And then. And then. And then. Just when you think the families behind Stricks Ag of tiny Chester, Montana, couldn’t add one more ag business undertaking, they take a breath, state a problem, and continue with the now familiar, “So we…”.

Tyler and Jillien Streit, Whitney and Patrick Wicks, and most recently, Brad Kantorowicz, are a relentless team. They’ve taken a business they know—agriculture—and become the solution to many of the challenges they as farmers faced.

The Streits and Wicks were working their respective generations-deep family farms with their parents when they partnered on a local bar. They eventually traded it for 200 acres of land leading to a farming partnership, Stricks LLC. Combining their resources positioned the young families to take on some of the many former CRP acres coming available at the time.

Lack of storage on the long-idle farms led them to purchase an old feed plant with rail access to hold their harvests. “And then…” they started purchasing grain and doing border logistics and transportation out of Alberta. This venture led to the Stricks Ag commodity dealership.

“Tyler and I went to Canada, came back and told the girls, ‘Hey, we bought this grain. Also, a neighbor wants to deliver and, oh, they want paid on Friday,’” Patrick laughs. They then did what they do best, put their heads together and went to work figuring it all out.

Tyler and Pat had been marketing grain since their teens and had long-established relationships with different buyers and groups. “All four of us had always been interested in where our product was going and the effects of those products,” Tyler says. Vertical integration had long been appealing for the farmers, giving them control over where their crops were going and how they would be used. They started marketing high-quality, custom blended wheat, servicing small specialty mills that wanted smaller deliveries than the larger commodity elevators could supply. And as their farms changed, so did their commodity dealership.

The pulse movement created more challenges, and more opportunity. “When we started diversifying into pulse crops on our own farms in 2010-12, we realized the existing marketplace was full of land mines,” Whitney says. The many discounts on unprocessed pulses were a surprise, and farmers couldn’t always trust the buyers to pay or take delivery of a crop.

Cooper Streit (10) and Lane Wicks (7) do their own checking. The next generations have many routes to pursue their passions and still be part of the family business.

Once again, the Streits and Wicks took matters into their own hands. “We grow phenomenal pulse crops here. What Montana didn’t have was the infrastructure to clean them, leaving value on the table,” Jillien says. They started building markets and working to turn their facility into a pulse processing plant capable of taking bulk commodity pulse crops and processing them into four or more marketable products.

Their problem-solving has not only helped their own farms and families but their community, too. In a town of just 880 they’ve created more than 50 jobs at the plant, in their trucking business, and on their farms. “Farmers we work with have said, ‘If it wasn’t for you guys, we wouldn’t grow pulses.’ Because they didn’t trust the marketplaces. They have put a lot of faith in us. Being able to add just one more opportunity for everyone out there has been really awesome,” Tyler says.

They’re now certified to handle organic crops and are looking at more processing opportunities. And then… 

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