Episode #16 – Garnet Etsell – At the heart of agriculture

“Dream. Dream Big. In conjunction with that, once you’ve dreamt and once you’ve got some sense of a vision then sit down and plan how you’re going to implement it.”– Garnet Etsell

Garnet Etsell grew up in Vancouver on the family’s blueberry farm and although it was berries that “paid for his university” the idea of farming berries didn’t interest him. The family farming experience and agriculture however, certainly did.

Fuelled by his passion, Garnet moved to Alberta where he attended Olds Agricultural College. Upon returning to the west coast, Garnet decided, along with the encouragement of his mother, to expand his education. Along with agriculture, Garnet also earned his business degree in accounting.

This achievement led to more than 30 years of experience as Chief Financial Officer for an agricultural group of companies in Abbotsford BC. He also worked with dairy, sheep, poultry, hay and…. grapes.

It took some time for Garnet and Debbie, his wife of 40 years, to fulfill their vision of owning and operating a commercial farming business. It was with the right connections and capital generated through real estate projects, that they were able to purchase a turkey farm – which was the beginning of their growing dream.

This eventually paved the path for Garnet and his family to return to the farmlands of Mt. Lehman in Abbotsford and to start another family business: Singletree Winery.

Today Garnet is a journeyman jack-of-all-trades in agriculture and business. His role with the winery involves planning, financing, administrating, and he proudly serves in his role as the chief gopher in caring for the vineyards.

Selected Links and People Mentioned from this episode:

Show Notes

  • [02:05] Supporting local and searching for great wine, Patrick shares the background and bio for today’s guest Garnet Etsell, President and Founding Partner of Singletree Winery.
  • [05:45] Garnet and Patrick get underway from The Everyday Millionaire poolside studio!
  • [06:15] Garnet shares his three-fold elevator pitch.
  • [08:00] The unfolding of Singletree Winery – a family affair!
  • [10:40] Wait, how many pounds of turkey does their turkey farm produce in a year?
  • [11:20] Garnet takes us back to his family’s business beginnings in construction.
  • [12:25] An early fascination with entrepreneurialism and agriculture shape Garnet’s life direction.
  • [13:15] Why bother with education when he simply wants to farm? Some helpful guidance from Garnet’s mother that he’s glad he followed through on, both for his education and for the girl!
  • [14:27] Garnet gets his first degree and he and his wife Debbie get movin’on.
  • [16:27] Learning a bit about resource management in the world of farming and agriculture.
  • [18:00] Garnet decides to expand his education beyond hands-on farming to get a business degree in accounting and how his hands-on education at the age of 15 paid for his university education.
  • [20:30] Garnet talks about his struggles with purpose and his path in life.
  • [23:00] The power of real estate in Garnet and Deb’s life.
  • [26:25] Alongside Garnet, Deb has played a big part in their business and real estate success, and Garnet shares a bit about Deb’s background.
  • [29:00] A defined fork in the road. A conversation about passion, purpose, and working backwards from a clear outcome.
  • [32:32] Garnet explains the support and encouragement he received from his parents, and how that shaped his own parenting of his two sons, Andrew and Nathan.
  • [34:55] Looking to the future, the legacy of agriculture and real estate for Garnet and Deb.
  • [37:30] Working through adversity as a means to get more informed and more involved. Garnet describes the impetus which got him more involved with agricultural industry issues and working on policy issues with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
  • [41:00] Garnet weighs in on life and emotional balance.
  • [42:50] Morning routines (or not!).
  • [44:30] Why Garnet feels keeping their business within the family is important.
  • [45:45] The value of a good plan in Garnet’s world.
  • [46:50] Looking at the importance of liquidity and cash flow through the agricultural operations lens.
  • [48:40] Garnet explains his thought process when things are hitting the fan.
  • [49:20] How Garnet’s mentors have guided him along the way.
  • [50:30] Does Garnet enjoy relationship building?
  • [51:35] The driving force behind Garnet’s decision to get involved in agricultural industry issues both locally and nationally.
  • [53:30] Impacts of a devastating disease to poultry farmers and the strategic leadership approach Garnet took to start conversations and action in policy change.
  • [56:35] Garnet gives us the background and heritage of how Singletree Winery got its name (hint: it’s not one tree – they are surrounded by trees!)
  • [59:30] The skills Garnet and his family are harnessing to bring Singletree to fruition and flourish.
  • [62:10] What is the vision for Singletree? Do they have grand aspirations?
  • [63:28] Garnet talks about his son Andrew, his approach to and passion for agriculture.
  • [65:40] Garnet shares his advice for listeners based his life experience and successes.
  • [66:47] Family Business. The challenges of living and working together and the conversations (sometimes heated) Garnet and his family find themselves having. Two autocrats in one business can be interesting.
  • [71:15] Patrick and Garnet talk about being in business with their spouses, communication styles and why it’s better when Garnet listens to Deb!
  • [73:50] Has Garnet made any decisions in business that he regrets or wishes he had sidestepped?
  • [75:05] Two tried and true methods: Keep it simple and stick with what you know.
  • [76:20] Patrick spotlights Garnet’s pragmatism and intentionality. The power of making a decision, then setting our focus.
  • [77:50] Ok, time for some rapid fire! Swear words, alternate dream profession, weird vs. introvert, what he hopes to hear at the pearly gates and Garnet’s favourite music.
  • [81:10] Garnet’s gratitude.

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