I went to a Nashville Predators hockey game a few weeks ago and being a big hockey fan, was in that “sports daze” most of the game, just enjoying a great match-up with the Florida Panthers. Most of the fans were quiet during the second period when it was still a 1-1 game.  The 20,000 people in attendance were so quiet that all you could hear was the sound of skates starting and stopping, the puck hitting sticks and the occasion glove catch by the goalie.  At one point, during this intense quiet, a fan yelled out (in true hockey fashion…and in a true Tennessee drawl) “Somebody hit somebody!”  Now to be fair, I’m not a fan of fighting at hockey games; I actually love the sport for the sport.  But it was pretty funny and it got the crowd all stirred up.

I realize it’s only January, but I feel like we have this intense dread of what 2018 is going to hold for the dairy industry and everyone is quiet…and I feel like yelling “Somebody Hit Somebody!”  Or translated into a better phrase – Somebody DO something!  The gloom and doom predictions are nothing short of depressing.  So why can’t we talk about solutions, and creative fixes, and opportunities?

Hit #1 We have started a “Friday Forum” post on our All West Facebook pages – one week we ask a question on the dairy page, and one week we ask a question on the beef page.  During one of these forums, we asked about side-line businesses, because we can probably all agree that another income source is necessary to survive in times like this.  If you haven’t seen the post, or aren’t on Facebook, we’d like to hear from you!  What kinds of businesses are helping your mind, and your checkbook, to ride through this current storm?  Often times, those “other” jobs not only provide a valuable source of income, but they’re fun, and different, and introduce you to a whole new business.

Hit #2 We are finding (and will be writing about) many All West customers who have creative, money-saving tips and practices that they do on their dairies.  Not only are they inspiring, but they’re valuable ways for the rest of us to learn!

Hit #3 We have several customers who have installed robotic milking systems, and while the out of pocket expense seems large at first, the peace of mind, and labor savings come into view awfully quickly.  We’ll be hearing more from a young customer in California in the coming months about why they made the investment now, and how that’s paying off already.

The bottom line is that times are tough, but these are the times to shine during adversity!  These are the times to open your mind to new ways of doing things, creative ways of solving problems, focusing on the basics and charging through.  DOING something instead of just “skating through the game and waiting for time to expire.”

We have to do those same things at All West!  Our communications department committed to do more newsletter work for our customers, but with the increasing price of postage, we couldn’t justify doing things the way we’ve always done them.  So, instead of printing an 8-page Bullhorn twice a year, and paying for paper and postage, we are publishing a 2-page Bullhorn every month that will be mailed with our billing statements.  More written stories with no additional postage cost – that’s a hit!    Click here to see the January Bullhorn

We are also publishing DiamondCuts each month – which you’re enjoying right now!  More constant news for you in an e-news format – that’s also a hit!

As for other means of doing business creatively, we have long promoted the “Never stop learning” philosophy at All West.  So that means that our teams are continually improving their technical skills, industry knowledge and leadership capabilities.  Rather than spend a lot of money on travel and in-person meetings, you’ll find many members of the All West team meeting regularly on our computers through a “Go To Meeting” format.  Same great results with very little cost.

We realize that our creative business plans are just a drop in the bucket compared to the things that you have to juggle every day on hundred- and thousand-cow operations.  But the concept is the same.  Figure out what needs to get done and then DO something!

Incidentally, the Predators won their game that night, and it was an exciting, hold-your-breath, cheer until you have no voice, kindof game.  I think we’re in the same times in the dairy industry.  We’ll keep holding our breath, cheering valiantly, and somebody, somewhere just might have to give the rally cry of “Somebody hit somebody” every once in a while…but we’ve got this!

Karen Knutsen

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