Successful family enterprises work on family harmony as an integral part of their long term plans. Unger Farms Inc., a past recipient of an Excellence in Family Business Award for Family Harmony, sees harmony as crucial to continuing the farm through the next generation and beyond. Co-Owner Kathy Unger checked in to answer a few questions about how their family stays connected.
Can you share a little about your business, and how your family members are involved?
Matt and I have been farming since 1981 and we incorporated our business in 1984. Matt grew up on a family farm where they grew strawberries, potatoes and other row crops, he is a third generation farmer. We have 4 children Will, Brian, Laura, and Greg. They are all married and we have 5 grandchildren. We grow on a 140 acres, Strawberries, blueberries, Blackberries and Raspberries. Our oldest son Will works full time as a manager of the farm with plans of taking over when Matt and I retire. The other 3 and their spouses all help out in many different ways, marketing, advertising, delivering, designing equipment, maintenance, sales at markets, accounts receivable, tractor driving, and all are sounding boards for Matt and I when we need help making decisions.
How does your family handle important business decisions where input from everyone is critical?
Typically the big decisions are made by Will, Matt and Myself. We have weekly or semi-weekly meetings for planning purposes, and the rest of the family is always there for support and input if we need it, we are truly blessed to have our family involved outside of their daily lives.
How do you keep connected with family members who are not directly involved in the operation of the farm?
We get together once a year when possible just for a weekend trip (no farm talk). We also get together for dinner often. One challenge we have now is everyone has kids involved in all sorts of activities that make it difficult to schedule dinners with everyone.
Do you work together as a family on community service or philanthropic efforts?
Matt and Will are involved in the strawberry and blueberry commissions and I am involved with the farmers markets and teaching a 3rd grade class about farming but we do not yet do any community service work as a family.
About Unger Farms
Unger Farms Inc., is a family-owned and operated berry farm in Cornelius, Oregon. When berries are in season you can find them at many Portland Metro Area farmers' markets as well as New Seasons Market stores. The family also operates a farm store on the property. Unger Farms Inc., won the 2014 Excellence in Family Business Award for Family Harmony. Learn more about Unger Farms Inc., online.
View the Excellence Awards video for Unger Farms Inc., from 2014: