By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Growing up, the Idsinga siblings said they were often tagged with the name coyote pack or wolf pack because of their loyalty to each other. Now they’re applying that trait to operating a business together.
The four 20-something siblings — Dougie, Dawn and Derek Idsinga and Darci Collins — inherited the family business, Crosswinds Dairy, following the death of their parents in an auto accident in August 2006.
They were all working at the family dairy when their parents, Doug and Debbie Idsinga, died. However, the tragedy flung them into the role of business owners much sooner than expected or desired.
“It was not a question in our minds that this is what we would do,” Dawn Idsinga said.
Friends and fellow dairy owners said they’re doing a great job.
Dairy Farmers of America agreed and presented the four, along with Darci’s husband, Denver, its most prestigious award at DFA’s annual meeting in March in Kansas City, Mo.
Each year DFA, with 21,000 members, honors one operation in each of its seven regions nationwide with the Member of Distinction Award.
Dawn said the business is operated as a legal partnership between the siblings.
They’ve also found their niches within the day-to-day operation. Dougie, the oldest, takes care of dairy operations, Derek, the youngest, is responsible for the dairy’s farming operations, Dawn and Darci take care of the bookkeeping and Denver puts his contractor skills to use with repairs and upgrades.
“We didn’t realize how hard our folks worked for us,” Dawn said. “Going from workers to owners was tough. It’s just been a challenge for us to jump in and run the business while grieving.”
She said the pressing responsibilities of the 2,100-head dairy have helped them through the grief.
“Pretty much everything we knew,” Dougie said. “But the financial part has been pretty tough.”
Dawn and Dougie said they’ve had lots of help and encouragement from the dairy
community following their parents’ death. In particular, they say their uncle, Jim Idsinga, and Art Schaap, both dairymen, have been there with advice.
“We’re very proud of them that they’ve been able to step up to the plate and continue to run a quality operation,” said Schaap, a close family friend. “We really miss Doug and Debbie, but the kids are doing an outstanding job of running the dairy.”
Expansion plans had been in the works when their parents died and Dougie and Dawn said they still hope to make that happen. They said they’ll just be taking it a little bit slower than their father would have.
The Idsinga children said it had been a dream of their parents to continue to grow and improve the business.
“It’s what my parents stood for and what they wanted us to do,” Dougie said.
“We want to keep that dream alive,” Dawn said.