Meet a Farmer: Tim Baloian of Baloian Farms
Meet Tim Baloian, a third generation CEO at Baloian Farms in Fresno, CA. With many years of experience under his belt, Tim is proud of the hard work his grandfather put in to found Baloian farms and is thankful every day for the miracle of farming. Learn more about Tim and why he’s so thankful for the people that make up his farm family!
CA GROWN: What does a typical day look like for you?
Tim: I’m involved in more of the sales, marketing and administrative side of the business. I do work with our President and he oversees all of the farming operations of the company and also manages some joint ventures around the state. But a typical day for me is here in the office working on the sales desk and I feel I’ve stayed active in that because I enjoy it most of the time and it gives me a good perspective of where I think the direction of the company should be. If I can understand the sales and marketing, then it helps us make better decisions about what to grow and farm.
CA GROWN: What is your favorite part about your job?
Tim: That’s an interesting question. I guess when we see a program come together and come to full fruition. Everything we do is done nine to ten months in advance, so we’re programming now what we’re going to be doing next July and August and working on that now. What I find gratifying is when it comes together after all this planning and plotting, there’s this great expenditure of financial resources, a tremendous amount of work that goes into it, especially from the people in the fields who work so hard. When you see all this come together and you see us putting out a great product that our customers are happy with and is profitable, that’s the most enjoyable part of what we do. People have no idea how much goes into doing what we do, there’s so much plotting and planning and figuring out what to plant and when to plant it. And we have different areas that we farm in and we work with different growers in other areas, so it’s about making sure the crops get put in the right piece of ground so they come up at the right time of the year for the right need that we’re trying to fill. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t, but when you see it all come together, it’s very gratifying and fulfilling to see.
CA GROWN: How do you give back to the community?
Tim: We work with a couple different organizations. I’ve personally been involved with the Fresno Rescue Mission. I used to be on the board of directors and although I’m not on the board anymore, we still support them financially and with resources or whatever they may need from time to time. I think there’s some really great work going on there, so the company supports that organization and we also support another one called Seeds in His Garden, which is an orphanage in Kenya that we support in different ways. We send financial resources, we’ve sent seed because they do farming there and it’s an orphanage that takes care of up to 30 children that would otherwise be on the streets.
CA GROWN: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Tim: I think what I mentioned earlier, seeing a plan come to fruition and being profitable. The other thing that’s very rewarding to me is the culture of the company because we really strive to create a positive culture here. We try to all pull together and we believe what’s good for the company should be good for our employees. It’s really important to have a positive work culture so that our employees understand what we’re doing and where we’re going. So we try to get together once a month and talk about what everyone’s doing, what their contributions are to the company, etc. What we accomplish every day is a huge task and I’m very impressed with the people who work at this company and what they do on a daily basis.
CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a farmer?
Tim: You have to be in love with the miracle of farming. If you’re not passionate about it, it’s probably not for you. It’s not an 8-5, Monday through Friday type of job. With vegetables, in particular, the people who farm it and oversee it and even on the business end of it, they live with it. You have to be willing to give your time and talents and fully participate in the endeavor. It’s a very gratifying job and I think farmers are artists, they take a field of weeds or dirt and they turn it into a thing of beauty. But most importantly, it produces the most nutritional food that a human being can consume and I like being a part of that. But being a part of that comes with a great cost at times because it’s risky, it can be stressful, there’s times when you can lose a lot of money and there’s times when you can make a lot of money. But you have to understand that and be in love with the work to be a part of it. It’s definitely not for everybody.
CA GROWN: Why is it important to you that family includes the many people you’ve hired and worked with over the years?
Tim: We spend more time with them than with anybody else, so we want to create a culture where it’s enjoyable to be around. If we’re going to be here and be around each other so much, let’s enjoy each other as much as we can. It’s important that we all respect one another, value each other and realize that everyone is equally important. I’m always amazed and impressed by what this group of hard-working people does every day. Our goal is to be the best at what we do and be the best in the business at producing the commodities that we produce and we also want to make the most money for it. But there’s something gratifying and satisfying about being the best in your field and excelling at it and we try to get everyone in the organization behind that goal so we can excel at it. That’s how we’re going to continue to build this business up for the next generations. And although we’re a family business, our family doesn’t just consist of biological Baloians. Our family is people that have been here and been working with us for 30 to 40 years and that’s the real family of Baloian Farms. What’s also exciting to see is we’ve had a lot of young people come up in the organization and go from being a field worker or packing house worker and we move them to other positions like a field manager or a harvest manager.
CA GROWN: What drew you into the farming profession?
Tim: In our family, we always worked. So when I was 11 years old, I started going to work with my dad and did different jobs as I grew up. I always wanted to contribute to the family business. I used to love to come with my dad and I loved what was going on and I liked the excitement of it. I loved being a part of this family and I love being able to contribute to the family business. My granddaughter wants to come out here and do this now, and whether she continues in the future, I’m not sure. But she likes what we’re doing and likes going to the fields to see the operations and see what we’re growing and she would be the fifth generation if she decided to come into it. I remember being that way when I was her age.
CA GROWN: What has contributed to your long-term success in the past and what are you doing to ensure continued success in the future?
Tim: You have to be in love with doing this, enjoy what you’re doing on a daily basis and really want to do that type of work. Whether it be in farming, packing, shipping, doing sales, accounting, whatever it is, every job is equally important. There’s a lot of things people can do in this business if you’re passionate about it. To be in this business, you also have to be consistent. There’s going to be times when things look bad or you’re losing money or you think to yourself “why am I doing this?” But you always have to look at why you’re doing it, what’s your goal, what are you trying to achieve and stay true to that. If you can do that, then that will give you longevity and the strength to keep this thing going. And the future head of this company isn’t necessarily going to be a biological Baloian, there are other people who are working hard and working their way up in the organization today and they may be the future leaders of this company.
CA GROWN: How does it make you feel to know that your business has been successful through four generations of the Baloian family?
Tim: I’m humbled by that because we haven’t always been successful, we’ve had some difficult times and by the grace of God we’re still in business. I’m very thankful to be in this business and be able to do this kind of work.
CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or pastimes when you’re not working?
Tim: My passion is flying, I love to fly airplanes. So that’s what I do when I’ve got spare time and I do it a lot for business as well. We also farm in Coachella Valley and we’re harvesting in Oxnard, Hollister and Gilroy, so it allows me to get someplace quickly and get back quickly. It’s something I’ve done for a long time because I got my license when I was 19 and I flew for several years, but I had to stop flying because we couldn’t afford it. We were having a tough time in the business at the time, but when I turned 60 I started flying again and I’m very thankful to be able to do that again.