Behind the LICA creed: “All wealth is generated by the land”
- Bob Clark of Clark Farm Drainage and National Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA)
Jamie and Kent talk with Bob Clark of Clark Farm Drainage and President of National Land Improvement Contractors of America (LICA). In this episode, Bob shares what led him to LICA and the value he sees in learning from a community of like-minded individuals.
Episode 9 | 44:12 min
Bob Clark is born and raised in Indiana and the oldest of five children. Clark’s father started Clark Farm Drainage in 1979. Bob Clark met and married his wife while he was serving in the army in South Carolina. After he graduated, Clark consulted his father on Clark Farm Drainage and how the business was going. From that conversation, Clark decided the best move was to return to the family business and work to grow.
This is the water table.
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Matt Helmers 0:12
water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.
How missunderstood understood what we do is.
I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.
Bob Clark 0:30
Welcome to the water table podcast. Today is an exciting day. We got a couple of great guests again with me today. I have Kent Roedelius from Prinsco, and we have Bob Clark from Clark Farm Drainage. Kent, would you like to introduce Mr. Clark?
Absolutely. Bob and I go back quite a few years, I met Bob at some conventions. And we’ve gotten to know each other. And I thought that Bob would be a great subject for us to talk to today, specifically about a couple of things. Number one would be the land improvement contractors of America. And that’s, we call it LICA. That’s the group of tilers across the United States that get together and do land improvement projects. So that’s where Bob and I met. And Bob is also heavily involved in water quality issues. He’s on the ADMC board, the agricultural drainage management coalition. He’s on that board as a representative and Bob and I’ve gotten to know each other, and a lot of meetings and had a lot of great conversations. So we look forward to what will unfold here today. Bob is from Newcastle, Indiana. That’s where he makes his home. And currently, Bob is the chairman of the board for the National Land Improvement Contractors of America. And he’s gotten a lot of credibility, but I thought we’d kick it off today. Bob, just tell us a little bit about how you got your start in your business and what your roots are and what you guys do at Clark Farm Drainage.
Bob Clark 2:02
Okay, well. Thank you, Kent and Jamie for having me on today. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about water quality and share LICA’s a story. You know, I’m born and raised in Indiana. I’m the oldest of five children. My dad started the business originally he was a soul conservation he was in soul conservation service, quit the job with five kids and started this Clark farm drainage in 1979. He was in the army spent three years at Fort Bragg North Carolina and airborne unit. I was after I got out of the army went back to school. I got the GI Bill was living in South Carolina at the time married a girl from South Carolina and worked for General Electric they’ve got a big gas turbine plant down there where they make these turbines for power generation. But I graduated and I thought I’d circle back with my dad 1991 and kind of check in with him on the on the business that he started in 79. And after having a conversation with him, I decided maybe my best move and I kind of like the entrepreneurial aspects of your small business. So I decided to quit that job General Electric and come back and kind of open up another or a second crew or you know, a second team at Clark farm drainage.
Is your dad Bob Clark the first?
Bob Clark 3:29
Yeah, he’s Bob Clark senior. I thought that was Bob Clark Jr. Until I joined the army and my mom and dad misnamed me and they got the birth certificate. I was Bob Clark the second. So I go by a lot of names, but you know, I didn’t really realize it till I was 18 years old. I was actually the second.
Sure and now, as I will know you have got a bob Clark the third you better son that’s joined you in the business?
Bob Clark 3:53
Yes, I have a son and a daughter are both married. They both live in Newcastle. My daughter lives up the street three kids, in her husband’s a doctor. And Bob lives just on the north side of town and he’s got these married two boys and his wife is also a doctor.
It’s great to have a family business. That’s really the one of the stalwarts of the of the US is strong family businesses. So appreciate that. Bob, What do you guys spend most of your time doing the contracting Bob? Are you fairly diversified or?
