Family runs three businesses simultaneously

Mark and Claudia Keating stand with some of their staff at Keating Seeds. | Photo courtesy of Mark Keating

The Keatings produce grain on their farm near Russell, Man., but also find time to operate a seed plant and a restaurant

For most people, running one business is more than enough, but not for Mark Keating, who owns and operates three.

Keating is a grain farmer from Russell, Man., a farm that has been in his family for more than 100 years.

“I feel very privileged to have that opportunity,” Keating said about operating his multigenerational farm. “Farming is a challenge, like any business, but it can also be very rewarding.”

Keating farms about 7,200 acres, and grows around nine different crops. He said sustainable farming is important to him.

“We need to compete in that global market and the only way we can compete from year to year and generation to generation is to look after the land,” Keating said. “And that’s what sustainability is about. You can’t achieve long-term sustainability by neglecting your land.”

Alongside his farm, Keating runs a seed plant, known as Keating Seeds. Originally started by his uncle in the early 1950s, Keating recently invested in a brand new facility with a greater capacity.

“We can process a much greater range of crops and produce a superior product,” Keating said.

Operating a large farm and successful seed plant keeps Keating busy, especially in spring.

“The busy season is that two- to four-week stretch at seeding time when farmers are picking up their orders,” Keating said. “We’re transitioning towards a full service retail outlet.”

But the farm and the seed plant aren’t the only things keeping Keating busy. His family also owns and operates a café in Russell, Man., known as Bin 22.

“We wanted to invest in our community,” said Claudia Keating, Mark’s wife. “We really enjoy finding good coffee shops when we travel so we figured Russell could use that, too.”

But Keating said it wasn’t just about running another business. She explained they wanted to involve their three daughters, as well.

“We wanted to teach our daughters about business and the farm is such a big established business it’s hard to come in and learn that, so this was an upstart and new to all of us so we could all learn together,” Claudia said.

“And that certainly is what happened, the girls all had a keen interest in helping us grow it.”

She said running three businesses is a challenge, but that’s what her husband enjoys.

“He likes the extra challenge that the coffee shop provides because it’s a little bit different and allows us to be more creative,” she said.

Mark said all three businesses depend on the people they have working for them and supporting them through their endeavours.

“We’re very fortunate to have a good team all around us,” he said. “It makes life simple.”

“Strong community support is a big reason for the growth and sustainability of our businesses.”

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