October 2011 Newsletter

By Karl Kupers on October 24, 2011

I know I have discussed the following before but sometimes thoughts bear repeating. I did not spend time going through the archive to see when I discussed the thought of how “team” has had such an influence on Shepherd’s Grain but it certainly seems appropriate to be repetitive.

From the beginning Fred and I have reminded ourselves of our history with the team concept and the success we achieved. The reminder is seeing how much of that influence is reflected in the culture and success we enjoy today. Fred and I both came from small rural schools in Eastern Washington with a classification of under 150 students in the top three grades. My school only had a little over 100 in the top four grades. Both of us played sports as we were growing up so the idea of team over self was imprinted on us very early. We were also very lucky to have some very strong leadership from the coaching level at the same time we reached our high school years and both achieved state championships during that time period. This was only achieved because we adhered to the team aspect and when you are successful at something it becomes a long fiber of your future.

The genesis and short history of Shepherd’s Grain has the team concept imprinted on it wherever you look. The idea of horizontal integration is all about finding people and ideas that have a like need or goal which is the basis of all our partnerships in production, processing, and delivering a quality product to our customers. We have had the question of why not develop your own mill and distribution system and the answer is simple, utilize those around you (team) who are good at what they do and share in the success. The value of finding chefs, bakers, restaurateurs, mix manufactures, and retailers who have that desire to be involved in a team of producers, processors and distributors is the only way that makes sense to Fred and I. The emotional connection within a team no matter the level of your success creates a sustainable business atmosphere. That same emotion allows for positive negotiations as we seek to enter into projects that go beyond the building block of Shepherd’s Grain which is the wholesale market to our base of chefs and bakers.

Since the beginning when it was just Fred and I to now, when the “management team” has grown to 5, we operate as not individuals but a collection of different talents that can generate much more as a team than the same group acting individually. We expect the respect for each other’s talent, we enjoy the success each has in fulfilling their roles in the team, and we seek to push each other to be better. All this is to be personified in our deliverables to our partners and customers.

As I conclude this newsletter the idea of a new “tag line” that embodies who we are is “become a part of the Shepherd’s Grain team”. Enjoy each other’s talent, enjoy the success each has in fulfilling their roles on the team, and do seek to push each other to be more successful. Together the idea of a sustainable regional food system can become a reality as a “team” much sooner than acting individually.

As always, thank you for your support and participation as part of the Shepherd’s Grain team.

The Shepherd’s Grain family of food producers.