Chippewa Valley Bean Vice President Charles Wachsmuth talks about the history of the family business, current markets, and what makes them unique in the world of kidney beans.
Located in Menomonie, WI, Chippewa Valley Bean is the world’s largest processor of kidney beans, exports to 35 countries worldwide, and has tripled in size over the last 12 years. They are two-time winners of the Governor’s Export Achievement Award.
JASON FISCHBACH 0:00
This is a podcast about new crops. You’re gonna love it. Join us on The Cutting Edge: A Podcast in Search of New Crops for Wisconsin.
Charles Wachsmuth 0:10
I’m very proud to say that every bean that comes onto our property has a market. We don’t have waste. So everything from that premium quality canning bean that goes to Japan or into certain markets in Europe, all the way down to the ugliest, most misshapen bean, we have a market.
Steffen Mirsky 0:49
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Cutting Edge: A Podcast in Search of New Crops for Wisconsin. My name is Steffen Mirsky, and I’m an Emerging Crops Outreach Specialist with UW-Madison Extension. My guest today is Charles Wachsmuth, Vice President of Chippewa Valley Bean, one of the largest producers of kidney beans in the world, based in Menominee, Wisconsin. We’ve been wanting to do an episode about Chippewa Valley Bean for a while now to learn more about how this family business broke the mold to grow this unique crop in Wisconsin, scale it up to where it is today, and what lessons this might provide other farmers or entrepreneurs looking to break into niche markets. So thanks for joining us, Charles. Can you start out by introducing yourself in a little bit more detail and telling us about your role at Chippewa Valley Bean?
Charles Wachsmuth 1:41
Yes, thank you very much, Steffen. My name is course is Charles Wachsmuth. And the I am the Vice President of Chippewa Valley Bean. Chippewa Valley Bean is the largest processor and exporter of kidney beans in the world. We’re based in Dunn County right outside of Menominee and we started growing kidney beans in 1969 and started processing in 1972. So my role is, I take part in both domestic and international sales and marketing, as well as leading all our efforts on sustainability and social responsibility. So I’m kind of the Swiss Army knife at the end of the company here. You know when we need to do something, I do it. My main markets for sales are Asia right now, like I said, I also do domestic so we deal with companies like Seneca, Lakeside, Bush Brothers. On the marketing side, you know, we’re not a consumer facing customer company. So we do things differently in that aspect. A lot of what we do is grower relations. We work with about 100 family farms across the upper tier of the Midwest, so predominantly Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota. And yeah, that’s what it is. So, you know, if I look at my marketing activities, and what they’re gonna be in 2023, we will have a decent sized presence at Farm Tech Days, we will be in the Chippewa Valley Children’s Museum, there’s the new agricultural center that’s going up in Plover, WI. And we are a sponsor of that. And we’ll have some displays there. So really, on our marketing side, it’s about the general push to eat a healthier food like kidney beans and to get growers more involved into bringing their product to us.
Steffen Mirsky 3:31
Great. So you’re, I believe you’re the third generation. Can you just talk about a little year your family history? And just the history of the company in general, how it how it got started, and who who it was in your family?
