BY Eric Halverson

As we finish the 2016  production year at Black Gold Farms, we are in full planning mode for next year. If we are not careful we won’t give ourselves the time to stop and reflect on the last growing season.  Reflection can be a powerful tool, just the right amount of reflection allows us to learn from our experiences. We can look at what went right and what didn’t go as planned and modify our approach for the next season. Reflection should also allow us to think about what we accomplished and be proud of all the hard work we put in to do so. It allows us to think about all the relationships we have strengthened or built as we interact with old friends and develop new ones. This idea of reflection is not a new one for Black Gold Farms. As we have grown our chip potato business over the years we have always prided ourselves on using the tool of reflection to allow ourselves gratitude for what we do and humbly direct us to what we can improve.

Demands of the potato chip industry change every year. Mother nature changes every year. We prepare for the knowns and the unknowns every year.  Experience helps us with that. Understanding our customers’ needs, understanding the industry’s supply demand dynamics, planning on integrating new methods and technologies all help us to raise the bar year in and year out.

The Black Gold team is currently diligently working on deciding what varieties we should be planting, what we should expect out of those varieties. We are scouring over our quality scores from the previous year, looking at areas for improvement. As was noted earlier things will be thrown at us that we have minimal control over, this always happens. Our customers look to us to figure out ways to mitigate these things and do the best possible job given any situation. Consequently, we focus on solutions. We are looking at the service we provide to our customers, did our potatoes get to the plant when we said they would and did they meet the expectations of the customer? If not, we work to figure out why. What can we do differently? Sometimes we need to ask ourselves if the things that we are doing are providing value to our customers. Maybe things have changed and what once was a value is now just added cost.

The Black Gold team is also bringing to the forefront those individuals that went above and beyond the call of duty. We recently awarded the annual Horizon Award to those who deserve extra recognition. Tony Vigness from Grand Forks & Casey Sorg from Charleston, MO not only exemplify who Black Gold Farms is, but they understand what it takes and they make Black Gold Farms better.


We are talking about the teams that excelled and brought new ideas to the table. We are driven by the fact that some of the best recognition we can give is sharing these successes across the entire company. We are looking at those individuals who have taken steps forward in their development as professionals and are ready for increased responsibility and new challenges. We have a great team and it is important to use this time to align the team with our purpose. Challenging them and engaging them as much as possible.

Finally, as we reflect we realize we are not perfect and there are things we wish we could do over. We won’t dwell on them we will learn from them. We will feel good about the people we have surrounded ourselves with, we are proud of all the hard work they have put in. We are proud of what we have accomplished. Reflection allows us to be confident but humble and allows us to turn the page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!