Should You Be Considering an Advisory Board for your Farm Operation?
4 October 2017
A while ago, Big Ag introduced you to Kassi Tom Rowland of Tom Farms. Kassi offered her advice in our Tips for Managing a Large Scale Family Farm article. Big Ag has asked Kassi if she would share her experience of being a part of the advisory board for Tom Farms which was started back in 2011. Below we discuss aspects and benefits of being a part of an advisory board.
Q: How long has Tom Farms had an advisory board?
We have had an advisory board since 2011.
Q: What led to creating an Advisory Board? Was there a breaking point where it was necessary?
As a growing business I believe peer advisory groups can be a cost effective way to help our farms management team address the need for continual exposure to different perspectives and new ideas, as well as providing a way to continue the never ending process of finding ways to become better managers. I think the breaking point for us was my dad, Kip was involved in a pretty bad car accident and I am sure thoughts were going through his head, if I was badly hurt and wasn’t able to continue managing the farm, what would happen? We know with the advisory board, those folks would jump right in where he left off and help any way they could.
Q: What types of things does an advisory board do/help with that farm employees can’t?
The folks on our advisory board have all sorts of backgrounds, mostly all Agriculture related though. From business owners, to Ag professors, they are all valuable. We talk at our meetings about the long term vision of the farm, industry trends, finances, strategic projects, transition, and other observations along the way.
Q: What are the biggest benefits of an advisory board for Tom Farms?
They provide valuable input on a variety of topics from an outside prospective, and keep us accountable!
Q: What is the time commitment in an Advisory Board?
We have very valuable folks around the table at our bi yearly meetings, so we know that we need to get as much information from them as possible during our short time together. Our family business consultant Lance Woodbury normally sets the agenda and we keep it to 1 day. Everyone that sits around the table is able to see the agenda ahead of time, and we make changes as we see fit.
Q: Do you compensate board members or is it volunteer based? Do you have recommendations either way?
We have a mix of compensated and non-compensated folks around the table. Our advisory board we have 3 paid advisors, they are compensated and we pay for their travel if needed. Others around the tables are our banker, lawyer, accountant, along with our management team which are not compensated. I think it is important that the advisors are paid, it shows that they are valued, they are committed to sharing valuable information back to the group, and they are away from their own businesses for a couple of days.
As you can see, having an advisory board on your operation can be critical to its growth and success.
Do you have any questions regarding advisory boards? Email us at contact@BigAg.com and we will help you out!