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The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce

March 2, 2017 - 9:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Stein Farms, The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

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To fully understand the ongoing success of the family owned, environmentally conscious Stein Farms on Gully Road in the Town of Le Roy, one needs to comprehend the meaning of a famous quote by Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

While many people – the Stein family members and 21 dedicated employees – use their particular talents and skills in a variety of ways, it’s the collective synergy that has enabled Stein Farms to survive and thrive for more than 60 years.

When taking a closer look at Stein Farms, which has been selected by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce as the Agricultural Business of the Year for 2016, it is clear to see how the Greek philosopher’s axiom applies.

The connection among the workers on the 2,500-acre dairy farm that milks more than 900 cows has produced a total effect even greater than what each one could produce individually.

“Ours is one of a number of multigeneration farm families in our county, and that’s why they are successful,” said Dale Stein, who owns the farm along with his son, Nate, 35; his brother, Ray, and Ray’s children, Jerrod, 31, and Natasha Sutherland, 33.

“We want to make it enjoyable for the kids to have a good life – family life, not just work – and we are dedicated to preserving the environment. We want to be known as people who care.”

In her nomination letter to the Chamber’s selection committee (the awards ceremony is set for March 4 at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road), Hiedi Librock, of Darien, pointed out the family’s commitment to environmental stewardship, viable employment practices, compassionate animal care, civic and community involvement, and event sponsorship in the Le Roy area.

She also mentioned Stein Farms’ recent $1 million expansion – the Steins also tend to more than 1,000 young stock – and attributed its progress to a decision made in the early years to adopt a dual cropping system that includes fall-planted triticale (a wheat/hay hybrid) for spring silage.

Stein Farms was founded in 1956 by Louis “Bud” and Jane Stein, who took over a former Curtice-Burns farm located next to Oatka Creek and just a couple miles from the Monroe County line. Louis passed away in 2007; Jane resides in Florida.

“Dale and Ray are the second generation, and Nate, Natasha and I are the third generation, coming back to the farm after trying other things,” said Jerrod, who returned to the fold about 10 years ago. “We went out to see what the world is really like … being the low man on the totem pole and seeing the way people were treated.”

Jerrod’s uncle, Ken, also was a co-owner until his death in August 2015.

Each of the owners has specific responsibilities, but is versatile enough to fill in the gaps when necessary, Jerrod said.

Jerrod’s forte is machinery maintenance, keeping the field operations going and overseeing the crew during planting and harvest seasons.

“We have three or four full-time employees on this side of the road and hire three or four retired guys for chopping,” he said.

Dale’s primary task – and a big one at that – is to feed the cows and keep that part of the farm running, which means being on the job six days a week to make sure the cow-milking machinery is working properly.

He also has been the chairman of the New York State Soil & Water Conservation Committee for more than a decade, leading a group that facilitates grants to help farmers implement programs to preserve the environment.

Ray’s main focus is ensuring a bountiful crop as 1,200 acres are used to grow corn for the cows and another 900 acres for hay seedings.

Rochelle Stein, Ray’s wife, who is well-known for her role as a Genesee County legislator, representing District 5 (Town of Le Roy), and Natasha's husband, Richard, also work with the ownership team.

Natasha’s area of expertise is on the health of the nearly 2,000 cows and young stock in the barns, a time-consuming chore that includes interaction with veterinarians and keeping up with the latest technology.

She is a former co-chair of Young Farmers and Ranchers and liaison to the Dairy Farmers of America.

And last but not least, Nate, a Leadership Genesee graduate, can be found handling the feeding duties on Dale’s days off, cleaning the barns, hauling manure, monitoring the separation system, etc., etc.

“Nate is a jack-of-all-trades,” Jerrod said. “He can do it all.”

The entire family hosted a “Field to Fork Feast” in September 2015, a high-end dinner event to help the Town of Le Roy generate funds as part of the America’s Best Communities revitalization competition.

And they are unwavering in their pursuit of maintaining the water quality of Oatka Creek, which features public trout fishing about 300 yards upstream from the farm.

“We get a lot of fishermen here. It gives us an incentive to make sure we are doing things right,” Dale said.

Jerrod and Dale said they are confident the operation will continue for many years, noting that Natasha’s children, Daniel, 4, and Lockwood, 3; Nate’s child, Lucas, almost 2; and Dale’s daughter Casey’s child, Zoey, 4, already are learning the ins-and-outs of farm living.

“The three boys go like crazy,” Dale said. “When they see a tractor, they have to be on it.”

Top photo: Richard Sutherland, left, Jerrod Stein, Natasha Sutherland, Nathan Stein, and back row, Ray Stein, Dale Stein. (Photos by Howard Owens.)

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March 1, 2017 - 6:13pm

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Looking back at his formative years, lifelong Batavian Steve “Stump” Grice said the time invested by his buddies’ parents left a lasting impression and helped set him on a course of civic and charitable volunteerism.

