Inspiration to Lead

June 30, 2012 12:49 AM
Inspiration to Lead

By Paul Rovey

My father’s actions planted the seeds of success

Succession planning is more than meeting with attorneys, negotiating a price for the farm and passing on the land. For our family, succession planning includes leaving a legacy of leadership that is planted, nurtured and grown through generations.

My father, Emil Rovey, was only five years old when his dad passed away. He, his mother and three brothers continued the 80-acre family farm. My father was a hands-on farmer, whether it was night irrigating, milking cows, driving tractors, ordering water or paying employees.

In 1941, he married my mother, Helen, and raised nine children. My great-grandfather, a German immigrant, encouraged my father to provide farms for each of his children. His counsel: "Grow more corn to feed more pigs to buy more land to grow more corn." My father embraced that philosophy.

Find your passion. When we became adults, my father encouraged us to pursue our own passion. He said, "Here’s an opportunity, if it fits you. I’ll help you in any way I can, but you have to make it go. If you do, it’s because of you, not me."

He co-signed loans for us, which enabled me to purchase a dairy farm and 60 acres. My siblings had the same opportunity.

As I reflect on my father’s legacy, I know it was his leadership that helped us get to where we are today. He understood that in a strong industry, opportunities abound.

He was a lifetime member of the Glendale-Peoria Farm Bureau, director of the Southwest Producers and Consumers Cooperative, and helped organize Co-op Dairy, which merged into United Dairymen of Arizona in 1964. From 1952 to 1959, he was president of the American Dairy Association of Arizona. He was named "Man of the Year in Arizona Agriculture" by the state FFA and elected to the Salt River Project council and the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation board of directors.

My father held a real sense of obligation to give back to the community and to agriculture, and he passed that on to us.

Now, I tell my children, "Discover what you want to do, where you want to go, what you want to be, and your mom and I will work like crazy to help you get there."

My wife, Debbie, and I are not trying to tell what our children do. Whatever they need, we’ll help them be successful at it. But they have to create it by themselves to build a sense of pride in their work. The word "success" is embedded in "succession" for a reason.

I believe we need to protect our personal legacies and our industry’s legacy. It boils down to this: What do we want to leave the next generation: obstacles or opportunities?

Paul Rovey owns Ponderovey Dairy in Glendale, Ariz. His father’s legacy lives on through their 2,000-head Jersey dairy. Visit

Bonus Content:

Watch this episode of "Leave a Legacy TV" featuring Paul and Debbie Rovey.

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