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
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.
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.