Bob Clark 4:27
Well, you don’t can’t We’re a full service ag water management company. We do pattern tile projects. We you know, if we’ve got some interest in that we’ve got the right the right dusts, if the site’s right, we might even do some sub irrigation with waterways. Open ditches will clean open ditches out will we also do ponds. But clear some woods occasionally. But most you know, the pattern tile in an Indian is kind of cyclical because there’s not a lot of wheat in the summertime. So we have to kind of you know part of that Challenge is kind of taking that cyclicality out of our work schedule and trying to keep busy in the summer.
Absolutely. That’s one of the challenges of living in the upper Midwest. Let’s talk a little bit about land improvement contractors of America. And what what’s important about that to you, what would you say is the main reason you’re involved in land improvement contractor’s of America,
Bob Clark 5:22
I did some work on a farm in a field and i i nicked the pipeline. And about we were done with the project, it didn’t know it, about two weeks later, this thing ruptured. And it caused quite a commotion in my little town. And as part of the solution to this situation I found myself in, I agreed to join Leica and as a way to share awareness, the safety awareness, you know, about these buried pipelines and the dangers they pose to two contractors. So I, I kind of got into it as a solution to an issue, but you know, how things are sometimes you, you know, the unintended consequences, I ended up getting a lot more out of it than I ever thought I would. And I really, kind of, I’m very fortunate to be able to share the story. And, you know, fortuitously get involved with such a, what I consider a really good organization.
It’s a great story, Bob, and it’s amazing, some of those things just happened to us. And for good reason.
Interesting that you, you bring that up, I did, I was not aware of that, like you said, You’ve never thought I probably wasn’t I was not aware of that. But, you know, as we as we have listeners, and some of them do wonder what like a is and a lot of people that will be listening will already know. Either they’re a member of like our will know about it, but there’s much more to like other than just what meets the eye for them, you know, a lot of times it might be well, it’s a place that I can share information or gather information from fellow competitors outside of my region. But there also is the safety aspect. And as we, as we, you know, go on and on our business over time, there’s some really significant issues that happen out in rural in the rural landscape as we’re doing jobs, that could be really serious safety incidences, so happy to hear that you felt like like it was a place where you could learn on the safety side, too. And this podcast will will probably be bringing some, some aspects of that, in that as we go along here in the future.
Bob Clark 7:29
Good, good. Yeah, I think, you know, a thing for a small contractor. You know, if you’re in a bigger like a state chapter, you know, that there’s somebody there that can organize the day where you can do, you know, whether it’s OSHA, trench safety, or 10 hour or first aid or CPR, you know, I think those things, God forbid, you ever need them. But you know, if somebody should need CPR, I would feel very disappointed if I had the opportunity to take the class and never did it. So it’s just, it’s just trying to keep it’s just trying to keep us all sharp, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.
So what else would you say would, if a fellow contractor came to you, Bob, or somebody you knew was getting into business and you ran into them? And they said, Well, what, what? What really is LICA? What is that all about? Why should I join?
Bob Clark 8:21
Well, you know, I would say to a young contractor who asked me that question, I’d say, you know, you work out in the field all by yourself, most of the time, you know, you join, LICA you’re going to find a network of other contractors or associates that have, you know, information and knowledge that might take you a very long time to acquire, but if you would just, you know, join and come with an open ear, you could probably listen to learn quite a bit from your state chapter.
Good answer. Good answer. And how far to this to the state offices go across America, Bob?
Bob Clark 9:03
You know, that’s a great question, Kent. I think there’s probably about 20, more or less state chapters with executive directors. We have a lot of memberships a lot of members at large and states that don’t have an active state chapter. They’re still involved, they still get the publications, they stay informed. They can go to any of the events, whether it’s a state chapter event or a national meeting, but I think there’s, and most of its concentrated. You know, you alluded to it to be in the program, most of the, and I don’t know the exact metrics, but most of the contractors that are in LICA are probably, you know, land improvement contractors, you know, that kind of varies by state, you get into Kansas and some of these other states, Missouri, there might be terracing contractors, you know, maybe in the Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, a lot of of water table management contractors types. But you know, they’re in North Carolina, they’re in Tennessee, they’re, you know, the whole. One thing I think is kind of made yield maps, I think I’ve gone along, I’ve done a lot to, you know, make growers aware of what the opportunity cost of not managing that soil, air, water, soil air balance. And if you can, you know, so if the but the, I guess there’s probably 20, I got tangential there, but there’s probably 20, 25 state chapters.
