After 52 years of service at Farm Supply Co., including 47 years at the helm, Jim Brabeck will be handing over the leadership reins to 20-year employee Cara Crye.
Crye, who started her career at the age of 19 at Farm Supply while still studying agricultural science at Cal Poly, has been named the new president and CEO of the San Luis Obispo-based farmer-owned cooperative, which has about 2,600 members.
Farm Supply’s board of directors unanimously selected Crye, who will take over when Brabeck retires June 30. The company released the announcement publicly Wednesday.
“There was never a day in my 52 years that I didn’t want to go to work,” said Brabeck, 74. “This has been a way of life. ... The company will have a seamless transition with Cara taking over. She’s very passionate about what she does.”
Brabeck will serve in a three-year term as an outside director to the board, starting July 1.
There was never a day in my 52 years that I didn’t want to go to work.
The agricultural supply store offers a variety of farm and ranch supplies, from feed to cowboy boots, at five locations in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria and Buellton. It is headquartered in San Luis Obispo and has about 110 employees.
The company is 100 percent shareholder-owned and offers membership to any “individual or business with a percentage of income derived from a consumable produce (livestock, fruits or vegetables).”
Crye, 39, began working as a part-time salesperson in 1996. After graduating from Cal Poly with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science and a minor in ag business/communications, she took on the role of marketing coordinator at Farm Supply, a job she held until 2015, when she became vice president of communications.
Crye said she has worked closely with all of the branches of the company and believes the cooperative nature of the company has helped it grow and evolve in step with the industry.
I hope to carry on the Farm Supply culture and the success that it has had in the community.
“I’ve learned a lot from Jim and former CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Karen Ellsworth (who retired last year after 40 years with the company) about retail business, buying and selling,” Crye said. “I’ve also learned and have enjoyed working with our members, employees and the community. I hope to carry on the Farm Supply culture and the success that it has had in the community.”
Crye, a Morro Bay native, is a fourth-generation member of a local agricultural family. She said she grew up going to Farm Supply to buy products for her family.
She has also served on the board or committee of 11 local and statewide organizations, including the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, Agricultural Education and Future Farmers of America. She was named a Tribune Top 20 Under 40 award winner last year for demonstrating excellence in her profession and a profound commitment to community service.
“For all of us, Jim Brabeck embodies dependability and trust, and we are excited to be transitioning to someone else we’ve known,” board Chairman Chris Darway said in a statement. “Cara is family to us, and has always demonstrated a strong work ethic and a passion for taking care of all members of the Farm Supply community.”
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