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Last Update: Thursday December 14, 2017

Key Idea: Lighten the Worker's Load

Bob Sakata's mantra for 50 years has been, "lighten the load for the farm worker."

Key Question:

A: 

 While doing the back-breaking work himself since childhood, Bob was always thinking, `How can a job be made easier for the worker?' With this one big question occupying his mind, he has invented dozens of labor-saving devices.

Q: 
What did Bob say he is most proud of?

A:
  There are people working for Sakata Farms today who are the grandchildren of some of his first employees. Low turnover means Bob doesn't have to spend as much time training people as do other farmers. Loyalty manifests itself in dozens of difficult-to-measure ways. Bob has built-in institutional memory. A number of employees can tell stories of doing things by hand that are now made easier by machines.

These improvements are part of the corporate culture. New ideas are welcomed. New ideas will be implemented because many can remember when things were completely different. Plus, working in a place that changes is much more motivating than working in a place that never changes. Even though people say they hate change, that is really only a deep fear of failure revealing itself. People love change when they see what's in it for them and when they are taught carefully so they don't fail in the change process.

Topic for Discussion: What is one of Bob's ongoing goals?

Answer: To make work a pleasant place for everyone. This is a big and nearly impossible goal but it doesn't slow Bob down. He just keeps at it.

Think about it

What can you do to make your business a great place to work? Could employees offer up ideas?

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:
Agriculture

Year Founded: 1948

Lighten the Worker's Load

HATTIE (In the Studio) : Bob Sakata's mantra for 50 years has been lighten the load for the farmworker. While doing the back-breaking work himself since childhood, Bob was always thinking, `How can a job be made easier for the worker?' With this one big question occupying his mind, he has invented dozens of labor-saving devices and worked with big companies, such as John Deere and Caterpillar, to automate tasks he once did himself by hand.

The 20-year pursuit to develop his sweet corn seed started with the idea that automated harvesting would work if there were only one husk of corn per stalk. While others were trying to grow more vegetables per stalk, Bob was doing the opposite. He could see that labor, both the time it takes to hand harvest and the toll hard physical labor takes on workers, could be minimized in the long run if corn could be harvested by a machine. What we can all learn from Bob is no matter what the business, think of long-term efficiencies. Invest now in engineering, machines, systems, procedures and technology, and just like Bob, you'll reap the rewards.


 

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