Family, Farming and Business: The Iott Orchard and Ranch

Family, Farming and Business:

The Iott Orchard and Ranch

by Debbe Skutch

It was my pleasure to visit the Iott Orchard and Ranch in Petersburg, Michigan.Marilyn Iott took the time to give me a brief tour of the more than 90 acres of apple orchards and fields of tomatoes, cabbage and corn.I witnessed innovative farming techniques and traditional values of business, family and farming at work.The following is a conversation with Marilyn about the past, present and future of her family’s business.

Tell us about the history of your family and your business.

In 1960 my husband, Cork, and I moved from 7 miles south of here to begin our own family farm.Cork grew up on his family’s farm.We have five children, three boys and two girls.Kevin is 36 and is in the business, Kerry is 32 and also lives nearby and works here.Our youngest son, Kory is a senior in high school and plans on attending college and then entering the family business. We have two daughters, Kim, 33, a travel agency manager and Katrina, 27, who owns her own computer consulting firm.

All our children grew up on the farm and worked many hours from an early age to help it succeed.They have sacrificed much. The girls had no interest in staying on the farm and Kory’s contribution will be different than his brothers’ because of changes in generation and farming. More…

Family Focus: Autotec Succeeds In Several Transitions

Family Focus:
Autotec Succeeds In Several Transitions

by Debbe Skutch

Sometimes one transition is not enough.Autotec has recently been through several.With succession to the next generation came changes in culture, focus of the company, family dynamics, family location, and management style.As founder, John Schuster has sold his company to his son-in-law, Thomas Ballay.The company, the family, and the changes they have made to successfullyenhance each other tell an inspiring story.

In 1971, John had a vision, much courage and just a little luck. He left his position with an engineering firm to act on his entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to design his own machines.He had only his mechanical engineering degree, two drawing boards, a partner, and no capital to speak of. The company now manufactures machinery, mainly in the packaging industry, for customers all over the country. More…