Sure, I’m sure, and the real, real strong region to be here in the upper Midwest, were the commonality of guys that are digging in the dirt day, every day, whether they’re ponding, or moving water, or tiling or whatever they’re doing. There’s very strong chapters, wherever, wherever you go, and like you say, it’s a great, great resource for that.
Bob Clark 11:03
One other thing is the other thing that I learned when I was well, I had an opportunity to go to a LICO field day up in Ontario, Canada. They’ve got a the Ontario provident province has a similar Land Improvement Association up there. And, you know, they tell in Ontario Providence, Manitoba Providence, Saskatchewan, Alberta, this whole Canada has kind of exploded a lot, I think, on some of these water table management contractors. So, you know, I think it’s a growing opportunity to, you know, install these systems where you can get better, more bigger, more consistent yields, is the short answer.
Yeah and you can also, you know, just again, go into Canada gives you another opportunity to hear somebody else’s story, a little bit different topography, a little bit different landscape, what are people doing here, that is maybe different than what we’re doing in Indiana may be different than what we’re doing in North Dakota, but we maybe can apply it here too. And it might be something that’s more environmentally sound might be something around sustainability. And that’s really what you’re saying is, is the band of brothers in this industry can help one another and that’s why we’ve been involved in why we wanted to have you on so thanks for sharing that.
Bob Clark 12:33
Well, you know, I appreciate that comment, Jamie. It reminded me of when I was the first was the first joined LICA, probably 25 years ago, I went to a big field day, you know, you, the first thing you do is you see how somebody else does the same thing you do, or something very similar to what you do slightly differently. And you know, that is an educational thing, it is something that you can maybe that’s actually better than the way I was doing, I mean, you know, and if it is, well, then you know, I would be kind of, it would behoove me to kind of make a change and try to do it a better way. And so, it goes right down from the very how you make your connection, how you make your tap to put your T into two, as you aggregate the move up into this, LICA Association, you know, then you start dealing with slightly different issues that that are you have to deal with that and with different people at different levels of government. So you know, you can kind of pick where you want to fit on the continuum, and what started with maybe that how to make a better tap to your connection has kind of evolved over time.
Bob, let’s talk just a little bit about the national organization. And you being the chairman of the board, you’ve worked your way through the offices now and are, in that that leadership phase. What are some of the important ideas that the national LICA is working on currently, Bob?
Bob Clark 14:05
Well, national LICA has, part of that strategic plan is to it was an outreach to other like minded associations and some natural fits are like NACD, the National Association, Conservation Districts, International Erosion Control, and we’ve got some very, we’ve had some good relationships with those associations. And so in NRCS, obviously. And as an outgrowth of those decades long bonds, because you know, LICA has been around for over 75 years and has always worked closely with, you know, their land grant universities and naturally work closely with NRCS or Soil Conservation Service. You know, we’ve we’ve just, you know, and as we know more about some of the unintended consequences of some of the systems we install, it just becomes a, it becomes more apparent to me that we need to continue this evolution to work more closely with like minded associations to kind of have a little bit more input on the program’s policy in at least, if they’ll ask, we can share our story. And I think to help make better, you know, to help the next generation, the best management programs evolve.
Excellent. There’s, a lot many faceted reasons but I agree with you, Bob. There, this is a fairly small industry, it’s not huge, but we make a vast impact on what happens across the landscape here, landscape is one of the one of the things that LICA has in their creed is that all wealth is generated by the land, and we don’t have many people that understand that anymore. And if we can make that connection for people that taking care of the land, doing the right things for the land, getting the maximum productivity of the soils, you know, we’ve got mining, we’ve got all kinds of industries, but the real wealth in the foundation of wealth is probably tied pretty closely to the land.
