To help get their name out in the community, while also being involved in the community, the Kisers got involved with Farm Bureau on the county level.Read More
As Gary Harrison was growing up and following his father around the farm, he knew farming was the lifestyle he wanted to pursue. Harrison grew up just two miles from Wayne, a small town in Wood County, Ohio. He learned he didn’t have to venture far from where he originally came from to find success doing what he loved and more.
“More than anything my life has been about farming, family and opportunity,” Harrison said.
Today, Harrison and his wife, Cathy, combined own five different businesses: Harrison Farms, Harrison Truck and Body, C&G Transportation, Tri-County Tarp and Country FarmHouse. All of the businesses connect back to agriculture. Together they employ more than 100 people.
“I just knew, as soon as I could think about it, that this [farming] is what I wanted to do,” Harrison said. “Growing up with my three sisters, we all got involved with the 4-H and took market pigs and market steers to the fair, and I helped as much as I could.”
After Harrison’s grandfather passed away at an early age, Harrison’s father, Bill, and uncle, Richard, helped their mother – Harrison’s grandmother – manage the family dairy farm. They did not realize at the time that this would initiate the succession of the family farm.
“I guess Grandma was the only one who liked the cows, because it was a lot of work,” Harrison said with a laugh. “So, the cows went by the wayside in the early 1950s.”
The two brothers continued to produce grain crops and raised some livestock, including beef cattle, hogs and chickens. While he was helping his dad and uncle farm, Harrison rented his first piece of land when he was a senior in high school. In 1979, Harrison’s uncle died, unexpectedly, of a massive heart attack at the age of 49.
“That was such a change in the operation, the swine market was kind of in the pits, so we sold all the sows,” Harrison said. “My dad bought a semi to haul grain, because wagons were becoming a thing of the past. He drove trucks between planting and harvest seasons.”
In 1981, Harrison followed his dad’s lead and bought his own truck and started driving in the off-season as a source of additional income.
“One truck turned into two, and then three and then five,” Harrison said. “And today we have around 65 trucks.”
Harrison needed a grain hopper because of the farm, and he needed a grain hauler because they haul their own grain. Suddenly one thing led to another and now they have four divisions in their trucking company.
“We have a flatbed steel division, a grain hopper division, an end-dump division and a detach division,” Harrison said. “When we have all of our trucks running, it’s a struggle to get any of them to come home at harvest time to help me because they are all busy.”
In 2018, Harrison became owner of Tri-County Tarp when the previous owner, who Harrison had farmed a piece of land for, for 20 years, passed away. Harrison found the unexpected opportunity to run the tarp business actually fit perfectly into his business mix.
“All of these grain trailers needed a tarp to keep the load dry, and all the steel trucks have a Conestoga sliding system or a sidekit to cover the load,” Harrison said. “That’s everything Tri-County Tarp makes.”
Aside from farming and family, there are two things that are most important to Harrison: working hard and having fun. Throughout the years, Harrison’s progressive farming practices, industry partnerships and dedication have ensured his farming operation is successful for generations to come.
“The farm is the foundation of everything,” Harrison said. “But as I’ve had opportunities present themselves, I have tried to capitalize on them.”
Harrison, with the help of his family, farms 4,600 acres of corn and soybeans. Harrison has eight children or step-children, five of whom work within the family businesses. His son, Travis, is Harrison’s right-hand man on the farm.
Having a solid family support system proved to be particularly important in October 2021, when Harrison fell off the top of a grain dryer, breaking his shoulder in two places, cracking his head open, and fracturing bones in his back and his hip socket. Since then, he’s made a full-recovery and hasn’t slowed down.
“I still work the ground, market the grain and run the grain dryer. I do it because I can and I enjoy it. I’ve never wavered from what my true love is. All of this other stuff has helped me along the way and has enabled me to be in a position to buy farmland and create opportunities.”
Aside from business ventures, Harrison has also taken advantage of being a member of Farm Bureau and other similar organizations.
Harrison said he’s almost always been a member of Farm Bureau, but there were times throughout the years when he wondered why he paid for the membership and then let it drop.
“As I got older I realized how important some of this stuff is — like being a member of the Farm Bureau, being a member of the Ohio Trucking Association, and others,” Harrison said. “I never really understood the magnitude of what Farm Bureau had done until I became a board member (in Wood County).”
Throughout the years, including during his time on the county Farm Bureau board, Harrison has also been a mentor and agriculture advocate throughout his community.
“Farm Bureau is very important and plays an important role in all lives,” Harrison said. “I attended a legislative event as a board member with all the counties, and it really opened my eyes to all Farm Bureau does.”
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