Charles Wachsmuth 3:50
Yeah, so to go way back in history, in 1858 the family came up from Sheboygan in a covered wagon. And they settled here in Dunn County. And over that time, we went basically from just doing being a self-sustaining operation. You know, you grew what you needed for the family and maybe had a little extra, extra leftover and expanded out. And so what happened is during my grandfather’s time, we’re talking the mid to late 60s, he was looking at Dunn County and said, we cannot compete with the corn and soybeans being raised in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. So what can we do up here to be a profitable farm? And one of the main changes at the time was center pivot irrigation had finally made its way up to us. And so you could take where we are in the Falls City prairie, which is mainly a sandy soil type. And the old joke was a gopher needed to pack a lunch to cross the prairie it was so dry. And with a replenishing aquifer, they dropped wells down and they were able to start irrigating this land, which it wouldn’t matter what you’re doing, all of a sudden, this land became so much more productive. But again, looking back and comparing what we could do with corn and soy with what they could do in the south, my grandfather started to look at other crops. And we were mainly a dairy operation at that point. So they experimented with things like cucumbers for pickling, and whatnot. And he started to travel out to Michigan, and New York, which were really where the kidney beans were grown at the time. And he said, you know what, I think we can do beans here. And so we started with kidney beans and navy beans and trying to work it through and eventually settled on kidney beans. Now a quick aside to that was at the same time, Condon Bush of the Bush family came up from Tennessee to Augusta, Wisconsin, and they had a failing fresh pea plant in Augusta. Condon was wondering what he could do with that plant can make it profitable, and bring value back to the Bush Brothers, right. And he started experimenting with canning edible beans. And so my grandfather and Condon Bush had this great working relationship. And so from 1969, when the Doane Family grew its first crop of kidney beans, and selling them directly to Bush. By 1972, our family thought that we would be better off cleaning the beans we planted and then marketing them. And so you talk about the long story in history, is over the 50 plus years since, we’ve done business with Bush Brothers every year. But since that time, we’ve moved from what I would call us being a grower-processor, mainly we were processing what we would grow into a food service company, we are truly a food safety focused business. And you noticed about 10-15 years ago, we made that move from being a farmer focused organization to being truly a food processor.
Steffen Mirsky 6:59
Yeah, and so you talked a little bit about the structure of the company today and the fact that you have over 100 growers in several different states around the Upper Midwest. Can you just expand on that a little bit and talk about what is the total acreage under production; what kind of volume of beans are you working with; and what services are you actually providing once once you get the beans into your location there?
Charles Wachsmuth 7:29
So you’re talking to me in a weird year right now about that? Traditionally, we would grow between 60 and 70,000 acres of kidney beans here in the United States. But, you know, marketing has been challenging because of a number of factors. And I’m gonna go a little bit off question here to talk about that. So during the former administration, there were the steel and aluminum tariffs on steel aluminum coming into the United States. And so other countries, of course, retaliated on that. So we saw our largest market being the European Union, levy a 25% tariff on animal beans going into Europe. And so that was a huge factor for us, you know, business, many buyers in Europe immediately looked for other supply areas wasn’t the whether that was Canada or Argentina or where. So we had that happening. Then COVID hit. Yep. And so during the beginning stretches of COVID, we saw consumer purchasing go way up, because everybody wanted a shelf stable nutritional food that they could put in the pantries. And they can keep, and that they could slowly rotate through their, their stock as we were locked down. You can go anywhere and shelves are empty and whatnot. So we saw that uptick through lockdown. And we saw that because people weren’t going out to eat. So they needed more food at home. So as soon as lockdown ended, everybody was going out to eat and we saw in home consumption drop. And so you know, because people didn’t know when lockdown was going to end all these canners had purchased and purchased and purchased, and they put away in the warehouses full and distribution centers were full. And people just weren’t buying as many beans, right. So all of a sudden, there’s been just a huge lull in our market. And so we had a crop reduction of about 30 to 40% last year. And we’re expected to see planted acres, you know, constrict once more this year. And I’m not exactly sure where that number is going to be. So that’s what we talked about, you know, we were on a growth pattern for the last 15 years. But now new supply chain issues and where things are and what’s going on has really constricted our markets. So it’s tough to me to say what, how many acres of kidney beans are going to be planted this year. We’re way off traditional patterns. You know, I can say with certainty that there have been changes in consumption. But we will go back to a growth pattern again, worldwide, people are looking for healthier foods. They want foods with a lower carbon impact. And you know, beans, peas and lentils and chickpeas, what are called the pulse crops really fall into that. So then they go back to your question a little bit more stuff. And what do we provide the growers? You know, kidney beans are different than commodity crops, there’s just not a lot of us compared to corn or soy or anything like that, or even taking kidney beans in comparison to navy beans, pinto beans or black beans are just a much larger crop. But we work with our growers closely to help them manage their crop in the field we provide we don’t provide we sell the seed that they can use to plant we have a team of agronomists that are usually in their fields on a bi-weekly basis to look at what crop improvement products they may need, things like that. And we’re there during the harvest. Because the kidney bean is interesting. You know, back in the days of salad bars, it was a salad bar bean and it was put on the salad bar, because it’s a big beautiful bean. It’s got that nice mahogany color. And it’s very pleasing to the eye. And so it’s a it’s a cosmetic crop. So if you look at it, when you open up that can of beans and you rinse them and you pour that out into your soup or your salad or whatnot, you just want to see that field of mahogany. You don’t want to see any necks or tears in that skin. And so the value of that crop is in a hole intact skin. So our harvesting process is much more intensive than anything else. So we have to treat these beans, especially gently during the harvest process. And so our agronomists are out there helping do that. We I think I answered your question there.