Bob Clark 16:26
Yes, yeah, that, you know, I think we, in Indiana, that’s part of our annual meeting, we recite that like a creed and I do think that, that there’s such a, the vast majority of people live in a in a urban landscape where they’re more worried about a biking lane and in a park, then, you know, you become, you know, you’re disconnected from, you know, so much of what goes on thats so important to you, because everybody wants, you know, most people want three square meals a day, they want a balanced diet, they want affordable food, and it’s, it’s you know, you got to manage that production, while you’re simultaneously losing, you know, farm ground to urban sprawl, which I’m okay with, because, you know, they, you know, the only way they’re going to make Minneapolis or Chicago or Detroit or Omaha, any bigger they’re gonna take a field, they’re gonna put a, you know, a school on it, or a shopping mall or a neighborhood, that’s fine. But you know, and also everyday there’s, you know, I think it’s somewhere north of 200,000 people, every day, there’s just another 200,000 people on the planet. And so we it’s, it just seems like, to me, it seems like it’s important that we because we are good stewards, and we manage and respect that work that we do,
Right, and you’re, you know, you’re kind of singing off the the sheet of music that we’ve been talking about, and we want to continue to pursue and promote, and that is that we aren’t getting more land, there is no more land being made, and in this world, and there are more people every day. And so what are we going to do with the land that we have, we’re going to have to produce more on the land that should produce more, and then we’re going to have to, you know, buffer this stuff and create a great environment for conservation and the outdoors and the stuff that we shouldn’t be farming. But if we’re going to continue to grow in population size, we’re going to have to do more and more on the land we have. And that’s where people like you and your industry come in.
Thanks, Jamie. Let’s let’s switch gears, Bob, and talk a little bit about water quality. I know that’s one of your passions, something you’re very involved in. You and I have spent quite a bit of time on that subject, Bob, with the new administration coming in to power now. We’re all hearing more about water quality soil health, carbon sequestration, carbon trading, what impact it will add on what impact will those new regulations have on how we do business and how we interact with our customers, Bob?
Bob Clark 19:19
Well, I think that’s a work in progress. I think, Kent, I don’t think I have the answer to the question. But I do think, you know, I do think we shouldn’t be scared about a new administration or improved rule, water quality outcomes, or improve soil health or carbon sequestration. I think that those things all can work together, if managed properly, you know, and maybe maybe there’s some ground that that shouldn’t be farmed that would be better repurpose to something else as a like, I don’t know, let’s just throw it out like a solar farm. You know, But if you’ve got, you know, and I think what, we should, what I think that we should look at is trying to maximize the most productive soils we have, you know what is sustainably produce on the most productive soils we have a lot of those productive soils have seasonally high water tables are constantly high water tables. And if we can manage that in such a way where we can improve soil health, improve production agriculture, and improve it by using some of these edge infield practices that are available to growers, like drainage water management, saturated buffers bioreactors in such a way that we can, you know, if we got too much water, the drains on if we don’t have enough, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s hold. Let’s save that water because it’s one of the key resources to production agriculture.
Absolutely. The NRCS says there’s about 30 million acres in the upper Midwest that are suitable for drainage water management of some type. And those would be conservation practices that the farmers would adopt on their good cropland that allow them to crop the land and do what they need to do on the land, but ensure more water quality. So there’s, there’s a lot of win wins and many, many people don’t understand that. If you’re putting projects in water table management projects that’s heavily regulated, you have to follow the rules, you have to do the right thing. But there are some incredibly interesting and new practices like you were talking about, Bob.
Bob Clark 21:32
You know, I think that one of the things we’re really close to the automation component is not quite, I think, to where. Let’s just look at a center pivot. If you look at a center pivot, you know, they’ve got moistures probes, they know when they’re how much water is it enough? Okay, turn it off. It’s not enough I keep putting…I envision, right, you know, I’m pretty optimistic guy, but I would think, in the not too distant future, there will be a way that a grower can remotely like from his office from his, you know, his computer, his screen, you know, know if his drainage is is right, if it’s too wet, then I should drain if it’s if it’s not too wet, don’t drain, The water does not need to leave the field. And I think that’s going to be good because you’re going to conserve more water on the farm, you’re going to get bigger, more consistent yields, and you’re going to improve soil health and real water quality outcomes.
