Succession plan spurs farm growth

Highlights

  • Carlee and Justin Leliuk took over the family farm
  • Family created a formal succession strategy with a farm advisor
  • Writing down goals helped family plan for future success

Make a succession plan and follow it. It’s a simple concept, but one that can help your farm business succeed. Carlee and Justin Leliuk are doing just that. They’re taking over the family farm near Mundare, Alta. from Carlee’s parents, Ken and Wendy Motiuk.

In good hands

Carlee, the second oldest of four daughters is the one most attached to farm life. Justin grew up on a 3,700-acre grain and cattle farm. He started out helping Ken part-time until he and Carlee made the move to the farm from Edmonton two years ago.

When it came to deciding where they might raise their family, returning to the farm was a natural choice. Justin was an appealing succession candidate for Ken and Wendy: he really wanted to farm, had a good work ethic and came from a farm background.

During the process, family members identified their goals and created a plan that satisfied everyone’s needs. They all believe in treating the farm like a business.

Making a succession plan

The entire family went through a formal succession plan. Earl Smith, their farm advisor, met with each family member separately. “Once we had the plan drawn up, we all went to a neutral location and read through it,” Carlee says.

During the process, family members identified their goals and created a plan that satisfied everyone’s needs. They all believe in treating the farm like a business, and holding meetings to resolve conflicts. Today, the families operate the farm as one unit under the name “Ceres Enterprises,” but all have separate holdings within the operation.

A vision for success

The level of growth has been remarkable. Carlee and Justin hit their five-year goals in just two-and-a-half years. Now they’re re-evaluating and setting new goals.

Thanks to the business and personal relationships Ken cultivated for more than 30 years, Carlee and Justin have been able to buy land around their home quarter.

“Our vision was to grow,” Carlee says of the purchase, and of adding family friend Tyson Ezio to the operation. “We didn’t want just an employee. We wanted someone who was going to be more of a partner.”

Tyson was an ideal fit for the Leliuks, as he’d been helping out part-time on the farm for many years, working closely with the family. He rents a quarter-section of land within the farm unit, and in return, having a partner in the farm frees up Carlee to work outside the farm as a residential appraiser.

A plan that works

As the growth continues, Carlee and Justin are starting to buy equipment in their names, and Ken and Wendy are accepting a smaller share of the business. “Our land base will be owned by our daughters and the dividends will go four ways. But Carlee and Justin have voting control over the operation of the land so no one from the outside can come in and tell them how to farm,” Ken explains.

It’s all in the succession plan they developed together – farming and non-farming family members alike – and the Motiuks’ wills are written to protect the operation as well.

By having a written plan, the family can be confident about the farm’s future.

From an AgriSuccess article (July/August 2012) by Alexis Kienlen