Fourth generation bites into family businessWritten by Colleen Kennedy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For Zach MacQueen, it’s true the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
As assistant operation manager for MacQueen Orchard, Inc., MacQueen, 23, is the fourth generation to work for the family business. The Holland orchard, which began in 1936 as 10-acres of apple trees planted by great-grandparents Hugh and Martha MacQueen, has grown to 180 acres and supplies apples for local companies like the Andersons, Churchill’s and Monnette’s Market as well as national chains like Wal-Mart and Save-A-Lot.
After graduating from St. John’s Jesuit in 2005, MacQueen set his sights on majoring in construction management at the Ohio State University but later changed his mind.
“I had a couple good internships but those really made me feel that I didn’t want to do construction,” MacQueen said. “But I was so far into my major though, that there was really no turning back.”
Like most soon-to-be college graduates, MacQueen searched for jobs within his major. He graduated in June of 2009 with a bachelor of science in agriculture, with a focus on construction management, and a minor in business. But after a less-than-successful job hunt and no desire to relocate, MacQueen said he re-evaluated his goals.
“I sat down with my parents and told them I thought I’d be a good fit here,” MacQueen said. “At first they were hesitant and said they didn’t want me spinning my tires working here if it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Now that I am here, I think they’re happy.”
Since beginning to work full time at the orchard, MacQueen said he’s learned there’s more to the family business than just growing apples. He has also realized that his degree is more useful than he initially thought. Many of his college courses, such as scheduling and operation management, go “hand in hand with what goes on in this building everyday,” he said.
Daily tasks include everything from product packaging to making the occasional batch of cider. MacQueen said he typically works forty-hour weeks but that number doubles from August to November during the harvesting. But MacQueen said the workload hasn’t bothered him, not even before he was receiving paychecks for his labor.
MacQueen said, “Even in high school when I didn’t work here, I would come home and drive through just to say hi to my dad and he’d say ‘Hey why don’t you give me a hand…’ and because it’s your family you’re immediately put to work and would be stuck for another couple hours.”
His early involvement is what MacQueen said fostered his love for the orchard and working outdoors. Some of his earliest memories, he said, include the orchard and involve him riding in a tractor alongside his father or falling off his bike in the market’s parking lot.
“I never thought anything of it but I guess it is kinda cool,” MacQueen said. “Growing up here was awesome; I think that’s why I’m so attached to the place. I’ve always been an outdoor kid and here I’m outside all the time.”
MacQueen said he doesn’t plan on returning to school to study horticulture because everything he’ll need to know in the future can be learned through hands on experience at the orchard. He said seeing his family all-day every day hasn’t bothered him and he still finds time to hang out with friends on the weekends.
Though he won’t gain complete control for quite some time, as both his grandfather, Robert, and father, Jeff, are still heavily involved in the orchard’s operation, MacQueen said he looks forward to learning more and being able to continue the work his family initiated.
“I’d like to move forward with my dad’s high density planting and every year increase our yield and be able to sell more product,” MacQueen said. “I’ll be working here for as long as I enjoy it. Before, everything I was doing felt like work and here it doesn’t.”
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