Steffen Mirsky 11:55
Yes, yeah. And so once once the crop comes in, what kind of services actually take place at your location before you can sell them to markets around the country and around the world?
Charles Wachsmuth 12:08
So we have an intensive cleaning process. And we use a large number of machines in this process. So everything from fanning mills, shaker screens, de-stoners are a big part of our process. Because the last thing you want is a stone to end up in a can of beans and somebody chews on it, you had a broken tooth, and you got recalls. Electric color sorters. And what we call a needle sorter or pin sorter. And so the whole thing is, is again, I go back to that skin integrity once it’s in the can. So our process is to remove inconsistencies, let me put it that way. So when you have a finished product, you want all the beans to be of a similar size, you want all the beans to be of a similar shape, and you want as many or as few damaged beans as possible. So that’s really what our process does. It is a cleaning and sorting process. Now, as I say that, I want to add an aside here is that I’m very proud to say that every bean that comes onto our property has a market. We don’t have waste. So everything from that premium quality canning bean that goes to Japan or into certain markets in Europe, all the way down to the ugliest, most mis-shapen bean, we have a market. You know whether it’s going into, like I said, the good canning product, at the far end below, it’ll get roasted into animal feed predominantly for cattle. If you take that cosmetically ugly bean and compare it to the good bean, it’s got the same nutritional profile. So it’s being blended and added to refried bean paste or in Asia would be confectionery paste that they use in desserts.
Steffen Mirsky 13:54
Well, let’s dive into your your markets a little bit more. So where are your beans going? And what percent of them go into domestic markets as opposed to export markets? And what kind of products are they ending up into?
Charles Wachsmuth 14:08
Yeah, so we export on average to about 30 countries every year. And we’re really around the world in that aspect. And in the Western Hemisphere, here we go into with our lightweight kidney, Panama and into Columbia, dark reds. Our largest market is Europe and the largest single country in Europe we shipped to is Italy but all over Western Europe, we go into the Middle East with like the United Arab Emirates, Oceania with Australia. And then we provide about 70% of the kidney beans used in Japan and we have an emerging market in South Korea, and I’ll be going to Thailand and Vietnam in April to examine markets there. But what you’re seeing our products do and go into is, really canning is our main business, the cooking and then canning of beans. The other thing is we go into, like I said, a refried bean paste or confectionery products. So that’s what we do. We export about 70% of what we bring on site. The domestic market is growing, it’s stable. It’s a mature market, but the vast majority of what we do goes internationally. Okay, let me jump in here for a second and talk about why certain countries are canning beans. So think about the equipment it takes, this canning equipment, you’re cooking the product, you’re taking it up to a high heat, you’re stabilizing it, you’re making it food safe, and then you’re canning it. And so you’re looking at anybody that’s doing fresh vegetables, those people are also canning beans, except in the small cases, you don’t find many people that are just doing beans, right. And so that’s how, you know Lakeside got into it. That’s how Seneca got into it in Wisconsin is because those are all fresh produce plants. And so you say why do the Italians can the most kidney beans in the world? The Italians don’t eat kidney beans? Well, the Italians, what do they have? They have tomatoes and they have tomato paste. And you’re only canning tomatoes and tomato pays for about three months out of the year. So how do you utilize that equipment the other nine months. And they’re doing beans, and they’re doing a lot of other things. But it’s about making that equipment work year round. You need those people employed year round. And that’s why Italy is the market it is for us.
