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Future Proof Your Business: Valuable Lessons for All from a Fourth-Generation Farming Enterprise

Carla Morris July 01 10 minutes reading time

Cummings Farms' mantra is as clear as the blue Iowa sky above its headquarters: "As the farming industry evolves, so too does our operation.”   

For more than 70 years, this fourth-generation family agribusiness has embraced change and leveraged “what’s new” to ensure the operation’s longevity. Look no further than its state-of-the-art shop in Malcom, Iowa, for proof.   

The Cummings team envisioned, planned, and built the workspace with decades of future productivity in mind. Your business may benefit from their approach.   

What’s Future-Proofing?  

Future-proofing a business means ensuring its success and sustainability in changing markets, technologies, and consumer needs. Future-proofing may involve:  

  • investing in digital technologies to improve customer experiences  
  • leveraging social media platforms to build your brand  
  • investing in employee training  
  • adapting to remote work trends  
  • diversifying revenue streams  
  • cultivating strategic partnerships  
  • investing in innovation  
  • developing succession plans that ensure smooth transitions in leadership roles.   

The Cummings team embraced future-proofing in their physical workspace and operations. From their experience, we can learn two vital lessons.   

Lesson 1: Don’t Rush the Vision    

Abe Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The Cummings team dedicated two years to “sharpening the axe” by assessing and envisioning future needs. Design alone took six months.   

The result? A 15,000 square foot Topline steel building with a soaring 22-foot ceiling. The shop features:   

  • Space to simultaneously accommodate work on multiple large implements—combines, sprayers, and planters.   
  • Space to house the operation’s semi-truck fleet on cold winter nights.   
  • Areas dedicated to specialized tasks like washing implements and changing tires.  
  • A roomy break area that features a full kitchen, a full bathroom, and a spacious TV viewing area.   

After the shop’s construction, Progressive Farmer magazine named it the technology winner in its Great Shops of America contest. It said the workspace not only facilitated maintenance on massive equipment like the day’s 24-row corn planter but would also accommodate work on larger, greater-capacity planters.    

Lesson 2: Tap Technology with a Reputation for Longevity  

The shop’s HVAC system uses geothermal technology that also boasts a reputation for longevity.   

Geothermal heat pumps—sometimes called ground source heat pumps (GSHPs)—extract heat stored in the Earth and use it to heat buildings during cold months. They reverse the process to cool buildings in the summer.  

A special room in the Cummings’ shop houses seven heat pumps that work in tandem with loops of pipe buried outside in the shop’s yard. The pipes carry a liquid that transfers heat energy from below the Earth’s surface to the shop’s workspaces.   

The Cummings team chose GeoComfort, a geothermal brand made in America by Enertech.    

GSHP systems save users far more energy and money than systems that rely on fossil fuels. They often pay for themselves in five to ten years.   

Regarding future-proofing, GSHPs allow businesses to avoid the pains associated with unpredictable price hikes in natural gas and fuel oil.   

What Your Future Holds  

The Cummings’ story speaks to resilience and proactive planning for long-term success in an ever-evolving marketplace. The Cummings family values self-reliance, state-of-the-art facilities, and complete control over processes.   

What does your business value? Now may be the perfect time to draw inspiration from this fourth-generation enterprise and start future-proofing your operation. 

Are you interested in geothermal heating for your home or business? We can help. Contact us below, and we will contact you promptly.  

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