Doerfler Farms: Ag Star Award
By Jodi Kerr
Kent and Kevin Doerfler worked with their father, Bob, their whole lives, building Doerfler Farms to the large-scale grass seed farm it is today. When Bob suddenly passed away from prostrate cancer in October 2003, it was an emotional setback, but the business carried on strong as ever. The employees rose to the occasion, continuing their work and filling in the gaps. Kent and Kevin called on their sister, Amy, who had worked on the farm during summers growing up, but was living in Portland as a software consultant at the time. She immediately changed her life, accepting her new role as co-owner with her brothers.
The siblings have only received positive feedback from the updates that had been made under the third generation of Doerfler leadership. Kent has updated much of the equipment and Kevin has modernized the seed-cleaning and shipping operations. With Amy came a much-needed update of office technology and financial organization. All three of the Doerflers have their own roles but function as a unit.
They diligently work at keeping landowners and leases updated in a database so the information can be easily and accurately retrieved. They are quite proud that payments are made on time. If landowners have any concerns, they are encouraged to give them a call.
Employee satisfaction is constantly improving also. From the beginning, Kent, Kevin, and Amy knew that hardworking, productive employees were essential for the business. They also realized how important it is for these employees to be happy. They started by implementing a drug-free workplace policy and continued on from there. Now the benefit package includes: health, dental and vision insurance, retirement, paid vacation, long-term disability, life insurance, gym membership reimbursement and the occasional party and employee appreciation lunches.
All employees are a part of their monthly safety meetings where they can voice their opinions and observations. They were involved in two half-day seminars focusing on stress management, team building and communication skills.
Doerfler Farms is continuing the tradition of hiring high school and college students for the summer harvest and the owners enjoy seeing the same workers come back year after year. Doerflers understand that their 60 or so summer employees come for the money and good times, but it is their priority to constantly improve the safety and efficiency of these crews, going above and beyond the legal requirements. This year’s innovations include a Doerfler Farms scholarship incentive.