To make the critical move toward competent business management of a family farm is no easy task.

“Farms are just like any small business; they fail if not run properly,” says family farm manager Jacob Wagers, when discussing the need to take family farms to the next level. “So many fail when they make a generational change.”

That shift came unexpectedly when he and his brothers lost their father in a 2005 automobile accident. Fortunately, he left behind a strong business with years of data and a wife who was highly involved but allowed the boys to run the farm.

While the farm is still in transition, it’s making strides in efficiency. Each brother’s formal job description is built into the farm’s organizational chart. With their mother, they are voting members on the farm’s board of directors. An off-the-farm advisory board is in the works, as are position-based contracts, continuation plans in the event of a brother’s death and formal hiring plans for farm heirs.

It’s all part of the Wagers’ efforts to shift focus from day-to-day operations to build a long-term organizational strategy.