Nick grew up in northern Illinois. While his father owned an electrical contracting firm that had been passed down for generations and most of his brothers were involved in, Nick wanted a different path. He dreamed of farming. Nick’s passion for animals started early. From his younger years to adult years he gained experience by working with horses and cattle, something that came naturally to him.
He found out about our school on the radio while getting his undergraduate degree at UW-Whitewater in Communications and Environmental Sciences. He was able to use the credits he got at UW-Madison towards his degree at Whitewater. After he graduated from our class in 2013 he started working full time for Altfrid Krusenbaum (an Organic Valley dairy farmer) who recently retired from farming.
At the same time he was working for Altfrid, Nick connected with an older farmer in the area who was looking to rent some of his land and could lend his baler and help Nick make hay. Nick jumped on the opportunity to get some young steers and grow a small amount of hay on his own, while helping this older farmer manage his farm and cut and bale his hay.
“Leasing or renting land and/or equipment helped me stay flexible in my new business and actually make money the first 2 years,” says Nick. “A good mentor is necessary for success!” This older farmer was able to give Nick a better price on hay and a lower lease rate because Nick was helping him out and he wanted to help Nick get started and see him succeed. At the end of the year, when Nick’s cattle were sold, he was able to pay the older farmer a percentage of his proceeds – they had struck a deal and they were in it together.
This is a somewhat typical story – especially for young farmers who don’t come from a farming family and are struggling to find their way in the farming world that they are not already a part of. Nick was searching for someone to take him under his wing, like one of his own kids, show him the ropes and cut him a few breaks so he could get on his feet… and it worked!
Nick is putting his grass-fed beef business on hold for a few years, starting in 2016, when he takes up employment together with his brother in other agricultural opportunities. Nick plans to come back to his dream, buy some land of his own and make Sergi Farms bigger and better than before.