Steffen Mirsky 16:39
That makes sense. So you talked about some of the tariffs that went into place a few years ago and how that affected your business, especially your export markets. Have have those been lifted? How have those export markets changed in the last few years?
Charles Wachsmuth 17:02
Well, what we’re seeing is that the retaliatory tariffs and the steel aluminum tariffs to the EU have been put on hold. And I believe they need to be renegotiated again in December of 2024. And we need to see those removed. The long term implications of that was it allowed Argentina to become a competitor. You know, for longest time Argentina was a small market, they were a small exporter when it came to kidney beans. And that 25% tariff allowed them to come in and eat our lunch. And so now we will spend the next five or more years clawing back that market share. We saw these tariffs and you know, the issues with China are many and varied. But there was also tariffs put on in China. And that had the potential to be a huge export market. We were just starting to make ground there. And you know, the tariff situation there really shut us down. So you know, I’ll say this not only for kidney beans, but for agriculture, free and fair trade for United States agriculture always wins. And you look at any free trade agreement, whether it’s bilateral, whether it’s you know, multi-nation, that the United States signs, it is always good for the American producer. It didn’t matter if it was the TPP back during the Obama administration or the bilateral agreement signed with Korea, US agriculture wins in trade agreements. Normalized trade is just something that benefits us. We’re seeing other challenges in the likes of shipping. Both domestic shipping and international shipping. I may go a little off topic with this one. But the you know, I talked about the steel aluminum tariffs and the retaliation there as being a lethal threat to our company. We survived that. The next threat came up on not being able to ship. We couldn’t get containers. We couldn’t get things happening. And you know, everybody always thinks of, you know, during COVID the line of ships outside the port of Los Angeles. And you know, there were just miles out to sea the ships that couldn’t come in. But we here in the Midwest, we didn’t have equipment coming in, and we still struggle to get equipment here. And, you know, we’re fighting against that. If anybody in Wisconsin saw the news, we were the first containerized agricultural shipment out of Duluth in over 20 years. We privately leased over 200 containers. We leased the boat to take them out the St. Lawrence Seaway in the Great Lakes. And you know, we continually are working on better ways to move up product. Like I said, 70% of what we do is exports. And if we can’t export, then we’re not a business. And the joke around our office is we are quickly becoming a logistics company that sells beans.
Steffen Mirsky 20:15
Yeah, so you talked about how free and fair trade is so important to your business? I’m curious, in what ways do you advocate for those things.
Charles Wachsmuth 20:26
Um, we are members of a lot of our national groups and international groups. So I’m the vice chair of the American Pulse Association. And again, I mentioned it earlier, but a pulse is a pea, bean, lentil, chickpea, is the dried seed of the Legume family, different than soybeans. But, you know, we’re all nitrogen fixing as part of legumes. With that, we in the past worked very closely with the United States Dry Bean Council. I was just in Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago, as part of the APA, flying to go meet with our representatives, and you know, to talk about the farm bill and trade and things like that. We signed on to letters that can be come along. So I would suggest anybody that wants to get involved with exporting or whatnot, you need to be aware of what’s happening. You need to be reading what news you can, you need to be following, you know, what the administration, what Congress wants, and, you know, who can you talk to? Or what letter can you write where, to, you know, try and put a little bit of a thumb on the scale to make sure you’re seeing what you’re seeing? You know, we talked a couple weeks back, Steffen, about how Chippewa Valley Bean got into international marketing. And I said, you know, I mentioned the importance of groups like DATCP and Midwest Food Exporters, and, you know, market access programs and FMD funds coming from the federal government, and how it doesn’t matter your size or what you’re doing. There’s a way for specialty crop growers to leverage these funds to get help, and export markets. And so one of the things we were doing in DC is we’re lobbying for an increase for these market access programs and FMD funds, foreign market development, I believe it is, and going that way. And, you know, it feels to me, and I could be wrong, but every agricultural crop in the United States has a state or national group you can join, or you can get information from, that should be working to your benefit should be an advocate for you on the ground as a grower or processor. But yeah, again, I can’t speak highly enough of DATCP or the state of Wisconsin. They were really instrumental in helping us become an exporter.
