8 Core Values Bridge the Dynamics of Family and Business

8 Core Values Bridge the Dynamics of Family and Business

Eight core values bridge the dynamics of family and business

Todd and Louise Malecha have one mission: Keep everyone on the same page. For their operation, that “same page” is a 587-page business plan. 

While this plan includes everything from cash flow to crop plans to inventory details, its foundation is composed of eight company values. These values are featured in the business plan, and they are posted in the office, shop and barn of the Villard, Minn., operation.


These eight values — drive, responsible, candor, trust, fun, integrity, empathy and a commitment to CANEI (constant and never-
ending improvement) — set the foundation, pace and direction for this multigenerational and multifaceted operation. 

“Everything begins with the values,” says Todd Malecha, president of Malecha Enterprises. “Without values, our business is like a ship at sea without a rudder.”

In 1988, Todd returned home to Minnesota after serving four years in the military. He had one goal: farm. He used his military profits to pay cash for 13 cows. He soon met his wife, Louise, and they began to build a small dairy, renting space in Todd’s father’s barns.
“My dad allowed Louise and me to leverage his land to build our dairy,” Todd says.

Todd and Louise added cows and children. Their seven children, all home-schooled by Louise, learned everything about the farm — from feeding calves to driving equipment to respecting others to finances. 

“We’ve always went on family vacations and done things as a family,” Todd says. “The No. 1 thing we did as a family was work. But we would always try to have fun.”

“We make everything fun,” Louise adds, “even picking rocks.”

Today the Malecha children range from ages 19 to 32. Five of them and two daughters-in-law are members of the Malecha Enterprises team, which also includes 28 full-time and 16 seasonal employees.
8 Core Values Bridge the Dynamics of Family and Business

Todd Malecha, visionary and president, leads the strategy and responsibility for making the business viable so the next generation has the opportunity to take part.

Louise Malecha, dairy and human resources manager, oversees and mentors the team at the dairy. In 2021, she published her first children’s book, “Going to Papa and Nana’s Farm.”

William Malecha, integrator and operations manager, leads and manages the cropping, baling and chopping sectors of the business. For the dairy, he focuses on producing quality feed.

Emily Malecha, (married to William), marketing and office manager, does payroll, data entry and filing. She also leads hiring for H-2A employees and helps with social media.

Jonathan Malecha, shop and precision pumping manager, oversees the manure pumping enterprise. He also manages the seasonal team of mechanics and operators.

Benjamin Wuebkers, herd manager, is a non-family member manager. He leads day-to-day operations at the dairy, including in-house breeding and cow health.

Katelynn Malecha, social media and marketing, promotes the farm via YouTube, its website (MalechaEnterprises.com) and social media. She illustrated Louise’s book.

Rebecca Orr, calf manager, oversees a small team that focuses on calf care and herd health.

Robert Malecha, employee, is pursuing a machine/tool degree to add to his mechatronics degree.



The operation now includes 1,300 milk cows and 1,100 replacement heifers. That core business has branched into several enterprises:

  • Malecha Farms produces all the feed for the dairy on 2,500 acres of alfalfa, corn, silage and soybeans.
  • Custom operations include annually chopping more than 5,000 acres of corn silage and haylage, bagging 7,000 tons of feed and baling nearly 25,000 straw bales. 
  • Precision Pumping provides custom application of around 151.5 million gallons a year of liquid and solid manure (also certified to handle industrial waste).
  • Sales of aggregate products, including crushed rock, sand and gravel. The team crushes, washes and delivers products for construction and farm uses.

“All of these businesses were created out of necessity to build our main operations,” Todd says. “Now we can provide the same services to many other people.”


The Malechas hit a crossroad in 2011. With growth potential ahead and children coming of age they needed to take a longer-term approach to business planning. 

“From my experience, the Malechas are unique in their approach to the transition of their business,” says Rena Striegel, president of Transition Point Business Advisors. “They began working on succession when their children were young. They wanted all of them to be included in the initial interviews about what they would like to see happen on the farm.”

The family conducted an evaluation and analysis of each business unit — its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Then, they created specific annual action steps for each unit. As part of the process, Striegel helped them implement the Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS).

“As a family, they have mapped out strategic initiatives,” Striegel says. “They have consistently completed quarterly and annual planning sessions and have not missed a session, even when harvesting or planting. They have made it a priority and continue to make working on the business a focal point.”

The Malechas set one-year, three-year and 10-year goals. Progress for those goals is tracked in quarterly reviews, as well as weekly meetings. 

“I used to hate meetings because all I thought about was the lost productivity,” Todd admits. “But with EOS, we have a meeting every Monday with an agenda. We talk about one great thing that happened during the week, then we roll into our individual goals and more.”

The meetings are a springboard for leadership development for the Malecha children. If one wants to buy a forage harvester, for example, he or she must make a business case for it and present the plan to the management team for approval.

“Our children and employees have taken on leadership positions, which have made a huge shift in the growth of the business,” Louise says.

“Mom and dad created a vision for us and the future,” adds son Jonathan. “That makes you want to be a part of the team.”

Todd and Louise have cultivated a founder’s mentality in their children, explains Jennifer Brown, CPA with NutriQuest Business Solution and the farm’s part-time CFO. “It isn’t about the money, but much more about having a passion in what they do and what drives them each day,” she says.

Listen to Todd Malecha on “The Farm CPA Podcast” with Paul Neiffer:


The Malechas review a weekly scorecard of more than 20 metrics that matter to their operation. Each item is color coded to show if they are meeting, exceeding or falling short of their plan. All are tied back to the business plan and budget.

“Their budget is a dynamic, KPI-driven, farm-level tool that enables us to develop the overall operating plan,” Brown says. “There is total buy-in and accountability to the plan and alignment to the company’s operational and financial goals.”

Todd and Louise have learned they wear two hats — one for business and one for family. They will even go so far as to explain to their children what hat they are wearing in certain conversations. 

“Our No. 1 goal is to be able to sit down at holidays or birthday parties and not have tension,” Todd says. “We leave the business part out of the family. You have to work at that; it doesn’t just happen.”


Todd admits the hardest part about transition planning is trusting and letting go.

“As a parent you think you know your child, but you have to realize they want to be their own person,” he says. “They don’t want you to tell them what to do.”

Now that Todd and Louise have both shifted from active managers to mentors, they can “touch and go.” This means they can leave the farm whenever they want knowing the operation will be run well by the team while they are gone. 

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Todd says of their business’ metrics. “Louise and I did good, but they’re doing better.”

As Todd and Louise look forward, they couldn’t be prouder of the businesses they have built and the future ahead. 

“It really fills your heart when you see the next generation taking the reins of the farm,” Louise says.  

Todd and Louise Malecha are the winners of the 2022 Top Producer of the Year Award, which is  sponsored by BASF, Case IH  and Rabo AgriFinance. Meet the finalists for the 2023 award at the Top Producer Summit, which runs Jan. 23-25 in Nashville. Register now!