2006 Apex Winners
Levi & Norma Huffman
Mr. Levi Huffman is a third generation farmer. Levi and his wife Mrs. Norma Huffman, began farming with Norma's father, Ralph Wise, in 1972. Since that time, the farm has undergone many changes. Today, Levi and Norma farm with their son Aaron and his wife Roberta, and daughter Sherilyn and her husband Jim Hawbaker. The farm has grown to nearly 3,000 acres and produces 9,000 hogs each year in a farrow-to-finish operation.
Changes to the family business are guided by the four goals contained in the mission statement of the business. These goals are 1) Produce quality agricultural products while wisely utilizing their resource base; 2) Preserve the family farm entity while meeting the needs of each family; 3) Offer a helping hand to others where needed; and 4) Maintain a sense of community responsibility while being governed by good Christian principles.
Over time, changes to the family business has meant the expansion of some enterprises, the elimination of others, and the initiation of new enterprises that would have been quickly dismissed as foolish in 1972. In addition to the traditional farm enterprises of crop, soybeans, and hogs, the farm includes the production of processing tomatoes, cabbage, Indiana corn, mini-gourds, and mini-pumpkins. In this process of diversifying the business, Levi has learned about listening to the customer, the importance of packaging, the need for bar codes and UPC labels, the development of a brand identity for the farm, and management of a multi-cultural labor force.
Levi is fond of saying that you need to think “outside the box.” Levi continuously seeks ways to improve the farm business. Production technologies are assessed for their ability to enhance product quality or production efficiency. But the evaluation of technologies is not limited to the operating part of the business, Levi has been at the forefront of evaluating business organization and business practices. These evaluations have led to changes in organizational structure, creating a family council that conducts monthly meetings, and development of a management succession plan. Levi began the process of continuous quality improvement before much of the rest of the farm business community was aware of this concept.
In addition to leading a successful farm business, Levi has generously given to his community and Purdue University . For a number of years, he and Norma have provided an example of outstanding farm business managers through their visits with farm management classes and participation in other programs organized by department members. Levi provided guidance to the launching of the Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center by serving on its Board of Directors. Levi also serves on the advisory board for the North Central Risk Management Education Center . One of the important duties of this position is to review and recommend Center funded projects. Levi has served in various positions with the Pork Producers. He has served as a director on the Tippecanoe County Extension Board and as a volunteer for numerous community projects. He and Norma have also acted as gracious hosts to numerous visitors to Purdue that would like to visit an Indiana farm. A few pictures of Huffman – Hawbaker Farms can be found at http://www.hhfarms.net/ .