HH gives a chance to hardworking youngsters
Martin Všechovský is currently the youngest managing director of a holding company. Recently, he took charge of the Bemagro farm and we were interested in his personality, what this change means to him and how he is doing in this leading position. Therefore, we asked him for an interview and we would now like to introduce you this 28-year-old man, who comes from Klášterec nad Ohří.
Martin, let’s start from the beginning. We know that you studied at the Faculty of Environment. Do ecology, agriculture and relationship with nature accompany you throughout your whole life?
Yes. I grew up in a family with a small farm and a weekend house in the mountains, so I have been very close to nature since my childhood. For this reason, I chose to attend an agriculture high school in Kadaň. In addition to agriculture, I also studied ecology there and it intrigued me. Since I have represented the school in national agriculture contest, I decided to remain in this field during my university studies. I started to study at the Faculty of Environment in Ústí nad Labem and successfully graduated from this university.
Did you have any special focus during the studies?
I did, I studied environmental protection at the bachelor level and during my master’s, I focused on landscape revitalisation.
How did you get to our holding company?
In my senior year at university, I faced the choice of looking for a job in a company more focused on agriculture or in another one more focused on ecology. To make the right decision, I decided to get experience and applied for a job in two completely different companies.
First, I got a two-week internship in a company with a more ecological focus, or a revitalisation direction, namely a surface brown-coal mine Nástup Tušimice - a mining company, where I could use the knowledge from the field of my specialisation. Unfortunately, I knew right on the first day this is not the direction I would like to go. I considered the procedures to be very chaotic and did not relate to the forest revitalisation system of planting trees at equal distances using a string. I got discouraged by this, because I found it not natural, but artificial.
At the same time, the Otročín farm was looking for a new colleague to join the team as a deputy director. The farm caught my eye, so I took a 3-week work tour there. I went through all the departments and tried different activities every week. I milked the cows, chased the cattle, operated the tractor, drove around the fields with agronomist, helped the zootechnicians and the last week, Mr. Tintěra and me went through the management agenda.
What convinced you to stay at the Otročín farm?
I always associated agriculture with rubber boots and hard work, but the Otročín farm did it differently. At that time, it was already part of the holding and was under modernization. Simply, it was significantly different than other farms. I enjoyed it and wanted to be part of such progress of doing it in a different way.
How long did you work at Otročín farm and what were you responsible for?
I worked at the Otročín farm 3.5 years as a Junior Manager. My agenda was diverse spanning from keeping records of the livestock production and land registry to communication with authorities. I was also responsible for common operational matters including personnel recruitment.
Recently, you became the managing director of the Bemagro company and thus the youngest managing director in the whole holding company. What does this progression mean to you?
Being the managing director of a company means, of course, a great commitment, much less being the youngest managing director of the whole holding company. I am very grateful to be able to consult with the directors of the food and agriculture division. I see this as one of the holding advantages.
Your position change is also related to a change of your work location. The Bemagro farm is in southern Bohemia, 250 km from the Otročín farm. Does it mean that you moved for work?
Sure, daily commuting is not possible, I tried it the first moth, before we moved. One trip takes 4 hours. Currently, I live about a minute from the farm, so I save a lot of time, which I can use for work. Nevertheless, moving was one of the decisive factors. I have a family, two-year-old daughter and another family member on the way, so support from my wife was essential.
How do you like it in southern Bohemia?
Bemagro is located at the very foot of the Gratzen Mountains, where the nature is entirely different than what I was used to. Compared to the landscape around Klášterec nad Ohří, where the nature is very affected by the industry, southern Bohemia is charming. I am convinced that the Gratzen Mountains region is suitable for family trips with children. The local landscape is very similar to the Bohemian Forest, only not so well-known to tourists, which is an advantage for local nature.
I have heard you are also a passionate beekeeper. Is it just your hobby or do you also run a business in this field?
It is only my hobby that my grandfather brought me to when I was 12 years old. I helped him to decant honey and then he left me one hive, later two and finally gave me all of them. To do my part, I manually redesigned the bee truck and replaced old hives with brand new ones. Then, I just expanded and expanded. When I had five hives, I wondered why not to have ten, it does not take that much extra time. Soon, 10 hives changed into 20, next year the number reached 30 and today I have four trucks with 45 beehives. However, I probably will have to reduce the number a bit, because it is impossible to combine it with my new position. However, I enjoy beekeeping, I am a beekeeper and intend to remain one. It helps me relax.
What else do you enjoy?
In summer, I like picking mushrooms in the forest. And I also like to do manual work to relax and “turn off my brain”. Another of my hobbies is cooking, which lately had to be put aside. Last but not least, I am a keen tourist, who likes to get to know the beauties of the Bohemian lands.
How do you manage to combine your family life, hobbies and leading position in the company?
Let’s say, we are keeping up well. For example, I often go on land inspections after work and take my daughter with me. We drive on pastures or go for a walk to the calves, where I walk around to check the operation. My family’s heart beats for Bemagro as well as mine.
The Bemagro farm promotes organic farming - harmony between nature and agriculture. What is it about? How do you perceive this value?
We try to work as much as possible in a closed circle, meaning that everything we take from the soil, we return. We intend to invest in the soil, provide it with quality fertilization and we want to compost unused plant residues. Doing the agro-technical measures at the right time is also very important. The high-quality soil will in return offer us quality fodder for our cows. Therefore, the goal is to treat the nature in such way that we can peacefully pass it to future generation in the same or even better state than we took it over.
What are your next plans for the development of the Bemagro farm?
My main task for this year is to set up a team, who will help us to achieve our vision.In the near future, we want to build two functional stables for 400 cows of beef cattle and 400 calves. The Bemagro farm has a large feed base, so we want to take the full advantage of it. The goal is grazing of land from spring to autumn as the weather will allow us. We are going to focus on beef cattle of Limousine breed and will become one of the largest breeders in the Czech Republic. We are adding about 30 pieces of dairy cows to the stables to keep the full count – it means 400 pieces of the basic pack with 340 daily milked dairy cows.
Another task is to adjust our diary portfolio and to streamline the production. We produce about 20 types of organic products. We aim to reduce the range to about 6 types and further improve their quality. The goal is to process about 3.000 litres of organic milk a day.
Another part of the vision is vegetable cultivation, especially organic potatoes, which are to be found on the Czech market only in a very limited quantity.
Furthermore, we would like to carry out on-farm processing of our organic meat, which we will get slaughtered outside the farm and then we will cut it ourselves and let it mature. It will be the top quality meat in a very limited quantity.
How do you like the Bemagro farm?
I do like Bemagro very much, but there is a lot of work ahead. It is completely different from what I was used to in the Otročín farm, where I was able to gain experiences. Nowadays, Bemagro begins to growth and we are doing our best to make Bemagro famous throughout the whole country. I have the honour to be at the beginning of the path, at the beginning of another business as successful as our sister company – my second family – the Otročín farm.
What are the biggest challenges you face at the farm?
Unlike the Otročín farm, which suffers from drought, here, in southern Bohemian, it rains a lot. In 2020, there was too much water even in the fields. When I talked to the locals for the first time, they said: “Such a drought, right?”, so I asked: “How long is it from the last rain?” They responded that it was 5 days already. I just had to laugh, because the Otročín farm is sometimes without the rain for 2 months.