Steffen Mirsky 22:50
Yeah, I definitely wanted to spend some time talking about that. Just how your business was able to break into this unique crop in Wisconsin and find the market and scale up, you know, to where you are today. And if you have any advice, you know, for other farmers, entrepreneurs looking to do a similar thing with some of these niche crops. I think that would be a really important lesson that, you know, Chippewa Valley Bean could provide.
Charles Wachsmuth 23:21
Yeah, let me circle back to the last comments I just made. Secretary Romanski and his team are going places. They’re attending shows, they’re doing things, they’re providing information on what’s going on. Right now, the UK is a big push through that. You know, I didn’t mention it before, I’m actually the chair of the Wisconsin Export Council right now, where the governor has tasked us to find ways to increase exports, agricultural exports from the state of Wisconsin. And so if you look at DATCP and the reach that they have, and to overseas markets, you know, reach out to them – Lisa Stout and Mark at DATCP, they they know people, and, they in fact, if they don’t know exactly what’s going on, they’re gonna know people they can direct you to talk to. The WEDC has team has offices around the world, they have leaders here based in Wisconsin, that can that can move you into different ways. They’re running trips, they’re having reverse trade missions, you know, go to their website, figure out what it is, in fact, that’s how I’m going to Thailand and Vietnam in April, as part of the WEDC trip. You have, you know, regional groups, like I mentioned earlier Midwest Food Exporters. And that goes back to those market access programs. They get they get their funding from market access programs. And that money will allow you to attend trade shows that will allow you to develop brochures and websites and, you know, ship samples, you can get in on their branded program. They have constant webinars, they have reverse trade missions where they have reverse trade missions. There’s a lot of tools out there. But it’s up to you. It’s up to us as processors and exporters and people that want to get into exports to go find them. They’re there, they’re there, you know, you just got to go looking. And there’s a lot of low hanging fruit that you can do, you know. We’ve been exporting now really, since about the mid-80s is when our current president Cindy Brown made her first trip to the UK. And we’ve grown since that point, like I said, it was through the help DATCP and our national group, the US Dry Bean Council, you know, your national organization, your state organization may be at food tradeshow they may be at whether you’re doing hops or what they may be at a brewery show somewhere that you can get into. You know, there’s so much going on, you just got to go find it. So I’m gonna make a big plug: DATCP, WEDC, Midwest Food Exporters. Start there. And you’ll find some stuff. And you may not get everything paid for. But it’ll be matching. Like if you get $10,000 in grants, you may have to match it anywhere up to $10,000. But you just doubled your spend, you know, things like that. It’s just, you know, a force multiplier behind what your marketing and sales team can do.
Steffen Mirsky 26:44
Yeah, that’s really good advice. A little change in topic. So how does Chippewa Valley been distinguish itself from other kidney bean producers around the world? I mean, I know just from looking at your website, you know, how much pride you take in the quality of your beans and kind of the story of your company? How much of a factor do those play in the markets that you can access? And is sustainability another thing that’s an important thing that makes your company unique in the world of kidney beans?
