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Kozak grows the family business

Kozak grows the family business

Written On: 29 July, 2019
Category: Agriculture Alumni
Related programs:  Agribusiness

For Assiniboine Community College graduate Matt Kozak, the farming bug bit him at a young age, remaining a constant throughout his life.

Although he grew up with parents Stan and Margie on an acreage west of Souris, their farming operation was limited to a hobby-scale, with the family caring for approximately 35 cattle on a quarter-section of land.

Even so, it was enough to plant a love of farming in Kozak that has carried forward into adulthood, and which he hopes to pass on to his and wife Jennifer’s two boys, aged eight and five, if that’s what they choose to do.

“How many people go to their job for 30 years and did it because it’s a job? … I’m not by any means swimming in cash, but at the same time it’s allowing me to live a life that I’m happy with.”

Kozak’s introduction to the world of agriculture began as a kid, when he’d help out at his parents’ hobby farm, baling hay and operating farm equipment.

Although he managed to develop a base knowledge of agriculture, Kozak recognized his shortcomings and enrolled in Assiniboine’s two-year Agribusiness diploma program straight out of high school, where he said he learned “a lot of your inside theory that you’re not necessarily going to learn when you’re on a tractor.”

“The relatability was there, and the ability to have co-op education was really good. It gave you job experience, where you were able to go work with a company and use the fresh knowledge that you got from Assiniboine. It’s not something that you take and you don’t revisit it for a year or two.”

While some people go into farming thinking that it’s nothing more than riding a tractor and other facets of the position passers-by can physically see, he said those who find success in the industry realize early on that there’s a lot more behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done.

Even while chipping away at his diploma, Kozak kept his foot firmly planted in the industry when, at age 18, he began working on and ramping up his parents’ hobby-farm operation.

Starting out with their quarter-section, he was up to 1,000 acres by 2017, and this season is farming just greater than a section.

Upon graduating in 2002, he started work at Advanta Seeds, later taking positions with John Deere and Atom Jet Industries, in addition to working alongside his father, Stan, in construction. These jobs and Jennifer’s employment as an optician helped keep the family afloat – “a way to keep the farm feasible for the long-term gain.”

Kozak is currently employed with Rocky Mountain Equipment as their territory sales representative for south of Brandon, a position he said is aided by the fact that he’s actually using the farm equipment he sells.

Through it all, he has kept up the family farm, with this year’s crop his nineteenth.

“Some guys would call it a horrible addiction,” he said. “You can’t get dirt out of your blood. Instead of trying to save in the form of an RSP, the farm was a good investment for down the road, as well as it provided me with the ability to provide for my family.”

Although Kozak has managed to carve out his place in the agricultural sector, he said that far too many people are discouraged from even trying.

“I never liked hearing someone say ‘there’s no way you can start farming.’ There is, it’s just how bad do you want to dig? I’ve always been the kind of person where the more somebody told me I couldn’t do something the more I wanted to do it.”

In addition to getting a good education and diversifying one’s skillset, he said the key to any successful professional venture is passion.

“Whether you’re a first-generation farmer or a second-generation farmer, if you don’t have that passion and that desire to do what you’re doing you’re not going to succeed.

“I think any kind of family business where there’s been sacrifice from previous generations, if you don’t feel that same desire you shouldn’t do it. I just think that farming is something you do or you don’t.”

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