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Last Update: Tuesday June 15, 2021

Key Idea: Control the Supply Chain

Bob Sakata said there are two reasons that he is a success today. First, he takes care of his employees and second, he delivers consistent product and service quality.

Key Question:


Be the consistent source.

Why does Bob supply all the big grocery stores?

Big companies demand consistency. This is the biggest reason small companies don't get contracts with big companies. So often we are not capable of supplying quantity and quality on a regular basis.

What has Bob done over the years to improve his ability to deliver consistently?

He keeps taking over parts of the whole process of growing and delivering the product to customers. He said the only part he doesn't own today is the retail outlet. There is no one way to do everything. The current trend is to outsource tasks so that you focus on the one or two things you do best. Yet, here we find Bob doing the opposite. I think this is partly his personality and partly his level of sophistication. After 46 years of running a business, he has the basics nailed. He challenges himself when he decides to buy all the trucks and hire all the people he needs to deliver from the processing plant to the customers. You can study more about outsourcing by looking at Donna Baase of Cowgirl Enterprises and you can study another owner, Gary Walls, who is just like Bob. It takes all kinds.

You have to ask yourself how big you want your business to be and what kind of work thrills you. Another key question to answer, "Do you want everyone involved in your product to be on your payroll?" People like Bob seem to like the control part of running a company. For him it is the best way to guarantee that the customer will receive consistent quality and services.

Think about it

Do you have a weak link in your supply chain? Is it something you could do if you bought the equipment and hired the right people?

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

Control the Supply Chain

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Bob's company, Sakata Farms, is one of the top 100 vegetable growers in the US. He has hundreds of customers, including Safeway and Albertsons. Sir, we saw you picking up corn.

Unidentified Man: Yes.

HATTIE: Were you picking certain ones?

Man: I was picking the bigger ones, but you don't have to worry about the quality because it's all good in the Sakata corn.

HATTIE: You're used to it.

Man: Yes, I've had it before.

BOB: When I started the farm over 52 years ago, 26 percent of the population in the United States were farmers. It took 26 percent of us to grow the food for everybody. Today there is 1.8 percent, less than 2 percent.

HATTIE: One of the efficiency decisions that you came with was that there ought to be one ear of corn on one stalk.

BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: Talk to me about that.

BOB: About 30 years ago--35 years ago, I was asked to speak at a sweet corn breeders meeting and there were really outstanding, large operators there. I was just a young kid listening to their wisdom. And they wanted three ears per stalk that looked green and a higher yield per acre. And when it came to me, I certainly didn't want to argue with my successful colleagues, but I thought that I wanted a corn plant that only produced one ear per stalk mainly because I could see the day that we had to mechanically harvest our corn and it would be difficult to design a machine that would harvest three ears off of a stalk. But one ear off the stalk, I felt that I could help design a machine. Then you could increase your plant population, also.

HATTIE: So you started 35 years ago working on the product that you now have.

BOB: Correct. There was a genetic engineer that was willing to help, and it took 20 years to come up with this so-called supersweet variety that the whole industry has at this point now.

HATTIE: You invested your time, your energy, your money to test it and develop this and work with this genetic engineer, but you don't own the seed?

BOB: No, I think anything that would be an advantage to my colleagues in the business, why they can have it, too.

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