Yeah, those are exciting days ahead. And there’s a lot going on, you know, some of our listeners are just general public listeners that don’t necessarily have an any attachment to agriculture. And, you know, we here have been talking about and we’ll continue to talk about just what’s happening on the landscape, there’s a lot of technology, advancements that are happening, and those kinds of things are coming where we will be able to know. They already do on a small scale, but on a large scale, be able to know what our opportunities are from a soil moisture within a in the soil profile on any field. So we’re excited about that.
So Bob, there’s a lot of things like we were talking about with drainage water management. And if this is a good place, just to remind any of our listeners, if you don’t really know what a pattern tile system is, or what drainage water management is, I’d encourage you to go to YouTube. There’s all kinds of videos. Prinsco has one called “Drainage 101” that’s really like a five minute watch and it’s, it’ll tell you the basics of what we’re talking about here. But there’s a lot of partnerships that we’re forming now, with conservation groups and working together on there’s people like the conservation drainage group, that’s a group of researchers from the green land grant universities, there’s another one called transforming drainage. There’s the Nature Conservancy, the Soil and Water Conservation Society, all the land grant universities, were working constantly with these people to come up with new ideas on how to farm they’re really good land and how to address some of the challenges that we have with drainage water that’s coming out of our systems. How do you talk to your some of your customers about those kinds of things, Bob?
Bob Clark 24:23
That’s a great question, Kent. You know, a lot of it depends on site specific. You know, if you’ve got the right soil, you got the right restrictive layers, you got the right cropping system. And you know, these things kind of line up and all sudden, you become what I call it, we call like a good fit, you know, where you can use some of these practices that, you know, that have evolved out of a lot of these, like the transforming drainage task force. That’s the transformed drainage study where they they’ve actually got the new practice of drainage water recycling, which is, you know, at first, you know, I was on the committee and I’ve known about it for years. and just last September I was up at the Michigan LICA field day where they put one of these practices into place on like, 140 acre site, just maybe 15 miles from the western edge of Lake Erie, so it was site appropriate soils, it was everything was right. And we had a grower, that was landowners won’t step up, out a lot of different reasons, but highly motivated, out of senses stewardship to manage this. And I think what we will find, as time goes on, and we can kind of aggregate some data is that, you know, when you keep that system like that, and you manage it properly, you know, water will, because it’s like, by definition is it’s his most valuable resource. So if I got too much of my most valuable, I put it in a pond, if I don’t have enough of my most valuable resource, I’ll take some of the pond and put it back in my pipes, and sub irrigate the farm. And I think, you know, it might sound expensive, but I’m sure it does, I don’t have any idea what the cost per acre drain on for something like that was or cost per acre for that kind of project. But, you know, if the yield is big enough and consistent enough, or you’re growing a specialty crop, or an organic crop, or some high value crop, you know, you’re going to you’re going to make the grower has to be, you know, incentivized by a return on the investment to make these practices or they’re going to have to be, you know, cost shared, because the greater good to the landscape downstream is such that they can afford to cost your on something stuff to get it to happen. But I think if production is enhanced enough, these things could potentially sell themselves.
I mentioned a new administration, and probably there’s going to be some changes to some of the regulations, Bob, along with regulation comes opportunity. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to a to one of our customers one of your customers about why they should consider the conservation aspect of putting a system in and why that’s important. When there’s such just an upside to the yield bump they’re gonna get. So how do we, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve had over the years, and you and I’ve had several conversations about this, Bob, is how do we tell our story in an engaging way? How do we get that message out there, you know, less than two people 2% of people are on the farm anymore. The distance from where food comes from is further and further from people’s minds, yet they have such high expectations for the quality of the food, they’re going to get out. How do we marry some of these ideas and not neglect telling our story?
