Hamoda Mohamad of Casa Verde Farmland: “Work-life balance ”

Work-life balance — I think this is the most important thing. We usually get emotional or entertain negative thoughts when we are tired. Families should bond without talking about business. This is a way to make the relationship more intact. For example, every Sunday, we stay together for the whole day doing different activities. We go camping, […]

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Work-life balance — I think this is the most important thing. We usually get emotional or entertain negative thoughts when we are tired. Families should bond without talking about business. This is a way to make the relationship more intact. For example, every Sunday, we stay together for the whole day doing different activities. We go camping, swimming, or fishing. We get a break from work so when Monday comes, we have energy for the whole week.

As a part of our series about 5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hamoda Mohamad.

Hamoda Mohamad is the owner of Casa Verde Farmland, one of the leading vegetable suppliers in Texas. He was named Farmer of the Year in 1998. He was a former forest ranger at Sabine National Forest, and he supports the Learning Disabilities Foundation.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was young, but I never imagined it to be in the agriculture sector. My father persuaded me to join him in farming, but I was adamant. Until I witnessed how much potential my father’s farm had in the agricultural industry. I eventually accepted the concept of farming. Casa Verde Farmland is the name we gave the farm, which translates to “greenhouse” in Spanish. Starting it was so hard because we didn’t have much knowledge of agriculture. But thanks to the farmers who educated and helped us during those times.

Can you tell us a bit about your family business and your role in it?

Casa Verde Farmland is managed by my father, younger brother, and me. We started with easy-to-grow vegetables until we learned the ropes of farming with the help of the local farmers. Since my father is old, he usually helps with paperwork. My younger brother, Hamani, is the marketing head, and I play the role of a director.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

Oh, I went back to school. I enrolled in agricultural classes, attended seminars and training sessions. I never thought I would go back to school at that age. Though we are already doing well at that time, I wanted to increase my knowledge in modern agriculture and gain connections in this industry.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My father and I underestimated farming. We thought we could easily learn how to grow vegetables, but when we tried, our crops get infested with pests, they died, and they didn’t look salable. When we were trying which vegetable is the easiest to grow, we planted potatoes, carrots, and lettuce alongside each other and with the same amount of sunlight, water, and fertilizers. When the farmers saw what we did, they looked at each other smiling. We didn’t consider each condition these vegetables would thrive. I thought that would be okay too because it was just a trial. The farmers understood that we are just trying to discover farming, but they said we could have asked them for help.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think Casa Verde Farmland gets more love from the people because of what we have been doing for a long time. I mean we share excess harvests with the farmers, and farmers share them with other people. Many people know us because of that and I believe that makes our partners and customers more interested in us.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Organic farming has been a trend for many farmers, and I also want Casa Verde Farmland to be more environmentally friendly. I am currently researching vermicompost, which is worm manure that is regarded as one of the greatest soil supplements. Worms used in vermicompost eat food waste and trimmings, which is ideal for my farm because we leave vegetable trimmings to decompose after harvesting, but utilizing worms would speed up the process. We’ll start making an organic substrate for the worms soon for vermicompost. Though I want Casa Verde Farmland to be an all-organic farm, we can’t just do that now. Our customers are becoming increasingly open to organic food, but most restaurants aren’t yet ready to go for 100% organic food because of the price disparity between organic and conventional produce. So even if we want to switch to organic farming, we just can’t do that because of our customers.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am most thankful to my dad. Even during the times when I felt like giving up, he still believed that I can find a way to make things better. His optimism radiates to every one of us. And of course, I owe my success to the farmers. They worked hard with me when we were starting. My success is their success that’s why I value their service to our family.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve been mentioning how important farmers are for me. So to make them feel like a family to us, they get a share of every fruitful harvest, either crops or cash. It depends on how much we make. But what made me happy was when they started sharing the excess harvest with other people. They put vegetables in plastic bags or baskets and hand them to random people. That’s how we got acquainted with the Learning Disabilities Foundation, and it became our commitment to share excess harvest with the beneficiaries of the foundation.

How do you define a family business? How is a family business different from a regular business?

