Breeders Connection 2019: Schuppe Strong– Six generations help build Colorado’s ag industry
December 21, 2018
When the first generation of the Schuppe family first migrated to Colorado from Russia in 1914, they had only the shirts on their backs. They had no idea the agriculture operation they founded would later become such a well-known and respected name in the area.
The Schuppe operation has grown immensely over the years, now encompassing many sectors of the agriculture industry, including cattle, hay, excavation and even a feed and seed business.
With that list of businesses, it is no surprise a small army of Schuppes spanning six generations built this multi-tiered operation. Gordon and Earline run a herd of roughly 250 cow-calf pairs; their son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Kammy, handle the hay operations; and their grandson and his wife, Dalton and Meagan, spend their time managing the excavation business. In their spare time, Kammy and Meagan also run Elite Ag, the family's feed and seed business.
Gordon and Earline are the third generation of Schuppe's to call Iliff home. With years of experience under their belts, neither Gordon or Earline are strangers to the beef industry.
Gordon grew up showing cattle through 4-H and FFA but started his own herd after graduating high school. He has been in the beef industry for the past 40 years, 27 of which featured his own bull sale.
While Gordon says it's now time to slow down and will no longer be having bull sales, he certainly has not lost his passion for the Lim-Flex breed. These registered cattle are Limousin-Angus hybrids and find success in both commercial and seedstock operations. Lim-Flex cattle can be anywhere between 25-75 percent Limousin or Angus, and Gordon believes they combine the best traits of each breed.
"The black hide was pretty important and the Limousin cattle needed a little marbling added to them," Gordon says.
Earline says despite not coming from an agriculture background, she has developed her own love for the cattle. She plays a vital role during calving season and manages all the bookwork of running a large registered herd.
While they might not host a bull sale in future years, Gordon and Earline still grow their calves on silage-ground alfalfa and corn before taking them to auction. Nowadays, if the pair aren't chasing after their calves, they can be found trying to wrangle their great-grandchildren. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
Growing up around a father with a love for cattle, Mike says he practically fell into hay business. Mike was raised showing cattle but found his own passion for agriculture after purchasing land in his mid-20s. He jokingly credits his success with the hay company to his father's hungry cattle.
While helping manage the upkeep of property, Gordon and Earline's grandson Dalton says he found himself behind the controls of a track hoe. The community around the Schuppe farm noticed Dalton's new acquisition, and he says the phone started ringing non-stop.
For the past five years, Dalton's duties with SNS Excavating have ranged from hauling gravel to tearing up trees.
"Our boys love to have lots of jobs," Meagan says about the vast array of businesses under the family name. While the men stay busy with their own tasks, Meagan and Kammy have spent the past year running Elite Ag, the family's feed and seed business.
While the Schuppes had been dabbling in agriculture equipment and products since day one, Kammy says the business is "a nice umbrella to put everything under."
Both women admit that, while Elite Ag was not a part of the original plan, it has become an integral part of the family business. The business has become just another way for future members of the Schuppe clan to continue to find their place in Iliff.
"There's a reason six generations have stayed here," Mike says, looking back at the family's time in the community.
Every member of the family aims to carry on the tradition of serving as advocates for the agriculture industry, titles Mike says they are proud to hold.
While all the Schuppes agree neither the excavation services nor Elite Ag were ever a part of their original plan, the family has turned every opportunity into a success story.
"God's brought a lot of things our way, and we've just hopped on board," Kammy says. "We take what comes our way to help prepare for the future of the next generation."
Mike believes working so closely with his family is one of the reasons he has fallen in love with the agriculture industry.
He is grateful for the unique opportunity not only to have grown up in the family business, but to help ensure his children and grandchildren are raised with the same morals and life lessons.
Kammy says the family bond they have is indescribable. She feels blessed to have watched generation after generation share the same love for the industry.
Dalton believes working together with the rest of his family has strengthened their overall operation, but there are some challenges to working so closely with relatives. He says there are always days where little disagreements pop up.
"But it's only an issue if you make it an issue," he says. With good communication and a desire to constantly be improving, Dalton says his family is always able to work through their arguments and grow as a unit.
While carrying on the family tradition is a large reason so many generations of the Schuppe family tree have decided to call Illif home, Dalton says more than just obligation keeps him a part of the family operation.
Dalton strives to continue the family legacy, waking up every day and taking as much pride in his work as his great-grandfather did.
"If he was still driving around, I'd want him to look at what I'm doing, just shake his head yes and keep driving," Dalton says.
Looking down on the operation Gordon, Earline, Mike, Kammy, Dalton and Meagan have grown, there's no doubt he would do exactly that.