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Key Idea: Keep Improving

Bob Sakata has been working on a farm since he was 10 years old.  While other kids were reading comic books, Bob was studying tractor magazines.   More...

Key Question:


Bob is motivated by struggle and inspired by the thought of trying something new. This is what keeps him alive. We have said that work is the fountain of youth and we think that, for Bob, work implies innovation. It is a good Janus face.

What happens when a person becomes complacent?

David Sarnoff, Russian-U.S. inventor, pioneer, and executive, once said "The greatest menace to the life of an industry is industrial self-complacency." Whenever we take the view, "this is good enough,” we stop growing as a business.

Striving for perfection means always looking for a better way and never saying or even feeling the "that’s the way we’ve always done it" sentiment. It means attacking each new project as if our business’' life depended on it. Collectively, that’s true! There is always a better way, and daily our challenge is to find it.

Bob Sakata's mind never stops. He is constantly challenging himself to take the next step on the road to perfection.

Think about it

Look around your place of business. What product or process needs to be improved? What would it take to make the changes needed to put your company at the top of your industry? What awards have you won lately?

Clip from: Sakata Farms

Brighton, Colorado: In this episode of our show, we return to the farm to meet an inventor and one of America's biggest vegetable growers. His name is Bob Sakata and his life's journey, his cause, has been to lighten the load of the farm worker.  He is driven because he does not forget all the back-breaking work he did as a child. Here is a man with a deep affection for life. He is naturally gracious and has a generous spirit.  His goal is to make work easier for the people he loves, and he has.

Since his earliest days on the farm back in the 1940, Bob Sakata has invented many labor saving devices; many of which you will see in this episode.  Bob is an activist;  he loves farming.  On his 3200+ acres grows some of the the sweetest corn on earth because of Bob's seed cultivations.

Bob lobbied for the repeal of the death tax; and in June 2003, the farmers of America won their day on Capitol Hill. Yet, in a very real way, we all won. Keeping open space, seeking alternatives to urban sprawl, requires us all to embrace the source of our food,  the farmlands. 

We call small business owners New American Heroes because they are innovators, risk takers, and job generators.

A servant within his industry, Bob Sakata has been the President of the National Onion Association, the president of the National Sugarbeet Growers Association, a celebrated member of the Cooperative Extension Advisory Board at Colorado State University, a director or president of one of several irrigation ditch companies, a director of the Adams County Economic Development Board, a member of Colorado Food Safety Task Force, a local School Board president, an adviser to the USDA, and so much more.

Quite deservedly, he and his wife, Joanna, were inducted into the Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1999.  Now, meet Bob Sakata, an American icon, the farmer.

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Hattie's blog about Sakata Farms

Sakata Farms

Bob Sakata, founder, owner

South 4th and Bromley Lane
PO Box 508
Brighton, Colorado 80601, CO 80601

Visit our web site: ../../page2463.html

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1948

Keep Improving

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Bob Sakata was born in 1926, and grew up on a 10-acre farm in California. He helped his father in the field and started thinking about how to make work easier. All right. So when you started farming, you didn't have any of this fancy equipment?

BOB: Oh, no. You probably took a picture of one of the pictures I've had. We just started with a team of horses and that John Deere tractor. And that leveler that you saw in the back of that picture, I built with railroad ties and timbers because we needed a piece of machinery that would be able to level the land. And in those days, there weren't hydraulics or that type of thing, so I had to innovate the hydraulic and adjust the blade manually to dig the dirt and cut the dirt and then unload it, and so forth.

HATTIE: So tell me about the first machine you thought of or the first piece of equipment.

BOB: I think I was about 10 years old at that time. Dad had us picking corn out in the field. I was the one that was carrying the baskets, and he would pick the corn. And when the basket got full, I had to walk and carry it all the way to the end, underneath the shade tree, and dump it. And he would come and pack it. I thought that was silly, so that night I just made a little narrow sled with sides on it, and we had a horse, and I had the horse pull it. And so we were able to pick the corn and throw it in the sled.

HATTIE: So when you were 10 years old, you were already figuring out ways to make farming easier for people.

BOB: Easier, right. It's just all common sense. But I did have a very curious mind. At the age of maybe eight or ten years old, I didn't go to bed reading a funny book. I would enjoy reading tractor magazines and equipment magazines. I'd look at it and I would say that would be a better way than the way they're making things.

HATTIE: Bob, this is a different looking tire to me. Tell me about this.

BOB: I'm first impressed that you noticed that it's different.

HATTIE: It's not flat. It has this bump in the middle of it.

BOB: That's right. It's what we designed, and it is common sense. You just develop a tire that is in the same configuration as the furrow. This tire falls in the furrow and just goes by itself. You don't have to steer it.

HATTIE: And what is this called? It has a name?

BOB: Single-rib tire.

HATTIE: And now you get them straight from the factory?

BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: How long ago was it that you invented this?

BOB: About six years ago.

HATTIE: So this is one of your new ones. BOB: Oh, yes. This is one of the new ones.

HATTIE: They didn't send you any big old royalty check yet?

BOB: No, but they're kind to me.

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