What role do you fill?

By Renee Robinson-Seelye

When you run a small family business you must be prepared to jump into any business role at any time. Personally, I began this life working with my mom on the farm, helping her take care of baby pigs.

I then worked the sweet corn stand with my siblings, helped bale straw, cleaned out barns, built fences, and so on, until it was time for college. At college I enjoyed my time away from the responsibilities of the farm. I enjoyed it too much honestly!

After earning my degree, I dedicated myself to growing our business. It seemed like a natural fit for me.  I was proud of what our business stood for, how it began, and knew there may never be a career that would motivate me more than working with my family.  My role in the business started at the farmers markets.  I also worked the warehouse, went on cold calls, developed pricing structures, answered emails, etc.  Now after having children, my role has become more behind the scenes work; work that can be accomplished at any time, specifically during nap times and night time.

However, considering childcare restraints, at any time I must be ready to drive a truck, fix a fence, pack an order, answer a call, go to a market, take an inventory, balance a checkbook, or price out the next beef.

This also applied when we were hiring our sales rep Daryn. We paid attention to how flexible and multi-faceted he was, because we knew that if he took on this role, there would be times that it would change completely, due to the nature of our business.

Daryn went on vacation last week, his role had to be filled temporarily. So my Dad drove truck with my sister to deliver orders to the City, Nick went back to the market in Lincoln Park, and I talked with a couple prospective clients.

We did it! We survived and morphed back into roles that once were a part of our daily routines. Teamwork undeniably makes the dream work. There are certainly good reasons why we have roles in the first place, based on individual’s strengths and weaknesses, so it was absolutely nice to see Daryn back after his vacation, he was greatly missed.

I also took Lucy to the market with me for the first time last week. Her story has begun a little differently than mine, out at the markets instead of out on the farm doing chores. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see the different roles she plays throughout her time on the farm, however long that may be.


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