Poultry Farmer to BAM Mentor: Interview with an Agriculture Veteran

Dan Wiebe grew up in a farming family and started his own poultry business in 1970. With decades of experience behind him, he has more recently connected with the business as mission community and become a mentor to others. We asked him to share a little about his story and some of his advice for those doing BAM in the agriculture sector.

Dan, could you share a bit about your own experience in the agriculture sector, about your own background and how your family business grew?

I grew up in a family agri-business as the youngest of 7 children. My father, a second generation Canadian, had taken Teachers Training in the 1920s and by 1940 retired from teaching to manage his farm in the prairies of Manitoba, Canada. In 1949 he moved our family to western Canada to begin intensive farming with poultry.

By 1970 I was ready to begin my own poultry operation with one chicken house and 10,000 chickens. This was a time when poultry became the consumer’s more popular choice over beef.  Not only was the market expanding rapidly because chicken was a healthy alternative to red meat, but the cost of producing chicken dropped significantly as scientific improvements were introduced in nutrition and selective breeding to bring chickens to market much faster. The use of hormones in chicken production has never been legal in North America so chicken is still the safest and healthiest meat available to consumers.

I grew up observing in our own family business ways to involve all segments of a farming enterprise with the support industry in order to produce a better quality and more efficient end product. I used these lessons to integrate my own farming operation into the only fully vertically integrated chicken farm in Canada, from farm to plate.  Read more

A Journey into Freedom Business: One Woman’s Pre-BAM Story

While many of our readers are post-business plan, trying to figure how to fully implement what’s on that sacred document – making payroll, brokering deals, marketing to clients etc. – there are many other readers still in the ‘dreaming phase’. Perhaps seeds were planted years ago that left a deep imprint on their purpose and direction and since then these pre-BAMers keep taking notes, asking questions and scoping out the market for their product – praying and preparing for the day when the light turns green.

When I first met Rebekah at a BAM conference in 2013, her desire to network and learn from others was immediately obvious. Her gentle yet determined spirit and unyielding passion for vulnerable women keeps her pushing forward to this day. We met together again recently and she updated me on where her BAM journey is up to.

Sharing Rebekah’s story highlights what goes through heart and mind in the lead up to the birth of a BAM company. The hopes and fears, the longings and motivations, the voices of encouragement and discouragement, and the vision that keeps us moving.

When did the idea of you starting a BAM business first take root?

I was on a community development project for two years and saw the underlying problem of people needing jobs. The lack of employment or sub-standard pay in the region resulted in uneducated daughters being sent out to work. In the area I live and work in I did research on human-trafficking. I visited communities that were affected by the problem. I saw girls with little education being trafficked or lured into the big cities with the promise of jobs. I joined a team with the focus on after-care for little girls who came out of the trauma of trafficking. Now looking forward in time, I know that long-term these girls will become women who will still need good jobs. Read more

Dishing It Out: A BAM Consultant on How to Get it Right in F&B

Josh consults with BAM companies in the Food and Beverage (F&B) Industry in both the USA and Asia, helping them be more effective in their operations. As part of our hospitality industry series, we asked him to share with us some of his expertise in café and restaurant management.

You are obviously very passionate about the culinary arts, why is that and what does it have to do with business as mission?

I am very passionate about the power of food. When you prepare food for people there is always the potential to create moments that people might remember forever. Flavours play a big part in both memory making and memory retrieving. Special occasions are often connected to food and flavours can pull on the emotions. Food has the power to be an icebreaker, a community builder, even a context for enemies to sit down at a table together. Those involved in food preparation and service have the power of food at their fingertips – not to mention people’s lives in their hands when it comes to matters of food safety and hygiene!

To me, for all these reasons and others, the restaurant industry is so important in the missions community. Serving food and beverages meets people’s needs and has the potential to create special memories. Food breaks down barriers and gives you access to people that you would never otherwise be able to meet. So many times in the Bible Jesus was eating and drinking with the people that he was trying to minister to. We can also minister in the context of a meal, or when we are preparing that meal. The kitchen can be a place of high pressure, and there is a great camaraderie. People will see who you really are when you are under pressure to deliver great dishes and great service. You can show them what the Kingdom of God is really about in the midst of that.  Read more

New Year’s Resolutions? 3 BAM Owners Share Their Goals for 2017

On New Year’s Sunday my pastor asked for a show of hands of all the people who made New Year’s Resolutions. Out of a crowd of 500 people, he counted only three. I was surprised at the extremely low number. Back in the day, everyone seemed to talk about it. Maybe we have finally faced the fact that bad habits don’t turn off when the new year turns on! Gym memberships mentally expire in February, diets last until the next dinner invitation, To Do lists remain undone… although all start with the best intentions.

Even if New Year’s Resolutions are facing extinction, articulating hopes for the year ahead and setting realistic goals definitely should not be – certainly not for BAM company owners! We thought it would be fun to hear from some hard working vision-filled business people who have a lot at stake for reaching their goals this year.

For a business, setting and reaching goals is essential for company health and growth. Business goals that encompass the four bottom lines of business as mission will impact staff, customers, suppliers and the community broadly. The goals shared below are a snapshot from the longer list of goals each company has for the year. Read more

Interview with Two Business Leaders: Developing People in Your Company

Dream with me. You opened your business two years ago. Your cash flow situation is simply amazing. Clients are knocking down your door to give you business. The surrounding community is praising your efforts in meeting their felt needs. Local leaders see your business as an asset to the city. You have plenty of time to put your feet up due to your amazing staff. You have all the right people doing all the right jobs.

OK, now you can wake up. That was just a dream! It’s actually pretty much every business owner’s dream.

How do you begin to make that dream a reality? Whether you are a new business owner beginning to write your plan, or a seasoned BAMer re-evaluating your plans, don’t forget to include ‘people development’. Your people are potentially the most valuable asset you have.

Jim Collins famously wrote about making sure you have “the right people on the bus“. While this is absolutely true, I believe, having a plan to further develop those people is also critical. With a focused people development plan some of your “right” people will become even more “right” – more than you could have imagined.

We interviewed two business leaders to find out about their approach to people development. We asked them each the same three questions about how they intentionality grow their people and what they have learned about staff development. Read more

Two Company Leaders Look Back: Financial Planning Highs and Lows

When we have a major decision to make, we often ask those around us for input. Sometimes we follow that advice and other times we don’t. Occasionally we might look back and wish we had followed the advice we received from others. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

Drawing on the wisdom of others can be helpful and the benefit of hindsight is illuminating. With those two things in mind, we asked a couple of well established BAM leaders for their advice about financial planning. We asked them to share what has been fruitful and has enabled them to grow companies that are doing well. We also asked them to share the lessons they’ve learned the hard way and what they would do differently in hindsight.

Hospitality Company 

Company A is a Hospitality company with 125 employees, it has two owners and was established 12 years ago.

What financial planning have you done to grow your company to the place it is today?

The growth of our company over the past five years has been quite substantial. We have seen our revenue increase 475%, and our earnings grow 540%. Though our financial planning was not the driver of that growth, it was certainly the foundation. Without the steps we have learned and taken over the years, we would not have been able to facilitate the amazing growth we have seen.  Read more

The Ingredients for a Healthy Business Team Part 2: Best Practices

‘Team troubles’ were one of the top 4 reasons BAM mentors gave for practitioners giving up and going home. The ability to build effective teams and work through difficult team dynamics is therefore crucial for the sustainability of BAM companies. In this interview, we talk to Luke, a BAM business owner living in the Middle East, about his business story and what ingredients make for healthy business teams.

Read Part 1: Business Story

What general principles do you have for any company team for building healthy team relationships?

As soon as you want to build a scalable business the business team becomes super-important. The essence of a successful business is in the team, rather than the individual. To grow you need to be able to manage the business as a team, you need to be able to be on the same page.

I think at the heart of healthy team relationships there is good communication and honesty. These build trust, they reduce the sense of isolation, and they bring unity and agreement on strategy. This is particularly important for teams in multiple locations when there is a high risk of feeling isolated or misunderstood.

Honesty is crucial. Getting to the right level of honesty to enable the team to be most effective can be painful and humbling. Sometimes I don’t want to share when things go wrong, or it’s not looking as good as I hoped. Pride can lead us to partial honesty. I am talking about the temptation to overplay a lead or exaggerate about a potential client because you want to look good. However, partial honesty seriously reduces the ability of the team to manage the business, because they don’t have a clear enough picture of what’s going on. Read more

The Ingredients for a Healthy Business Team Part 1: Business Story

‘Team troubles’ were one of the top 4 reasons BAM mentors gave for practitioners giving up and going home. The ability to build effective teams and work through difficult team dynamics is therefore crucial for the sustainability of BAM companies. In this interview, we talk to Luke, a BAM business owner living in the Middle East, about his business story and what ingredients make for healthy business teams.

Luke, you have a company in the Middle East that offers corporate team building experiences. What lead you into that business?

My professional background is in engineering and engineering requires a high degree of collaboration. There is a strong need to work in effective teams. Then early on in my career, I worked on some projects in the Middle East that got me interested in the dynamics of business and recognising how companies create employment and other benefits for communities.

Over 20 years ago, we got involved in youth ministry with a mission organisation. As part of their training, this mission uses a very intensive week-long personal and team building exercise. Trainees are put under extreme pressure to see how they cope in a team situation. Our experience with that opened my eyes further to the need for healthy team dynamics. Mission workers spend months, maybe years, preparing to go overseas, but if their team falls apart, they may have to come home.

I realised I’d had years of training as an engineer and I didn’t just want to give all that away. I was learning lessons about effective teams myself and becoming motivated to help others be effective. Alongside that, I felt drawn to do business at a heart level. So I had a sense of calling to business, but  it was also becoming a personal passion. I was praying and asking God, “What should I do, youth ministry with this mission organisation or business and engineering?” When God spoke he said, “It’s AND, not OR – do both.” Read more

What Makes a BAMer? Identifying and Deploying the Right People for BAM Companies

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up the spring and head into summer we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for the summer of 2016.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

Interview with Peter Shaukat

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. We asked him to share his insights on recruitment and hiring for BAM companies.

What skills are BAM companies typically looking for?

Virtually any! Management skills in various business disciplines are needed. Those with good financial management skills and experience are almost always in short supply. While bookkeepers can often be found aplenty, ‘Chief Financial Officer’ type skills are another matter. Founding entrepreneurs often lack the business building skills and experience of general management of the sort that a COO or CAO brings to the table.

Marketing and/or especially sales skills and experience are highly sought after. Often an SME-sized BAM company will have some national talent on this, but to trade well internationally they require those with expat credentials for (at least perceived) credibility, access to networks, and marketing/sales channels, etc. These are often in short supply.

BAM businesses often need specific technical and/or professional skill-sets which are particular to the business in question. For example, an environmental consulting company to the textile industry in Bangladesh needs experienced chemical, industrial or systems engineers, while a civil engineering company in Pakistan will be looking for a civil or mechanical engineer or architect. An educational business in Yemen looks for qualified teachers or other education specialists whereas an agribusiness in Iraq requires an agronomist, and so on. Read more