LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE AT BROETJE ORCHARDS
In summer 2009 the author had a privilege to participate in International Summer Leadership Program in the USA. She visited different companies and met interesting people in those companies who changed her imagination about leading a business and about Leadership in general.
One of the companies that impressed her more than others was Broetje Orchards. It is a 4,000 acre orchard operation located near Prescott, Washington, that was established by Cheryl Broetje and her husband Ralph. Broetje Orchards’ apples are marketed worldwide to stores under the FirstFruits of Washington label. Broetje Orchards is committed to a “servant leadership” model to guide its activities. It means that their business goals are not separated from their spiritual values which promote the equality and connectedness of all people, using their unique gifts and skills to serve one another while together serving the common good. Broetje Orchards is committed to caring for those who work in their business and for those in need around the world.
In their business, those who are most often left out are Hispanic farm workers and their families. As first and second generation immigrants, many had little or no formal education. But they had a dream in their hearts, and a desire to serve. They just needed an empowering team around them. So, Broetje family decided to help those Hispanic families. They started with their felt needs for decent, affordable housing, and child-care facilities that would prepare their children to start kindergarten in the U.S. and be on par with Anglo children in language and social skills. Cheryl and Ralph also looked around for who was ready to grow. They have become their pre-school staff, housing managers, and social service workers in addition to becoming agribusiness managers on a world-class level. Along the way, Broetje family has implemented continuing-education goals for these people according to their stated needs. Over the years, they have become a training ground for emerging Hispanic leaders, many of whom go on to become first time home owners, and eventually take their place of leadership within more traditional institutions serving their communities.
In other words, their Leadership Philosophy is to incorporate “Servant Leadership” as a management style in all aspects of their operations. The main motive in achieving profits is to serve families and communities in need, both at home and abroad. Employees are their FIRST priority. Their participation in leadership classes, committees, boards of directors and other opportunities not only broadens their ability to take ownership of their vision, but expands the impact they have on others in profound and immeasurable ways.
The author is very thankful for such a great opportunity to visit the unique company like First Fruits of Washington. She would like to say “thank you” to all the people who created the International Summer Leadership Program, especially to Daniel Ballast and Marshall Christensen.