Young business leaders: Greenwald wins Star in Agribusiness
Cheyenne – On April 6, the Wyoming FFA Association honored Makenna Greenwald, a senior from the Torrington-Lingle FFA Chapter with the Wyoming State Star in Agribusiness for her superior work in her custom swathing business.
Greenwald comments, “This means a lot to me. It was only three years ago that I watched my sister win this award on stage. We’ve been running this business together for many years, and it’s been a really long time and a lot of work that we put into it.”
Greenwald’s parents Ed and Tami farm in Goshen County, as well, operating Ed Greenwald Farms, Inc.
Her own business
Greenwald and her sister Kaylee started a custom swathing business when they were looking for an option to keep themselves busy in the summer.
“By owning and operating a custom swathing business in a farming valley, I have been able to provide a service to my family farm and local farms,” she says. “I operate and maintain my swather to cut hay for our customers, and I manage all of the records, finances and inventory for my business.”
She has grown and developed the business through the years to meet the needs of a growing consumer base and the extensive farming industry in Goshen County.
Growing her business hasn’t been easy, though.
“The single greatest challenge I have faced in my business has been planning for each season and the amount of acres we will have cut,” Greenwald explains. “Customers may change their plan for their fields and be on a rotation each year.”
Managing cash flow and scheduling of customers can be a challenge, particularly when also factoring in sports camps and judging practices.
“In the winter, I am also a full-time high school students as well as being heavily involved in sports and FFA,” she says. “All of these activities make it very difficult to be available all the time to cut fields and check cattle.”
To overcome the challenges, however, she works to maintain a positive relationship with each of her customers to maintain open lines of communication and plan for the future.
“I have tackled every challenge with a positive attitude, and I am eager for the future and what challenges lay ahead,” Greenwald notes.
While she sees challenges, Greenwald also sees the fruits of her hard work.
“My biggest accomplishment in my business was getting started,” Greenwald explains. “Sometimes the biggest challenge is just being able to take the first steps. My sister and I decided to start this business together, and she has always been there to help.”
After making a plan, they made a lease-to-own agreement with her father to acquire a sickle swather, she began growing her business.
“Our next accomplishment was being efficient with production,” Greenwald continues. “The first swather we bought was a great investment, but when we acquired more customers, we needed an upgrade.”
They gradually developed the business to purchase a rotary disc swather, which has allowed them to continue growing.
On the side
In addition to running their custom farming operation, Greenwald invested in a series of short-term bred cows to calve in the spring.
“This was a big monetary investment that brought on a lot of responsibility,” she explains. “I was very proud of the risk that I chose to take to reap more reward and grow as a businesswoman.”
Greenwald continues to explain that she obtained her first loan to purchase cows, which was a huge accomplishment in her life.
“Investing in a different venture spreads out the risk that I have,” she says. “From this experience, I now have a grasp on financing, different types of investments and managing the health of cattle.”
Greenwald’s involvement in FFA opened her eyes to the world of meats and livestock judging, in addition to the production agriculture.
“We judged at JBS headquarters, and I found that really interesting,” she says. “I want to get an ag business degree and work for a company like JBS in marketing to talk about the impacts of the agriculture industry.”
She will attend the University of Wyoming in the fall of 2017.
“FFA has played a huge role in my life,” Greenwald says, highlighting her advisor, Jason Groene as an important figure in her life.
“Mr. Groene has been a great advisor and always encouraged my sister and I to grow our business,” she continues. “Even at a young age, we still had contact with him as our advisor. We weren’t even in FFA yet.”
As she grew older and continued to develop the business, she recognizes that FFA has played a major role in her success.
“FFA helped develop the business aspect of this project,” Greenwald emphasizes. “It’s not just farming.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.