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Strong relationships fuel farm success

Reference: FCC

When relationships are nurtured with all stakeholders – from immediate family members to employees, suppliers, community and industry – good things are bound to happen.

That’s certainly the case at Under the Hill Farms Ltd. and Over the Hill Farms Ltd., the enterprises owned and operated by the Berry family near Cypress River, Man. Fun fact: one farm got its name because it becomes visible when you drive over a hill; the under the hill moniker was chosen for the potato business and the need for spuds to grow under hills.

Over the past two decades, brothers Doug and Bruce Berry, together with their sons Chad and Kevin, have combined big ideas, efficiency, measured risk, and a team approach to drive growth. Today the combined operation seeds 13,000 acres of diversified crops.

Mitigating risk

Some might call the Berrys aggressive when it comes to growing the farm business, but Chad views it through a different lens.

“We’re definitely risk takers, but we try to make sure everything’s the right size and it justifies the equipment we have to use to get the job done. The efficiencies of running the farm definitely show up as you get to a certain size; you can buy better and you can market better.”

Efficiencies of low employee turnover

They also have their own view of how to effectively engage, manage and appreciate the people who help make Under and Over the Hill farms successful. With 14 full-time and 20 part-time employees, the operation is one of the largest employers in the Cypress River area. It has very little turnover and a highly motivated team eager to contribute to success.

“You have to treat your staff with respect. The better you treat people, the more you get accomplished; and happy people work better than unhappy people,” Chad says. “Most of our staff are long-term employees. If someone comes out here, if they fit in, they’re going to be here as long as they want to be.”

A reliable and committed staff also makes the business more efficient. “It reduces training time every season,” Chad says. “You’re not always explaining the machinery and equipment to people. They understand how it runs and that means less breakdowns and less accidents.” With many fields to navigate, long-term staff know their way around... Read More