Growing up on a farm can be an experience that stays with you for life in everything you do. The care you give to the land and animals teaches you a respect and work ethic like no other. To be a farmer you have to be focused on your farm resources, productivity and vision for the future. Even if a farmer leaves the farm, it will be in their mind and find a way of calling them back. His Eastern Nebraska farm upbringing did just that for Ben and wife Morgan.
His childhood spent on his family’s horse farm was one Ben will always be thankful for. With his first real job as a manager at a body shop, he then attended college and graduated to be offered a job at Napa Auto Parts. This position led Ben and Morgan to move around the country. After nearly a decade of that career, Ben had enough. “I wanted to get back home and get to my roots, I wanted to get out of the corporate world. I wanted to work and feel good about it, get my hands dirty and get outside,” recalls Ben.
The decision to return to Eastern Nebraska was one made for the whole family. With the dream to help farmers and make it a lifestyle for their children, the Farm Focused business was born in 2015. “When I started Farm Focused, the intent was to bring different types of efficiencies to the field for farmers. We started working on soil products that helped conserve input for row crop farmers, save fertilizer and pesticide usage. I started working part time for some of these farmers too, planting, harvesting and working on equipment while I was building my business,” tells Ben.
The Farm Focused brand has become more than a service for farmers. Now it can be found on apparel as a way to represent the new efficient ways of farming Ben offers. “We started a service where we electronically tune diesel engines for efficiency, save fuel and get more power. In the mean time I was creating different apparel items to give my customers to say thank you and get the word out about the brand,” says Ben.
With what begin as setting up tent at a county fair to sell the Farm Focused apparel, now has become an online store that keeps Ben busy every morning fulfilling orders. “The logo started catching on and people started identifying with the Farm Focused brand. Over the last two years Farm Focused has been molded into a brand for farm and rural folks. Our everyday life in the work we do, people we associate with and what we do for fun is that Farm Focused mentality,” says Ben.
With the brand growing, Ben even offers his merchandise services to other agriculture influencers like Zach the MN Millennial Farmer. “The brand is more than just somebody creating a logo and saying buy my stuff. It’s the people behind the brand and what they work too do everyday,” says Ben.
With the demand for food production growing and the need to be sustainable, Ben’s services offers new ways for farmers to be efficient. “We work with the farmers to reduce inputs, maintain yields and save money. To be more sustainable and smarter with how money is spent. There’s a lot of things you can continue to do the same way because it’s tried and true, but there’s things where ways need to be pushed to the limit. Sustainability is a big one,” explains Ben.
His expertise in new methods of sustainability and equipment efficiency has taken years of experience. Ben’s advice for anyone wanting to learn more about farm production starts by working with farmers, “Almost every farmer I have met is willing to teach people and put them to work. Visit some farms to find out who would be willing to give you a job. Another thing I spent a lot of time doing is researching the local classes and seminars. The University of Nebraska and Extension Services have a wealth of knowledge and anyone can take them,” says Ben, “For example, I’ve learned about cover crops. It’s a practice that is gaining popularity. I didn’t know anything about it except some guys were using it as a sustainable smarter practice. I went to a gathering for local farmers where experts were brought in to talk about cover crops.”
Running his own business gives Ben flexibility in his day. “I’m usually on the phone, computer or on the road working with farmers on our other offerings. So we are looking at fields to see how our soil products are performing or at their shop working on a piece of machinery with tuning. We can also tune remotely, I’ll have shipped a piece of equipment and I’ll be on the phone working back and forth electronically on the tuning,” describes Ben.
Though his farm services and growing online store keep him and wife Morgan busy, any chance they get to spend with their children is one taken. “In the summer time with the kids home, any chance I get I’ll take an afternoon to go fishing with them or take the family to lunch. That’s something I really missed out on in a corporate job. It was part of the reason for this change. I’ll also take time to work in my own shop and build something. My wife and I are building a house right now so I’m working on projects for that,” says Ben.
Focus stays on farming and the future of his family. “I thought to myself, if I had stayed on the corporate path when my kids grow up and look back on life what would they say? Would they be proud of the job I did, did I help people, did I make a difference? Or did I just go to a 9 to 5 everyday and just come home tired? I made the change so when my kids look back on what dad did when they were growing up, it would be something they would be proud of and something they could be apart of if they want to.
It’s been really good for our relationship and they see directly more of what I’m doing. It’s been positive being back home around the horse farm and the amount of work that requires and getting them involved in that has been huge. It taught me life lessons as a kid and I hope it does the same for them,” says Ben.
The Farm Focused business doesn’t stop at impacting his family and the farmers he works with.
It’s enabled Ben and Morgan to give back through fundraising campaigns. “We just got done with one where Zach the Millennial Farmer and myself raised almost $3,000 for the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Then not too long ago with the flooding in the Midwest there was a lot of devastation, so we wanted to use the business to make a difference for those folks. We designed a fundraiser shirt where 100% of the profits went to farmers. We raised $12,000 given to families directly that lost almost everything in the flood. To see the impact we made where people get involved to buy these shirts to support Nebraska and Iowa farmers was such a neat thing,” says Ben.
Photo credit to Farm Focuses website and social media