Bob Clark 27:58
Well, Kent, I know, you know, this, but, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s definitely not a sprint, this is kind of a marathon. And, you know, we have to pace ourselves. And I don’t think we we shouldn’t get discouraged because we don’t tell that we should just stop, just continue to do things like we’re doing right now. You know, starting this podcast, Jamie, I give you a ton of credit for having the vision to kind of spearhead this thing and kind of be the tip of the spear, so to speak. And I kind of like that whole philosophy, you know, if you’re not moving forward, you get left behind. And I think, you know, it’s going to be a podcast, it’s your web, it’s our website, it’s this LICA contractor magazine, it’s drainage contractor magazine, it’s LICO up in Canada, and you know, and then. You know, a team effort, it’s you know, it’s the state chapters, it’s working with your local, you know, State Technical Committee with the NRCS to make sure that the the practices that you think should be highly prioritized like edge field practice, like drainage water management, saturated buffers, are heard by the decision makers that can make it a priority. I got a great example of what kind of how things can be kind of frustrating for a contractor in a grower. I’ve got a grower, very progressive, very forward thinking. He had a 2019 had a really wet growing season, and it got so wet, he couldn’t plant basically this quarter section. And so he had the money, it’s like, well, okay, well, I’m going to tile it now. Instead, I mean, I’m just gonna go ahead and pat it out. You know, tile the whole thing and it was perfect, it was not perfect, but about 60 acres, perfect. One control structure, manages 60 acres that’s we sub we got it designed for sub irrigation or drainage water management. So we went ahead and he didn’t sign up for the cap 130 hadn’t gone to the NRCS. We went ahead and sold the project with water control, more control structure. So he’s circling back, we’re doing more for him. And I said, now you got to go back to so he’s went back this fall to try that, or just recently just try to sign up for the cap 130. Well, guess what? They said they wouldn’t fund the project, because he’d already put it in. He’s already got drainage water management, but I’m arguing, no, he doesn’t have drainage water management, he didn’t sign a contract, he’s not three years obligated to put those boards in, the form of fallacies and pull him out of Spring. And so I think, some of the ways LICA, and maybe ADMC, and NACD, we can we can share the timeliness of these practices and how growers, you’re not going to spend $150,000, and then turn around and wait for, you know, a $3,000 cost year or $35,000 costs year. But they have to be, you know, if it’s sound plan, right soil, everything’s installed, whether it’s before or after you funded, what difference does that make I don’t understand that there’s some work yet to be done. And I think part of this partnering with other like minded associations, will allow us to share those concerns in a louder way, in a way that’s more that resonates more that’s listened to better by the by the people who need to hear it.
Yeah, you know, when you share that Bob, and it makes me think a little bit in what we’ve been talking about here around the idea that there isn’t going to be one practice that’s going to solve this, it’s going to be several practices, it’s going to be bioreactors, it’s going to be saturated buffers, it’s going to be drainage water management. And it’s also going to be all the groups that you that you share it and more that are going to have to solve this. And it kind of comes back to you know, I heard a quote last week that somewhat applies here. And it’s it, the quote was, you know, take notice of the ordinary things, the extraordinary things will take care of themselves. And a lot of what we’re doing here and what I what I think has passed our industry by at times is so much of what happens in industry and in America is technology driven. And some of what we do doesn’t take heavy technology, it does takes doing things a little bit different to create a better environment and a better sustainable approach. And and I think if we can lock arms as as independent contractors in in our growing groups, we’ll get that done. And it’ll be it’ll be a better thing for the environment.
