A good attitude from the top down imparts a successful mind-set for Cassie Lapaseotes.
A good attitude from the top down imparts a successful mind-set for Cassie Lapaseotes.

Note: This story appeared in the April issue of Drovers and is the second part of a three part series. Read part one on "Chasing a Dream."

Riding feedlot pens in the saddle with her mother, 5-year-old Cassie Lapaseotes caught the cattle feeding bug. Even during college, she came back on summer breaks to help at the family feedlot. One day, she dreamed of returning to manage the operation.

“My dad is very forward thinking. He is probably a step ahead of a lot of people—knowing he needs to change to bring us back in,” she says.

Several events fast-forwarded her arrival to the family business. When her grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer, succession planning occurred weekly for six months.

Then her mother died, leaving behind a separate ranch and feedlot enterprise. No plan was set, but her mom was in the process of writing down what she wanted. Lapaseotes and her two siblings decided her sister and brother-in-law would manage the ranch and feedlot her mother owned.

Succession planning “is a tough topic to deal with,” she says. “You have to have the conversation.”

Days before she graduated from Colorado State University, her father’s feedlot manager quit—creating an opening for her to step into.

Before taking the reins, she worked every job in the feedlot from scrubbing tanks to making feed calls. “I worked my way to the top,” she says, adding her father wouldn’t “send a duck to eagle school.”

Now, she manages Lapaseotes Feed Yard near Bridgeport, Neb., overseeing six employees: four in the feedlot and two with the cowherd.

“When I come to work every morning, my attitude and my demeanor reflects on everybody I work with,” she says. It can be a heavy weight on her shoulders, but a positive attitude is crucial to a successful business.

Young farmers can learn business skills from the experts at Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference, June 16-17, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Register at www.TomorrowsTopProducer.com.