Brothers position farm for rapid grain delivery and the next generation
After winning the 2014 Top Producer of the Year Award, Lubbers Farms doubled down on succession planning. That focus became especially important with the arrival of three little girls to the family, says Lee Lubbers, who farms 20,000 acres of corn, soybeans and winter wheat near Gregory, S.D., with his brother, Terry.
Since the award, Lee married his wife, Jane, and they have had two daughters, Zyleigh and Zoe. Terry also married his wife, Rhea, and they have one daughter, McKenzie.
“It’s a big influence in our business,” Lee explains. “We were very legacy oriented being the fourth generation, but now that we have the fifth generation, it just means that much more to us.”
The brothers make a point of spending time with fellow farm executives, who have encouraged them to focus on legacy planning as a means of preserving the farm company’s culture for the future.
The operation had trust-purchase agreements and life insurance, Lee says, but now they are taking their plans to the next level.
“We see all the other women that are running operations and overseeing operations, and what they’re doing in the world of ag,” Lee says. “We know our legacy is in as good of hands as it would be with sons.”
Beyond cultivating the leadership of their farm for the next generation, Lee and Terry also are investing in technology, assets and infrastructure for the business. This summer, for example, they began the process of replacing five smaller grain bins with two larger bins with a total capacity of about 1.5 million bushels.
Technology Efficiency. They will be able to observe each with the AgriDry bin-monitoring system and an accompanying mobile app.
“When we raise the grain, as soon as it hits the bin, it officially becomes inventory,” Lee says. “With sensors, we can manage and keep a better eye on it. Our fans run more efficiently.”
The farm team also uses auto-steer on tractors, row shutoffs on planters and swath control on sprayers. Financial information is updated regularly and pushed out in digital format to its accounting firm, lender and crop-insurance agent.
That efficiency, coupled with a broad network of contacts, enables the farm to rapidly process major orders. Recently, a regional terminal notified the farm it would be short 160,000 bu. of corn to fill a railroad car order. The brothers teamed up with a local trucking firm with more than 20 semi trucks and fulfilled the shortfall in two days.
“People contact us because they view us as a preferred producer,” Lee says. “They know we can handle what they need, and we strive really hard at raising a quality product.”