Located in Clovis, N.M., Southwest Cheese Company LLC is the largest cheddar cheese plant in the world. Since opening five years ago they have captured 9.7 percent of the U.S. market for American style cheddar.

Chief Operating Officer, Rance Miles, shared his experiences and some advice with dairy producers at the Managers Academy this week in Albuquerque, N.M. The Managers Academy is hosted by the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.

Miles offered the following advice:

* Timing, timing timing. Life is about timing and timing is less about luck than it is about timing.
* Be conscious of who you are and what you stand for. Then live it every day. “The best sermons are lived not preached,” notes Miles.
* Choose friends carefully and advisors wisely. “Be selective about who you listen to and what info you subject yourself to,” he says.
* Be decisive. Don’t get frozen in indecision.
* Find and hire the smartest and best people. Don’t hire anyone that’s not smarter than you. “Hire people that abate your weaknesses and compliment your strengths,” he says.
* Incentivize your people. “Yes, I mean money,” says Miles.
* Delegate and communicate. Be a student of human behavior. Understand and realize what motivates behavior.
* Trust your own instincts and judgment. Draw on all of your experiences good and bad.
* Don’t be intellectually lazy. You are smarter than you think you are.
* Trust yourself. Good judgment comes from experience.
* Have the right strategic partners that compliment your strengths, share your vision and core values. “I can’t stress this enough,” says Miles.
* Develop and maintain a detailed and realistic business plan. This is the DNA of your business. “The plan and the business are a living breathing entity, which start smuch like a child and require nourishing and nurturing from its parents,” he says.
* Develop a sound marketing plan. The marketing plan has to be focused and concise, you can’t be all things to all people, says Miles.
* Don’t take on too much. A sale is only good if you can execute it.
* Every monkey has its own swing – figure out your swing and stay in it, he says.
* Arrange for more than adequate capital. If you don’t have enough capital, don’t start – period.
* Actively manage risk. Managing risks on the input side and product side is now absolutely essential.
* Know that the only constant in life and business is change. “Embrace change, but do it intelligently and when it makes sense,” says Miles.
* Don’t abandon your core values.

Source: Megan Pierce, Dairy Herd Management