By Michael Uetz
Once a year we close our offices and gather our team members in the same location. For some companies, getting everyone in the same place wouldn’t be a big deal. For us, it is. We work out of two offices in two different states and have three more individuals in home offices in other states. Once a year we are all together for a few of days of work and fun. The objectives for this year’s meeting were two-fold: 1) to review Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, in order to ensure all team members understand and embrace his teachings for building an effective team, and 2) to allow team members to spend some casual time getting to know one another better.
Midan adopted the team building learnings from Lencioni’s book a number of years ago. In it, he identifies five pitfalls that teams often fall prey to that prevent effective teamwork. Those pitfalls are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. Following his team building recommendations, over the years we believe we’ve developed an incredibly effective team that, as a result, delivers better results for our clients. We revisit Lencioni’s book every year during our team meeting, as it provides a great opportunity for the team members who have been with us for a long time to review the key learnings for team building, and it allows our new members to hear about and participate in the program.. Once again this year, our team’s discussion was inspiring. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Lencioni’s book, I highly recommend it.
Another given for each of our team meetings is an industry tour of some sort. In the past we’ve visited cattle, hog and dairy operations.. Our goal is to educate team members on all aspects of the meat industry. While many of our team members grew up in agriculture, some did not. Our team members that weren’t labeled as youngsters as “farm kids” are hired for their marketing/communications and/or research expertise. These tours allow us to introduce them to the meat industry and gain not only an understanding of its structure, but also instill in them an appreciation for those who raise and care for the animals that feed our nation and the world.
This year’s team meeting was held in Orlando, FL and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit KEMPFER CATTLE CO., (a family cow/calf operation), located just south of Orlando in Saint Cloud. Kempfer Cattle Co. is currently being managed by fourth and fifth generation family members who are determined to make a difference in all that they do. While their operation is well diversified, including a saw mill, hunting operation and sod farm, in addition to their purebred Brahman and commercial cattle programs, the core of this family operation lies in producing the best beef they possibly can. Their purebred Brahman program includes genetics research designed to improve the tenderness and quality of their Brahman beef. They’ve taken on this challenge not only as a way to ensure opportunities for the next generations of Kempfers on the ranch, but also to improve the Brahman breed and make it a high demand item for Florida and other warm climate producers to raise and market.
But as important as their work in genetics and diversification, what struck me from our visit to the ranch was the family’s commitment to continue to build a solid foundation upon which future generations of Kempfers will be able to stay involved in agriculture as long as they have the desire. You could not help but feel the passion this family has for their cattle, the land, and this way of life. Billy and Reed (fourth generation), Henry, George and Jimmy (fifth generation) spent half a day with our Midan team sharing details of their operation, its long history, and the challenges and opportunities it provided to all family members over the years. We discussed current industry issues, breed genetics improvements, challenges in inheritance opportunities, the importance of diversification, and the logistics of raising, feeding and marketing cattle in up markets and down. We rode what the team affectionately called “Swamp Buggies” across acres and acres of land to look over their pure-bred and commercial herds and saw firsthand the result of all their hard work. It was an incredible day, and an amazing opportunity for the Midan team.
At the end of our day as our team debriefed on our experience at Kempfer Cattle Co., I could tell that this family had provided us with the ideal opportunity to share with our team an example of why we do what we do day in and day out. We do it for families like the Kempfers. We do it in order to assist in creating opportunity for all those men and women who work the land and raise their animals in an effort to do what they love on a daily basis, but also to develop products that feed a hungry world. To the Kempfer family and all the other farmers and ranchers out there who do the same every day, we thank you for all you do and wish you success and longevity.