I was born and raised in a small farming community in northwest Minnesota. I graduated from Greenbush High School and continued my education at the University of Minnesota, Crookston campus. I majored in Farm Management, Ag marketing and Ag Aviation. I have been actively involved with production agriculture for 35 years. My first visit to Brazil was in 1994 with a group of producers from Minnesota and North Dakota. I became fascinated in Brazil again in the late 1990s when the American Ag media highlighted the aggressive soybean expansion in Mato Grosso.
In 2001, I joined a progressive group of producers and businessmen on a tour of Mato Grosso. I was blown away at the magnitude of expansion and land clearing that I witnessed. I returned eight times over the next two years looking for opportunities not only for myself but for others that shared the common trait of adventure and being a pioneer in a new land. I grew up clearing and developing land in Minnesota. However, what I saw in Mato Grosso was in a different league. Two D-8 caterpillars could clear 80 acres per day. There were hundreds of crawlers clearing land at the time.
“I realized during my travels there was an information void with regards to accurate/honest on the ground intel from the interior of Brazil. In Brazil the theme is: “When things are good they are beyond fantastic; When things are bad they are worse than terrible.” I was not able to find anyone that was able to filter the facts from the fiction. I decided to form a Blog/website (consulting venue) that would help others interested in Brazil expedite their learning curve. I have had many experiences in Brazil both GOOD and BAD. I have a vast knowledge of the mistakes others have made setting up companies, farms, and cultural misunderstandings that can be of value to newcomers to Brazil. I consider myself a liaison between the North American and Latin America cultures.”
I live in Goiania, Goias with my wife and son. My son now attends Notre Dame University in USA. I am eternally grateful for the quality of education and professors my son had while in Brazil. The dual culture experience of being American and Brazilian was truly an asset for him.
“After living in Brazil for circa twenty years and doing many investor type tours, I have witnessed a common faux paux among North American ideas for a Brazilian operating business model. In many instances, North Americans tend to impose their business model ideas upon Brazilians. In my experience the American business model does not incorporate well with the Brazil operating model. American models focus on competitiveness, results, speed, efficiency, and ROI.
Successful Brazil operating platforms focus on social, environmental and political (who you know) connections.”
“I am not advocating one system over the other; both have merits and flaws.”
"THE POINT I TRY TO MAKE TO NEWCOMERS TO BRAZIL IS THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THIS CULTURAL PREREQUISITE IN ORDER TO HAVE A CHANCE AT SURVIVAL."
“I think the key to successful Brazilian investment is to find synergies with existing Brazilian entities. One must work with and not compete with other Brazilian entities.”
“I have always approached living in Brazil as a privilege. It is their country - not mine. I am a guest here. BEHAVE AND INVEST ACCORDINGLY” I think one must find a common “bond” with local Brazilians. This can come in many forms. Agriculture, Education system, exchange student, church connections, or a common product that has appeal across cultural lines. I was able to form bonds with locals in Mato Grosso because of my experience with clearing and developing ag land in Minnesota. We had a common life story. Over time trust grew and I became part of the family. For new comers to Brazil, one must not only find your niche but also have a team of contacts that one can rely on to help you; not only to learn the language but also help you to solve problems. So many do not realize that in order to finance a new refrigerator at a store one must get a guarantor to vouch for you. If you do not pay, they will go after your contact person."
I have helped close land deals in Mato Grosso of up to US$ 30 million. I also write quarterly reports for investors involved with real estate, corn and soy seed sales, and corn ethanol production in Mato Grosso. I have also provided support to researchers at USDA and Foreign Trade Office. I have also assisted analysts with companies such as John Deere understand the Brazil ag growth potentials in the coming years.
One of my clients has invested upwards of US$ 750 million in corn ethanol mills in Mato Grosso. The expansion continues.
I have done consulting for various hedge funds, private equity and commodity groups. I have also organized and hosted numerous tours through Brazil and Argentina. Tours have ranged from VIP infrastructure tours to curious producers from USA and Canada. I have also assisted journalists from Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wisconsin State Journal, Forth Worth Star Telegram, Los Angeles Times, Virginia Quarterly and US News and World Report.