Bob Clark 32:42
Well, I share your belief wholeheartedly Jamie. You know, another little story on the same kind of a frustration I have here in Indiana. In Indiana, we every county has a county surveyor. In Ohio, they don’t have county surveyors, they got a county engineer and they got the, in a they’re there. So water conservation district which acts a lot like, you know, the design on some of these bigger, larger mutual drains. But in Indiana, we have a county surveyor, we’ve got a drainage board, that’s, you know, a couple local county people, maybe a couple county commissioners on there. And in Indiana, you know, I could I can go over and build upon on adjacent land. In fact that water almost all the way up to the property line without any consequence. In Indiana, you know, one of the best ways to manage drainage water is on large mains, that’s where you get most of management on most of those big washes. But in Indiana, you cannot manage. You can’t use drainage water management on county Tommy’s. Well, you know, when they wrote the code, you know, 50 or 100 years ago, I’m sure it made perfect sense. But with the technology we have today, we know exactly at what elevation to stop raising that water level, because we’re pushing it all the way up on the neighbor, just like if you would build upon so in my mind, we need to change it state level we need change it we need we need to touch nationally. So it’s going to take a multifaceted, coordinated effort by a lot of people, and I just and I think you know, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
That’s what that’s one thing we didn’t touch on that, LICA is heavily involved in we’ve got a full time lobbyist in Washington DC, working on regulatory things. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of things that are regulated, some of them really should be like regulated, but we’d like we have to get to a place where we are talking about new ideas and working with the agencies. And so that’s a great feature of joining LICA, you get a lot of those updates and you’ve got someone working on your behalf in areas that most of us are fairly uncomfortable working in.
Bob Clark 34:57
Yes. We had just recently we had a gentlemen, John Peterson had a very great career with NRCS and rose to, I don’t know, whatever level he got up to there, but he was our legislative liaison in Washington and I think we’ve got a new gentleman, Nick, I don’t want to miss pronounce his last name. So I’m not going to get the Yexica. I think it’s his last name. But I think, you know, we’ve get those seasoned people there that helped keep us briefed and aware and informed on some of the some of the issues. And one thing about LICA as a national association is, primarily, I think we all agree with it there. There’s a lot of water table contracts, a lot of drainage contractors in it. But there’s also a lot of the East Coast chapters, they’re a little more urban, and they have slightly different issues. So it’s good that we have so many in DC, that it’s got the bandwidth to kind of look at a lot of different industries, to help keep a broader segment of the construction industry and formed.
Thanks. Thanks, Bob, for being with us today. And we’re kind of starting to wrap this up. And one thing earlier on that, that you talked about, and that you shared was your second generation in your family business and definitely going to go on to the third generation as you have your son in business with you. And as a fellow in the family business prints go is a third generation business. And we’re we’re planning on a fourth. You know, one of the one of the questions I had have for you is just many of the people listening to this podcast are also fellow drainage contractors, and they’re mostly family businesses. And and what kind of advice could you share? What would you say is, you know, maybe one of the things that’s made your family business successful and stayed in the family?
Bob Clark 36:54
Well, that’s a great question to not let me prep for Jamie, thank you very much. Well, first off, you know, I never, I always wanted to give my son the freedom, or my daughter, for that matter, the freedom to do what they want, you know. If they wanted to come back, you know, I was fully for it. But I didn’t want to feel, I wanted to make let them decide. So my son actually, you know, went off to school, and then he got pretty well educated there. Then he did some other things worked for Price Waterhouse Coopers, big accounting firm, then he worked with another startup company on some kind of corporate culture. I don’t know the specifics of that, but you know it, then I’ll tell you, the funniest thing was, about seven years ago, I got an email from him, he says, Hey, dad you got any, like a p&l or something, you know, he was wanting to see some KPI kind of stuff, you know, and I’m like, I think I got something here. And, you know, but he, he had to figure out whether he had that entrepreneurial itch or not, and, you know, come to find out he did so it, I think that, you know, it ultimately, you know, it’s a great story. But ultimately, you know, when you when you bring up a pretty well educated third generation back to the business, well, you know, I’m tell you, what happens to is, you know, your overhead kind of goes up a little bit. So you, so you have to start thinking about ways to, you know, maybe diversified, it’s good, and it’s caused me or it’s given me the opportunity to kind of stretch my vision quite a bit. So it’s always great to get young, energetic, you know, I, you know, he’s my son, but I’ll think I’m bragging but very sharp guy, sharp people on your team, whether it’s your son or a fellow employee, it’s just always great to have that, that give and take and have those meetings where you’re kind of brainstorming
Yeah, for sure. And it’s you know, there is added excitement, there’s no doubt about it, when it is family, you want to continue your legacy and yet, at the same time, your best days when when is when you have family and you have a good day and your worst days or when it’s a family issue. So I’m just I’m just super proud of the fact that you guys and your business have found a way to continue the legacy because as Kent stated early on it is the backbone of America as a small businesses and most small businesses are family businesses. So thank you for the hard work and the effort that your family has put into continuing it I think, I think at the at the water table podcast here we kind of diverted a little bit there, which is okay, we have the latitude to do that when we want to but we usually we share kind of your last thoughts, Kent you can kind of go into that a little bit and how we do that and see what Mr. Clark has to say.
