Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 23 April 2017

'It's something I regret': Farmer on leaving school early to take over family farm

Stephen McCormack
Stephen McCormack

Stephen McCormack, managing director, McCormack farms

My father always planned for me to work on the family farm growing vegetables.

School wasn't really for me. I was more interested in sport and the social side, but I really should have been listening to the teachers and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. 

I always knew I was going to end up working on the farm, so I didn't really apply myself, and I decided to leave after my inter-cert. It's something I regret.

I feel if I had stayed in school I would have had more confidence in business situations in the early days.

I spent years learning the trade from my dad and it soon came time for me to take over the business. Like so many people taking over a family business I thought I knew better and could do it better which, of course, was very naive.

I didn't realise just how competitive the industry was. My father had always made it look so easy and had built great relationships over the years. At the beginning, I always took people at face value and trusted them.

I could be supplying restaurants with fresh salad leaves and vegetables for a couple of months, and when I went to get paid they wouldn't have the money.

This was an expensive mistake which, unfortunately, happened to me a couple of times but I learned to always do my homework on the businesses I was supplying and not to be so trusting.


You are only as good as your staff and they are the real secret to our success. I personally believe if staff are happy in their job they will go that extra mile for you.

I always tell our staff: "The packaging might say packed by McCormack Farms, but when you see our product on the shelves, be proud, as you helped produce it."

Thirty days is 30 days, never allow it to run to 60 or 90 days, as your customer will never catch up and your money will only become an interest-free loan.

When you run and manage your own business there is no switch off. Every day you learn something new, from either your own mistakes or from others.

The one trick I have learned is write everything down. You never know when that piece of information will be needed.


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