“For me, I grew up doing sports and events, and was part of the Ellicott Avenue crew,” Grice said. “I noticed that the fathers of the kids that I hung out with were coaching us, and when I was done with college, I started coaching football.

“Then I got pulled in more and more, and it just kind of clicked. (Volunteering) is like paying a tab … honoring those before us.”

Steve’s wife, the former Lisa Grasso, said was introduced to community service as a Girl Scout and “junior fireman” while growing up in Cheektowaga.

“And after that, when we had our boys (Alex, 24, a special education teacher at Oakfield-Alabama Central School, and Casey, 21, a junior at Brockport State College majoring in Therapeutic Recreation for special needs persons), I started getting involved here,” she said.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Grices have made a tremendous impact upon organizations ranging from Batavia Youth Football to the John Kennedy Home School Association to Genesee Cancer Assistance to the Genesee County/City Youth Bureau to the Batavia Rotary Club to the Genesee County Volunteer Service Tuition Program.

For their efforts, Steve and Lisa have been selected as Geneseeans of the Year by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and will be honored at the 45th annual awards ceremony on March 4 at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road.

They were nominated by Chris Suozzi, who serves with Steve on the Board of Directors of Genesee Cancer Assistance.

“I am nominating Steve and Lisa for their combined volunteer efforts to the community for decades. Their tireless efforts go unnoticed and I feel it’s time for us to reward them!”

Both Steve and Lisa, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last Nov. 2, will tell you that the reward is in doing what needs to be done to ensure that a particular organization reaches its goals.

“The satisfaction comes from the end result … knowing that you’ve accomplished something for the community,” Steve said during an interview at their Chase Park home. “Knowing what the dollar amount (raised) means, and that we had goals and hit those goals.

Steve said he was notified of the award on “Friday the 13th” (of January) during a phone call from Mary Blevins, a member of the selection committee.

“At first, I was thinking it was a joke. I was speechless,” Steve said. “When Mary asked me if I wanted to tell my wife or if I wanted her to do it, I said, ‘You better, she won’t believe me.' ”

Lisa said they are humbled by the recognition but admits to being a bit nervous about having to deliver a speech.

“I like to stay behind the scenes,” she said, noting that Steve is the “out-front person” and she handles the duo’s administrative and organizational responsibilities.

Her volunteer resume includes concession stand work for Batavia’s youth baseball leagues, fundraising for the Batavia Basketball Boosters, coordinating the JK Home School Association’s pasta night dinner for seven years through 2007, scheduling and bookkeeping for Batavia Youth Football, serving on the Batavia City Youth Bureau board for four years, assisting the Rotary Club’s Oktoberfest and directing the county volunteer tuition program since 1995.

“I really enjoyed the pasta dinners at JK, especially seeing the dads and moms as waiters and waitresses, and seeing all the kids who wanted to help,” said Lisa, a 28-year Genesee County employee who has served as principal clerk at the highway department for the past four years.

Steve has been involved with Batavia Youth Football for 30 years, has been a Rotarian for 19 years – he is a former Paul Harris Fellow Award winner – and has been with Genesee Cancer Assistance for 15 years -- six of those as a board member. He also coached youth baseball, volunteered for the Michael Napoleone Foundation and rang the bell for the Salvation Army.

A deputy clerk in the Genesee County clerk’s office following a 29-year career in the real estate title insurance/abstract profession, Steve was the Genesee County Adult Volunteer of the Year in 2013 and the City of Batavia Volunteer of the Year in 2014.

He credited his mentor, the late Joe Gerace, with “getting me into a lot of things” and was fortunate to spend time with Gerace.

“We became family,” he said.

Steve said he was glad to see that Gerace, who passed away last November, stayed involved with Genesee Cancer Assistance right to the end.

“Joe was the co-chair of our golf tournament last August, so we had all of our meetings at the VA (Medical Center) every Wednesday so he could continue to be a part of it,” Steve said. “And he made it to the tournament -- ran his putting contest and visited everyone riding on the golf cart.”

March 27, 2014 - 3:00pm
It’s been a long cold winter and now it’s time to “think spring.” And there’s no way better way to beat those long winter blues than by attending the first annual Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Home Show. The all new Home Show will be held at Falleti Ice Arena in Batavia Friday through Sunday, March 28-30.
 
Here’s your chance to talk face to face with one of the 57 area businesses attending this year’s Home Show for help with your home ideas and projects. And while you’re there, make sure you register for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate from the Home Show vendor business of your choice. The winner will be drawn at the conclusion of the Home Show and you do not need to be present to win.
 
The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Home Show will be open Friday, March 28 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And if you’re hungry, the concessions are being run by Alex’s Place, so you know the food will be excellent!
 
Admission is only $3 per person and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is free at the Falleti Ice Arena. Coupons good for $1 off all admissions are available at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office, 210 E. Main St., Batavia, or at any of the participating businesses. For a complete list of participating businesses go to www.geneseeny.com/homeshow. For more information, call the Chamber office at 343-7440.
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