CONNERSVILLE, Ind. — Brad and Patti Starr of Starr Farms are looking for a successor for their cash grain operation in eastern Indiana.

“I’ll be 59 years old this summer — we’ve been on the search for a successor for four years, and it has turned out to be a lot more difficult than we expected,” Brad said. “There are a number of individuals out there in a similar situation.”

He said the person the farm is looking for must have certain management skills, knowledge of finance, desire and understanding.

“They’ll need a pretty fair understanding of finance to do the budgets and handle the type of accounting we administer here,” he said. “They’ll need successful people skills to meet with all the different vendors, landlords and everyone who is a customer or potential customer.”

“They also need the skill to help guide and direct the other members of the staff and team in a positive manner to help us be profitable, and it’s not going to be a short-term thing,” he noted.

If Starr’s job description doesn’t sound like a typical farm job, it’s because folks still are of the mindset that agricultural jobs take place only in the field, he stressed.

“We’ve had several candidates be really excellent people, but they believe and understand farm operator jobs today still are only about driving tractors and being outside without having a grasp or understanding of the time and commitment that is needed to get everything done in the office,” he said.

Most of Starr’s time running the family operation is spent in the office, and he is looking for someone who could work with staff and be involved with planting and harvest and allow them to switch roles inside and outside of the operation efficiently.

The Starrs have contracted with Lori Lennard of Lennard Ag Co. to help them with their search, and Starr said she was helping them screen and set up interviews for a number of candidates.

He added that while he prefers that an applicant has a farm background, knowledge of agronomy also is desired.

“Agronomics are one of my weaker areas, and I feel like it could help a great deal with us to find someone with strong knowledge in that area,” he said. “They’re also going to need to have a knack for numbers and the capacity to learn and understand very quickly so they can contribute to the success of this operation.”

Starr said he hopes the new employee will be a good fit for the company and eventually will become an owner in the operation.

As the Starrs expand their business, they will begin transitioning more ownership to an outside entity — a model that many landowners and farmers follow. While the Starrs are optimistic about finding their match, they know they are involved in a long process.

“Our farm has been in business for 36 years, though the farm itself is more than 100 years old,” Starr said. “My wife and I started on shares when we returned to the farm with my parents, and my dad was brave enough to try to make it succeed.”

“That’s one of the driving forces of finding a successor — presenting the opportunity to another individual to pick up from the progress we’ve made and continue on,” he said. “At this point, we’d like to give another individual the opportunity to fulfill their life dream and become a part of our farm.”