Traditionally, a family business is run by a family or generations of a family. However, the definition of family has become complex. Corporations that were run by a family have almost no difference from a regular business. Consequently, the same family members can be employed in a regular business. In our case, Casa Verde Farmland is being run by me, my father, and my younger brother, so we consider it a family business. But in the future, if more people will join us in our business, I don’t want to limit it to just our family.

In your opinion or experience, what are the unique advantages that family owned businesses have?

In a small family like ours, trust and loyalty are firmly established. Thus, working together is much easier. We know each other well, so collaboration is more effective. This also applies to big family businesses. Respect is always there, and everyone has the same goal, which is to leave a legacy through that business.

What are the unique drawbacks or blind spots that family owned businesses have?

I think pride is the cause of many problems. People tend to be more competitive when they are compared to others. In a family, comparison of achievements and contributions to success trigger one to either take pride or lose pride; as much as possible, elders in the family should refrain from comparing each member of the family.

What are some of the common mistakes you have seen family businesses make? What would you recommend to avoid those errors?

People working in a family business fail to separate work from personal life that even at home, they still talk about business. This can lead to work-related arguments even at home. You know, when people fight, they get less productive and sometimes attack each other in business or personal life. It all depends on how the head of the family reacts to such situations, but it would be best to set a clear boundary between work and family.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders of family businesses to help their employees to thrive?

I would advise other CEOs or founders of family businesses to focus on the well-being of their employees. This will help to keep them from working inefficiently and decreasing the company’s productivity as a result. They should also take the time to know their employees on a personal level, as this will help them create a stronger sense of belonging among people who work for them.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean with a story or example?

Leadership is a property possessed not by a person, but by people in various roles. In my experience, it generally means the ability to inspire others to accomplish their goals and helping them depend on themselves for solutions. Having said that, what makes someone a leader varies widely from situation to situation. What’s most important is realizing when you need leadership and finding the appropriate form for your needs.

Furthermore, I believe that being a leader isn’t about being in charge — it’s just doing your part best–”we’re all leaders in our own way.” To be even more specific: It can include things like volunteering at events without hesitation or organizing something new when needed.

Here is our main question. What are the “5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business”?

1. Trust — This is the foundation of any kind of relationship. You have to trust your family and the people working for you. Believe in what they can bring to your company.

2. Proper delegation — Do not try to do everything alone because it will exhaust you. Proper delegation is very important for an organization to work successfully. You have a team to support you.

3. Feedback — There is so much to learn from other people’s feedback. You can receive feedback about your management style. If you need to change something, you have to try. Make your employees happy and satisfied. Remember, most people choose to stay in a job because of the people they work with. You also need feedback about your products or services for improvements.

4. Flexibility — Business will be unpredictable, so learn to adapt to change. The product that people are patronizing now may not be patronized in the future. Be creative, be innovative.

5. Work-life balance — I think this is the most important thing. We usually get emotional or entertain negative thoughts when we are tired. Families should bond without talking about business. This is a way to make the relationship more intact. For example, every Sunday, we stay together for the whole day doing different activities. We go camping, swimming, or fishing. We get a break from work so when Monday comes, we have energy for the whole week.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There’s a quote from Antonio Brown that says, “If you want to be the best, you can’t follow the road of least resistance. Every morning, your mind tells you it’s too early, and your body tells you you’re too tired, but you have to dig deep within yourself to know what you want and what you’re working for.” This quote seems to be written for me. Doing physical work at the farm when we were still starting made me cry. I was worried about how to make money and my body was in pain. But as the quote says, I know what I want and I have to keep pushing.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Bill Gates is the largest farm owner in the US, and I would really want to meet him. I think I’ll have a lot to learn from small talk with him. I am not dreaming of having a farm as big as his but I would love to have a tour of his land.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amounts of good to the most amounts of people, what would that be?

Not a movement, but I want to encourage entrepreneurs and CEOs to consider employing people with learning disabilities. I started working with the Learning Disabilities Foundation in 1998 and one of their goals is to create job opportunities for people with disabilities such as aphasia and dyslexia. Working with them is great despite their disabilities. We just need to understand how to deal with them and discover what area they would excel in the most.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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