Charles Wachsmuth 27:20
Yeah. So there’s, there’s a few things that I can point to immediately, one is our quality, we actively try to be the highest quality in the world. And you know, other people can come through and buy the same equipment. But, you know, it’s just what can we do there to just make sure we don’t make mistakes. The other thing we can do is relationship management. You know, how often are you talking to your buyers? What are the techniques there? I mean, you don’t want to be a pest, but, you know, take notes, you know, what are their kids currently doing in sports? Where did they go on vacation last? Being active and interested partner with your buyers? You know, talk to them, notes here and there, following up on personal issues. Relationship management is a huge thing and how we can separate ourselves and make ourselves different? One thing that’s really separated us is, so oftentimes in agriculture, especially in agriculture, and food processing, most people are pretty conservative. They don’t like change, right? It’s just the nature of the game. But if something comes up, figure out what’s going on, and how do you embrace it? So we’ve always been on the forefront of food safety. We’ve always looked at how do we adapt to changes we see coming at us, so that way, we can better prepare ourselves for that change versus being forced to make that change. You know, a big big thing there is glyphosate. We see it used as burned down at harvest to desiccate the beans and get them ready. Well, the market in Europe doesn’t like glyphosate. ALDI will not accept products with glyphosate on them. So we did a gentle slow push to say guys, these are the restrictions and I had growers say I can’t grow kidney beans if I don’t use glyphosate. And we unfortunately had to say well if you can’t do it, you need to go find somebody else to sell your beans to, but that put us ahead of our competitors that way. You know you brought up sustainability. And our traceability aspect here is is pretty intense. We do a visit every spring. We visit every one of our growers at their facility and we say these are the crop improvement products you can use this year. These are the labels you have to follow. Please sign this paperwork. And when it comes time for them to deliver those beans, they need to bring their spray records with them, we will not unload a load of beans without their sprayer records. And those all go into a file and we do testing every year. Sustainability, we’ve done a scope one and scope two internal carbon audit. And I’m hoping that we can do a full third party audit in 2024 or 2025. Also on that aspect we produce, you know, the United Nations have come up with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN SDGs. And like seven years ago, I started producing the first report by any edible bean house in North America on that. Go through and do it that way. And what that required was my time, you know, and it’s all about, sustainability is all about measurable goals. You don’t have to eat the elephant all at once. You eat it in bite size pieces, right? So, you know, the first year we had two electric forklifts and our warehouse. So what do we do to increase our fleet of electric vehicles? Whether they’re in the warehouse or whether they’re road vehicles? And just every year? You take that manageable bit? You know, how can we reduce our refuse our garbage every year? What can we do on the facility to recycle more? And it’s not just a matter of saying you’re doing it, you need to show again, show those measurable steps. How often does garbage pickup come? Can we make that three times a month instead of four times a month. And then a lot of this is a pain, it’s an abundance of paperwork, being able to show the auditors when they come in what you’re doing. The other thing I’m very proud of is we set we’re the only edible bean house in the United States to have set up for an ethical supply chain audit. And now this is from a company in the UK company organization called Sedex. Supplier ethical data exchange, I believe is the acronym. And you do a self audit on their website, and your customers can go look at your self-audits. You do that first, and then you sit down for your SMETA audit. And we’ve done that. And so in the SMETA audit is really it’s about paperwork – are your employees being paid a fair wage? Is your plant safe? What is your impact in your community; it’s safety, employee, ethics and environmental are really the four topics you need to do. So then going back to everything we do to make ourselves stand out. In most cases, does this bring us any more money for our beans? Unfortunately, not. But what it does do is it makes us the supplier of choice. People say hey, we need kidney beans, Chippewa Valley bean does all this stuff. So they come to us first. And that’s how you protect your market.
Steffen Mirsky 33:13
I think I saw on your website that you became certified organic a few years ago.
