Do you see what I see?
No, that caption wasn't my attempt to be the first one to sing a Christmas carol this year. My trip to the grand opening of Seed Hawk's expanded production facility earlier this month made me think about those words. It became clear to me that owners of the many prairie-based implement manufacturers, like Seed Hawk and all the others, must have had a real ability to look beyond potential problems and see opportunities when they started out.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, a few producers across the prairie were busily building better implements in their farm workshops, because they couldn't buy the kind of seeding and tillage tools that met their needs. That isn't to say there weren't already many options available to them. It's just that production practices were evolving and the kinds of implements offered by the major manufacturers weren't keeping up. Some producers turned their implement-building activities into extremely successful commercial ventures. The names of their companies are now known around the world.
Today, those farmers-turned-manufacturers are responsible for well over $800 million in economic activity in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, according to statistics from Manitoba Trade and Investment.
I suspect most of those who now operate businesses that manufacture implements or supply components into a global market met with more than their share of naysayers when they started out. It seems the number of people who are more than willing to point out why something new won't or can't work greatly outnumber those who see why it can.
I encountered that problem recently on a much smaller scale. I contacted a public institution to discuss creating a how-to article series. Everyone I spoke to thought the project was a great idea; and it really met the objectives of the institution, which was to pass on knowledge. But when word of the project made its way up the chain of command there for official approval, one person in senior management saw only potential problems.
When that manager and I discussed the possible pitfalls and I explained how we could easily deal with them, I sensed it didn't matter that the problems weren't insurmountable. She only saw why things couldn't happen. She didn't see what I saw.
Had the owners of the dozens of agricultural-product manufacturers in western Canada shared that “You-can't-because...” attitude, the economic landscape of the the three prairie provinces would be very different than it is now. Would we be weathering the economic downturn as well as we are had these individuals not pursued their visions? I don't think so. The continued strength of sales of agricultural machinery has been one of the powerful economic drivers in today's regional economy.
When you look toward the future in your farming operations, what do you see? Do you have a vision? Do the problems look bigger than the opportunities? I'm not suggesting you put on rose-coloured glasses when you look to the future, but how successful your operation will become depends in large part on the answers to those questions.
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