100 years. My Dad was part of the continuum of a legacy that we deeply want to continue. Five years ago we recruited Bryan Fischer to work with Greg and me, with the intention of setting up our business so that he would be prepared to continue supplying quality seed potatoes to the Michigan Potato Industry.
We have made a lot of progress.
I will be 62 next March. We have signed enough legal documents to ensure that the farm remains intact into the future. Contrary to a lot of rumors, I have not retired … yet. The goal is to turn over more and more of the everyday work of running the farm to Bryan and Greg. I really enjoy being involved in the farm and the Michigan potato industry and plan on continuing, eventually in more of an advisory capacity. The plan is for Dawn, my wife of almost 37 years, and me to take more time to travel, fish and bird hunt and of course, spend time with my son Jesse, his wife Alyson, and his beautiful twin girls, Jameson and Gibson.
By now you all should have met Bryan. Bryan is the oldest son of my sister Karen. Bryan and Amber have been married for 10 years and have three children, Kaden, Abbey and Lucas. I think you will agree that he has the skills and personality to be an integral part of the Michigan potato success story. We have a great crew here at the farm. Dan Marcusse has been with us for 20 years and Tom Dixon for 3 both are awesome team members and very important to our success.
We are growing for you. We have added capacity at a good rate over the past years. Acreage has increased by 40% since 2000 and 20% since 2010. We have built 12 storage bins since 1998, when we stopped growing process potatoes, a 4.5X increase in capacity. We have purchased enough land to increase another 60,000 cwt in the next 4 years. Sustainable growth is a challenge. We have 2 wells, 6 center pivots, four more potato bins and a lot of supportive equipment in our capex plan. Rest assured that we have plans to meet your needs for a long time to come.
It is awesome to see some young faces at potato functions. There is a great crop of young growers who should have the ability to lead this industry in to the next 40 years. I look forward to observing, helping when possible, mentoring if I can. Being involved in the potato industry in Michigan has been an honor and a privilege. Some of my best friends are people that I have met because we grow potatoes. I look forward to continuing those great relationships while watching, and maybe helping a new group learn how to run the show.