Spudman 7: Richard Pavelski
Richard Pavelski is a fourth-generation Wisconsin potato grower. The original family farm in Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, was settled in 1873 by his great- grandfather August Pavelski, after emigrating from Poland.
Following graduation from Pacelli High School in 1967, he joined the family farming operation. The farm has grown from 550 acres in 1967 to 22,000 acres, with more than $55 million in annual sales.
He has consulted on potato production and storage projects in the United Kingdom, Poland and Russia. He also partnered with a Michigan potato grower to start and operate a 7,000-acre potato farm in Mexico, from 1997 to 2003.
He and his wife, Barbara, are the parents of Michelle, Andria and Jeremie and have three grandchildren.
What are the best words of advice you’ve received?
Things are very rarely what they seem at first impression, and be very slow to criticize others until you have walked in their shoes.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
I plan on continuing to mentor the next generation in the businesses we have built. Our organizations are currently building and will be moving into a new Farm Operations, Technology, and Training Center.” The goal of the facility is to streamline communications, train our great people on new technology and best industry practices, develop technology in-house and ensure we can be as efficient as possible.
What do you do to relax?
I have grown very fond of cruising around the world with my wife, children and grandchildren. History is a passion of mine, and being able to learn about history in real life by visiting places is exciting.
What would you like to be your lasting legacy?
I hope my lasting legacy will be having my children, grandchildren and others I have worked with be happy and healthy.
I would also like to build a center to help teach people about the importance, complexity, opportunities and realities of farming.
What job or work would you have pursued if you had not become involved in the potato industry?
I was an agricultural inputs supplier in the ’80s, alongside of the family farm. I really enjoyed the challenges of that and the technology involved. I have also had a passion for banking. Banking has the ability to help people pursue their dreams, and being a part of that is very rewarding.
What are three things on your bucket/must do list?
1. I would like to travel more of North America up close. Over the next couple years, I am going to focus on that. The United States has great history and geologic features I would like to see and learn about.
2. I also want to continue to travel the world.
3. Lastly, I like meeting and working with good people, many of whom have become good friends. I am enthusiastic about learning how other people think and analyze situations, so it is very rewarding. I like to say I finally have the time and resources to only invest in companies I truly enjoy working with, and partnering with the people of that organization.
What is the one truth you have learned about the potato industry?
Opportunities presented by the potato industry are nearly endless if you enjoy what you are doing and if you enjoy the people you are working with.