Well, Bob, you have done a great job like I knew you would, you’re you’re well spoken and you’re seasoned and you’ve done a lot of things that give a lot of insight. Obviously, just listening to your talk again today, Bob, you really feel like the future’s bright for this industry in this business. So what’s next for Clark Farm Drainage?
Bob Clark 40:12
What we try to do is, you know, I’m just excited that that we’re going to continue to install water table management systems, and try to be and do it as responsibly as we possibly can. And it was steward mindedly as we possibly can. You know, and I’m really proud and excited that I’ve got, you know, and Jamie already hit the nail on it, I got the third generation. And it’s just that, you know, there’s the intangible benefits of that are hard, you know, I don’t need to quantify it, I feel it, you know, I just feel it in it. And that’s an awesome feeling. And I look forward to that gives me a lot of optimism for the future. And I think for Clark Farm Drainage we want to just continue, I had a friend of mine, who use to own a business called Ag Express. And he used to say, if you’re not moving forward, you getting left behind. And I wholeheartedly think that’s true. So we’re going to continue to kind of try to do try to move forward in the in the most responsible, professional and productive way possible.
Great answer. While we thank you for being with us. Do you have any last words for us on your perspective on where the industry is going? Or really anything that Bob Clark wants to leave us with on this cold Monday in Minnesota?
Bob Clark 41:37
Well, I just want to say that I really appreciate the opportunity to be on your podcast, Jamie, the water table, and talk about things that I spent a lot of my time is, you know, it’s kind of my lifestyle, actually to, to you know, you know, I don’t know if you know this, but you know, I’m in my office, but it’s a pull barn, that’s on a five acre property in my house I walked to is like 250 feet away. So I mean, I got a really short commute, and I can’t, and you might know this, it’s hard sometimes to decouple from from work, and home, especially when it’s family, because, you know, sometimes he’s my son, and sometimes he’s just pushing me way too much on the business side, or asking for things, I think, or, you know, are challenging, so, but I do like the fact that I am doing what I like, and I hope that we can collectively all move our industry forward in put it in and share our story that resonates with, you know, those, the vast majority of people who have are very disconnected from the land.
Yeah, and passion is so important. And we can tell that on this podcast that your passion and to be able to do translate that and give that down to your to your family and your son and daughter as is a legacy that they won’t forget the passion that they get from their dad. So, you know, at the water table were about water quality and sustainability. But there is a lot to talk about with people in our industry of all family businesses. So we might ask you back and be on a panel someday and we’ll talk about family businesses.
Bob Clark 43:20
Well, I would be honored to be be part of that. And I just want to say once again, you guys, Kent and Jamie, you guys are true professionals. You are industry leaders in this whole idea that you’ve brought before me with this podcast. I think it’s just another big step in the right direction. Keep up the good work, guys.
Well, thank you for your time.
Bob Clark 43:41
Thanks, Bob. I can’t wait to the next time I see you in person we can catch up. Take care.
Bob Clark 43:46
Okay gentlemen, take care. Thank you.
Thank you. Thanks, Bob. Appreciate.
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