Realizing he would one day switch his role from chief executive officer of Moss Farms to retiree, Dan Moss sought advice from a financial planner 20 years ago.
The Idaho farmer not only needed an investment portfolio to provide retirement income for himself, but he wanted to offer an employer-matching 401K plan to his workers.
The farm’s 50 full-time summer workers grow potatoes, sugar beets, wheat and corn on 14,000 acres. The business’ potato packing plant in Rupert has 40 full-time year-round workers. Some 80 workers are hired during harvest.
“I wanted to offer some financial help to our employees for their retirement,” says Moss, 64.
He turned to a financial planner, Dee Darrington, an investment representative at D.L. Evans Bank in Burley.
“Dan was really progressive for offering a matching 401K plan to his employees, from managers to pipe movers,” says Darrington. “I think more farmers will start doing that in the future.”
He emphasizes that a retirement portfolio needs diversification.
“Safety through diversification is the key,” says Darrington, who helps clients pick from a combination of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities to provide retirement income.
Darrington says some farmers and ranchers tend to be land rich but cash poor when approaching retirement.
“They need to bank some of their annual profit and invest that to provide for their future,” he says. “A good portfolio can buffer farmers from fluctuating commodity prices.”
With an outside financial planner in place for long-term retirement, Moss realized he needed an in-house financial planner for day-to-day operations. Ten years ago, he hired Klade Williams as chief financial officer.
“You get to a point where you outgrow the kitchen table or home office for bookkeeping,” Moss says.
Williams oversees the company’s 401K plan, bank loan applications, accounting, human resources and new rules that will impact the business financially.
“You take all this information, even if it’s bad news, and present it to Dan and managers to help them make decisions,” says Williams. “It’s a balancing act to maintain a financially healthy business that can keep the family happy and employees happy.”
Moss says the 401K has been a good investment. The plan, along with paid time off and paid leave, has fostered employee loyalty. “A lot of people at our packing plant have been there 20 years or more.”
Workers at the plant, Arrowhead Potato Co., pack Idaho’s signature crop year-round for restaurants and food service companies Sysco and Markon.
As for his eventual retirement, Moss says he cannot envision himself being completely away from the business he started in 1980 when he farmed 160 acres near Declo.
His son, Ryan, 42, chief operations officer, will likely replace his father as CEO.
“I’ll always be involved with the farm somehow,” Moss says.