This past Memorial Day weekend, my family and I went camping and horseback riding with some friends here in the beautiful state of Oregon. A couple of these friends were Josh and Erica FitzGerald who are involved in running FitzGerald Farms LLC, a family business established in 1903 on the island of Maui and now located in Yamhill, Ore. Josh FitzGerald was a professional rodeo cowboy riding saddle bronc horses for more than 10 years which also led him to team roping professionally.
Josh and Erica spend the majority of their time providing equine care and encouraging community support, involvement and the enjoyment of horses and equine programs with others. They hold a summer horse camp for kids along with a riding program and started the non-profit Teens and Oregon Mustangs. I find their ability to organize youth camps and train horses (even wild Mustangs) quite fascinating, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to interview them and ask a few questions about running a successful business I hope you find valuable.
What do you find most rewarding about your business?
Josh: Being able to offer experiences to the youth that would not have the ability otherwise.
Erica: To provide a lifestyle for us to spend more quality time with our kids and be involved with our family.”
You are both very hard workers. What helps you maintain a strong work ethic, as well as develop and train others in this area?
Erica: The demand the animals put on us requires that we stay on task. We also have a youth mentorship program to help develop future animal trainers and leaders which we believe is imperative to upcoming generations.
Josh: We are very passionate about horses and enjoy sharing this with others, which motivates us to put in hard work which we certainly find rewarding.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
Erica: We want to create a youth retreat center where kids can come and work with the BLM to help increase horse adoption and also teach practical life skills and leadership.
What do you believe to be the best form of marketing and how do you implement that in your business?
Josh: Word of mouth is the primary source for developing business by relationships built over the years. We also get traffic and interest through our Web site (www.fitzfarms.com) for those searching for related services.
What important lessons have you learned over the years that you would share with other business owners?
Erica: Team up with other similar businesses and look at them as more than just competitors, but potential partners. We work to support each other’s strengths and understand our weaknesses, which allows us to exchange referrals to better help our customers and build friendships.
Josh: Really put emphasis on customer service to attract and develop relationships. I find this to be the most important factor for any business owner.
If you had to sum up in one word what it takes to run a successful business, what word would you choose and why?
Josh: Perseverance. By staying focused on the things that are important even when things get difficult as a business owner. You have to set goals and stick to your vision, keeping the business operational through any economic volatility.
I would like to thank Josh and Erica for sharing their feedback and it’s great to see people not only working hard, but doing so in an industry they love. While every business is unique, certainly hard work and dedication is the prerequisite to success.
Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.vantagemortgagegroup.com.