The Center for Dairy Excellence recently hosted Train The Trainer, a two-day program titled Building the Bridge to Dairy Transition. Participants included employees from a number of different fields that wished to enhance their existing succession and transition facilitation skills. Attendees listened to six speakers covering topics such as family businesses, financial planning and insurance, dairy transition planning, legal considerations and accounting.

Mike McGrann, executive director of the S. Dale High Center for Family Business, started Day One by proposing the question, “What do you automatically think of when you hear the words, ‘family business’?”

Listeners replied with a variety of answers, such as comfort, unity, financials and farming. These responses created a solid base for the day’s discussion on the ins and outs of assisting a family business.

McGrann shaped a presentation out of six strategic points: performance, vision, strategy, governance, leadership, and relationship.

Engaged in conversation, attendants shared personal experiences dealing with families while receiving advice from fellow group members. Talking through scenarios allowed those partaking to gain an understanding on handling issues that they may encounter.


AgChoice Farm Credit representatives Rich Stup, director of business management services, and Mike Hosterman, agricultural business consultant, began Day Two by guiding attendees through achieving financial expectations of a dairy leader.

Discussion began with what AgChoice calls The 5 C’s of Credit: character, capital, repayment capacity, collateral, and conditions. Concentrating on those points allows one to assist a business in managing financials.

This presentation transitioned into a session led by speaker Mike Peachy, a partner with Acuity Advisors, a leader in the firm’s agricultural services.

Peachy discussed accounting and tax management strategies, contributing considerations advisors could take before offering guidance to a customer. The issues he covered required intent focus from facilitators, including preparing the junior generation, quality recordkeeping, efficient accounting and income management practices, and managing a diversity of taxes.


Mirroring the financial aspect, Thom Horn, manager of training for New York Life, introduced insurance options regarding asset assurance and protection.

He recognized the confusing aspects of insurance options, acknowledging that business owners are coping with a puzzling array of choices.

Moving away from the direct financial aspects of facilitation, Gary Heim, partner of Persun and Heim Attorneys at Law, covered the legal considerations for a dairy business transition.

At the end of the day, Train The Trainer was meant to enhance a facilitator's skills, allowing them to better the dairy industry. Or, as Mike McGrann put it, “It’s the grease that makes the wheels turn.”

Certificates were bestowed to participants, proving completion of the program. PD

TOP RIGHT: Mike McGrann presenting strategies on handling family businesses.

MIDDLE RIGHT: Train the Trainer presenters (L-R) : Gary Heim (Persun and Heim, P.C.), Mike McGrann (S. Dale High Center for Family Business), Mike Hosterman (AgChoice Farm Credit), Thom Horn (Lowell Frantz Associates), Rich Stup (AgChoice Farm Credit), John Frey (The Center for Dairy Excellence), Mike Peachey (Acuity Advisors and CPAS). Photos by Rebecca Shaw, courtesy of Center for Dairy Excellence.