Charles Wachsmuth 33:19
We did. You know, we only originate and source dark red and light red kidney beans, right? That’s our bread and butter. That’s what we do. But we were looking to be a total basket for our customers. So could we do white kidney beans? Can we do organic dark reds? Can we have great partnership to source navy beans. And so we were organic, and we went down that path. And we actually got out of the organic space last year. We’re a conventional bean house. It’s what we do. It’s it’s how we function. And we found that as organic margins were getting squeezed and squeezed and squeezed, that it wasn’t a competitive space for us. We had to shut down and clean our mills, we had to separate everything in the bins and then in the warehouse and it was it was this big thing to really satisfy like to customer’s needs. And so our ability to compete in that area, versus an edible bean house that is just doing organics was not there. We needed so much more money because we are truly a conventional place that we could not generate the margin on those organic beans. And so we stepped away from that space. You know, as we move forward and look at expansion and adding a second line. That’s something we’re definitely still considering it’s on the table, but with our current configuration and everything else. We you know, we were sad to get out of it but we needed to get out of it. It just wasn’t a smart move for us to be there anymore. You know, there’s an economic term for this – the sunk cost fallacy. Just because you’re doing it and you’ve been doing it doesn’t mean you should continue to do it. Right? You need to look at the whole picture and say, Is this a profitable space for our business? And it just wasn’t, so we got out.
Steffen Mirsky 35:29
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Charles Wachsmuth 35:29
Let me qualify that, and absolutely nothing against organics at all just wasn’t our space.
Steffen Mirsky 35:39
Yeah. The other thing is that it really seems that, you know, all these things that your company is doing to, you know, in terms of ethical supply chains, and sustainability, and relationship management and quality of your beans is recognized. And you’ve been awarded the governor’s export award once or maybe twice?
Charles Wachsmuth 36:03
Twice, actually twice, I think it was back in the 90s. We achieved it first. And then, over the life of me, I can’t remember the second time. Scott Walker was governor at a time, and that’s when, you know, we got it when we first entered the space, and we were making our small waves and doing that. And the second time it was after we’d really kind of blown up into that space, and became more the company we are today that we got that. We’re very proud of both of those. You know, it takes work, takes some creativity and some hard work.
Steffen Mirsky 36:41
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s quite an achievement. So as we wrap up here, I just wanted to ask one final question. And that is, what does the future look like for Chippewa Valley Bean, you know, the next few years? Where do you see opportunities and challenges?
Charles Wachsmuth 37:01
You know, the first thing we need to do is get our supply chain issues figured out. And we’re working on that. It’s how do we ship out of the Great Lakes? How do we find other rail avenues? Do we continue to lease our own private containers? You know, the first challenge is figuring out what to do on logistics. And once we get that figured out, we’ll be back on a growth path. And, you know, I’m third generation in the company, we’ve been doing this over 50 years, and I tell people, we’re going to do it at least another 50 years. So, you know, we’re going to be, we’re going to be the first carbon neutral bean available in North America, you know, probably the world. We’re going to put in a second line, and we’re going to handle things besides kidney beans, we’ll be in the navy bean space, or maybe some other beans. We’re going to, we’re going to grow and we’re going to look at it and we’re going to be innovators and do new things. And we’re going to be there as markets grow. Right now, we’re multiple steps ahead of our competition and sustainability, and we’re gonna stay there, because as more and more consumers want and start to demand these things, that’s where you have to be. And one of our internal philosophies is it’s better to be at the forefront of change than to be scrambling and being forced into making those changes. So, how do we work with our grower base to reflect that? You know, like I said, traditionally, agriculture is a pretty conservative space. So how do we gently bring along our partners to adapt to all this?
Steffen Mirsky 38:43
Well, I think that’s a great way to end. Thank you so much, Charles, for making the time to join me today. It’s a really inspiring story. And I think, I think Wisconsin is proud to have the have Chippewa Valley Bean as a business in the state. And so I’m looking forward to seeing where the company goes, and I just wish you and your family the best of luck.
Charles Wachsmuth 39:09
Thank you very much, I appreciate the opportunity to share our story today.
JASON FISCHBACH 39:20
Brought to you by the University of Wisconsin Madison, Division of Extension.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai