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Key Idea: Give Bankers Spreadsheets

Bob Sakata keeps his banker happy by providing financial statements.

Key Question:


Bob has always had a banker because he has always prepared spreadsheets.

Q: What kind of information does Bob provide his banker?

A: He gives the banker a five-year, cash-flow projection. This gives the banker a way to understand exactly how Bob will be able to pay back loans.

Q: What kind of loan did Bob receive initially?

A: A character loan. The loan is so named because in 1952 Bob didn't have a successful business. He grew up in the community and the banker looked into Bob's eyes and took a risk that Bob would pay back the loan.

However, Bob did the work of preparing a five year cash flow projection based upon his best guesses about what he thought he could do. As you know from watching the video, 20 years later Bob was named a director of the bank that gave him his first loan.

Think about it

What could you do with a loan of one million dollars?

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.

Go to all the Key Ideas & Video...

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

Give Bankers Spreadsheets

HATTIE: Fifty years ago, you started out. How long did it take before you were making a living?

BOB: Fortunately, at that time, there was a banker that understood farming and was willing to stick his neck out and make a character loan. You know, that's very rare today. There was this one bank that loaned us money way beyond our net equity. Would you believe that 20 years after that, they appointed me to be a director of that bank?

HATTIE: So from the beginning, you had a banker. BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: So what piece of advice might you give someone starting a business today about money, cash flow, finances?

BOB: First of all, you have to know your business; know your business inside out. I probably had the toughest challenge at that point because there were a lot of intangibles. It could flood, it could rain, and so forth, but I had a five-year cash flow program that I gave to the bank of what we would be doing in five years.

HATTIE: That was based on you were expecting...

BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: You put the numbers on paper.

BOB: Numbers on paper, on the spreadsheet, from January to December, and all the vendors that we would be buying things from. Then on the bottom was income--of what my potential income would be and how it would balance out cash flow-wise.

HATTIE: So you demonstrated to these persons that you thought it through.

BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: When did you get your first huge customer? 50 years ago, Albertsons didn't exist. Safeway didn't exist and they didn't have big grocery chains back then.

BOB: We found out many years ago that this business was becoming so competitive that whatever vendors we were using to help us would be better integrated and do it ourselves. So little by little, why we kept integrating our tool operations to this day. The only thing we don't have is a grocery store.

HATTIE: So you made a decision: This is what we do.

BOB: Yes.

HATTIE: And by having all the pieces, you have more management control and cost control.

BOB: Service. We got quality, continuity of supply and service. You've got to have service. You know what my father told me? My father told me that, `Bob,' he said, `I don't care whether you choose a business as a shoe shiner on the street corner, but,' he said, `I want to tell you this. If you decide to shine shoes on the street corner, just do it better than the other guy on that other corner.' Simple as that.

HATTIE: That's the secret-- be the best?

BOB: Yes, be the best. No matter what you do, be the best. And be creative.

HATTIE: Be willing to change, then, to try new things.

BOB: Yes, right. That's one thing I've been blessed with. Seventy-two years old, and I still think like that young man.

HATTIE: What is it that wakes you up in the morning? Why are you so happy you're doing what you're doing?

BOB: You bring a good point. The first thing I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of the bed and pound my fist and thank God for giving me another day and all the blessings that he's bestowed upon me. And the way you could really believe that truly is to just look out there, look out there and see that beauty. That's where it is.

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