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Producing Excellence

Tim and Tom Stuart

Lake Odessa, MI

Products: Corn, alfalfa, wheat, produce, seed and syrup

Size of Operation: 425 acres

In Business Since: 2000

Farm Credit Partner: GreenStone Farm Credit Services

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2007

Tim and Tom Stuart knew from a young age they wanted to farm: Tim was riding in a car seat while his father chopped hay, and Tom was selling pumpkins by age four. Enabling this next generation to come back to the farm while the previous was still living off the land took careful planning, a designation of duties, and the ability to change and adapt management strategies, while adding a level of diversification.

Tim and Tom’s father, Brian, understood diversification and adaptation, having identified lucrative opportunities to pursue and leaving industries when the money wasn’t there. The brothers have joined their father in farming as well as in his approach to business.

After earning an Associate’s Degree, Tim, now 29, went to work in the seed business as well as custom farming as a way to supplement income. “We were doing some round baling and really starting to focus on harvesting hay,” Tim says. He has since built the seed business, more than doubling it since 2005 with about 110 customers buying upwards of 13,000 bags of corn and soybean seed annually. “I work to increase the business by taking really good care of my existing customers, rather than trying to find new customers,” Tim says.

Tom, now 25, is known for his gourmet sweet corn, which buyers will travel up to 40 miles to purchase. “I pride myself on quality and treating my customers the very best I can,” he says. “Treat your customers right and they’ll be back and hopefully they’ll bring friends.” In all, Tom grows about four acres of sweet corn.

Today the farm includes 425 acres and the family custom harvests about 600 to 700 acres of hay, corn, soybeans, and wheat. They put in 1,300 taps for sap on 60 acres that generate about 220 gallons of maple syrup. The brothers have a goal of 10 percent growth a year. “But it has to be healthy and balanced,” Tom says. Tim wants to grow his seed business, while picking up more ground for row crops. “We’re not looking at fast growth that will get us into trouble,” Tim says. “We want to grow with a steady pace and have realistic goals—ones that are achievable.”

GreenStone financial services officer, Luke Bakker, anticipates that the brothers will succeed, saying, “Both Tim and Tom are well respected at such a young age. They are rather conservative by not borrowing more than they can absolutely pay back. They are already successful and will continue to be successful based on their way of doing business.”

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