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Gumz Farms remains a leader in Wisconsin onions and potatoes

By
Keith Loria

Gumz Farms, based in Endeavor, WI, is run by brothers Rod and Richard Gumz, carrying on four generations of family legacy in the potato and onion business. 

The company is a grower/shipper/packer, packing and shipping year-round, growing red and yellow potatoes, and growing and sourcing yellow, white, red and sweet onions. It grows about 40 percent of all onions in Wisconsin, and grows approximately 20 percent of the fresh-market red potatoes.

“I think the consumer values locally-grown, and because of that, business has been good with customers in the Midwest,” said Rod Gumz. “We are optimistic about what’s ahead.”

gumzThe company’s locally-grown products come from the rich, organic muck soils of Wisconsin’s Marquette, Columbia, Sauk and Adams counties. The Gumz’ great grandfather started the business in Indiana in 1892, and the family expanded into Wisconsin in the ’40s.

“Mint was one of the big crops at the time — peppermint and spearmint,” Gumz said. “That was a main crop up until the ’90s. We always had potatoes and onions but we expanded and grew that part of the business over the last 30 years.”

Today, in addition to the potatoes and onions, Gumz Farms also grows carrots, field corn, soybeans and mint.

Since the bulk of the company’s business is in retail, it’s seen an increase in demand at the store level since the onset of pandemic, which has helped business grow. It also recognized some opportunities last year to make improvements and adapt to the current market conditions.

“We took the opportunity last year and expanded our production capabilities,” Gumz said. “We updated and added a couple of machines for packing to handle more capacity and be more responsive for our customers’ needs.”

Right now, Gumz isn’t quite sure what direction has the most opportunity for growth, but all those at the farm are dissecting things closely and will be ready to make the move when it presents itself.

“We’re looking for it and ready for it, and as soon as we can see it, we’re going to act on it,” he said.

That’s been one of the keys to success through the years. Another thing that has helped Gumz Farms continue on a successful path is its attention to the customers’ needs and taking care of its company employees.

“As for the business, we’re trying to maintain quality and our integrity, and being able to supply what the customer wants when they want it,” he said. “We put a priority on our customers and when you have good communication of what they are looking for, or how we can help them, that has been beneficial for us.”

Gumz Farms knows it has a lot of good people working for it and they value those who have integrity and want to be a part of the team long-term.

“We’re not in the business to be here today and gone tomorrow, or just make it for another year, we’re looking 10, 20 years down the road with people, equipment and reputation,” Gumz said. “We’re trying to build a business, not just rest on our past success.”

Those at Gumz Farms also do their part to give back to the industry, with leaders part of the National Onion Association, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, the Wisconsin Mint Growers Association and many more.

“These associations thrive on volunteers and it’s rewarding to those who give up their time and I encourage anyone to give back to the industry that has given so much to us,” Gumz said.

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