The farmer CEO: How Josh Harris balances work, family, and farming

By Gene Galin

Siler City, NC – In my conversation with Josh Harris, CEO of the Siler Area Chamber of Commerce, a range of topics were explored, from family dynamics to balancing multiple responsibilities and the evolving landscape of career opportunities for young people. Harris, known for his personable demeanor and dedication to community development, shared insights into his personal journey and the vision he holds for the chamber and the broader Siler City area. [This is Part 3 of a three part conversation]

A Supportive Partnership

Harris, reflecting on his transition to the role of CEO, emphasized the importance of family support. Recounting conversations with his wife about career changes, he highlighted the collaborative nature of decision-making within their household. “It was a pros and cons thing,” Harris explained, “weighing both sides of it, and our family is most important to us.” This sentiment seems to underscore the significance of familial relationships and their role in shaping professional pursuits.

Influence of Role Models

Discussing the influence of his parents, Harris noted his father’s impact on his approach to challenges. Drawing from his father’s business acumen, gained from experience in textiles, Harris spoke of their collaborative dynamic, where ideas are exchanged freely. “He challenges me a lot on stuff and helps me think through things a lot too,” Harris shared, highlighting the invaluable guidance provided by his father.

Lessons in Resilience

Reflecting on personal challenges and setbacks, Harris shared a formative experience from his collegiate years, where an injury prompted a shift in perspective. He recalled reading “Who Moved My Cheese?” during his recovery, a book that catalyzed a change in mindset. “It had a big impact on me being able to say, ‘Okay, this situation just isn’t there anymore, so now I need to go find… the next path,'” Harris reflected. This anecdote underscores the importance of adaptability and resilience in navigating life’s unexpected twists.

Balancing Act: Work, Family, and Farming

As both CEO of the chamber and a farmer, Harris faces the challenge of balancing multiple responsibilities. Yet, he embraces the workload with enthusiasm, emphasizing the intrinsic rewards of meaningful work. Harris’s approach to farming reflects a commitment to sustainability and holistic land management practices. By prioritizing soil health and rotational grazing, Harris ensures the long-term viability of his farm while contributing to environmental stewardship.

Empowering Youth: Pathways Beyond High School

In discussing the future of education and career pathways, Harris emphasized the importance of aligning opportunities with individual passions. He advocated for a personalized approach to education, one that empowers students to pursue their interests and develop practical skills. Harris highlighted the role of community colleges in providing accessible, career-focused education, underscoring the diverse opportunities available to young people in the evolving job market.

Looking Ahead: Chamber Initiatives and Community Engagement

Looking to the future, Harris outlined initiatives aimed at fostering community engagement and economic growth. From networking events like “Wake Up Wednesday” to job and career fairs, the chamber is committed to facilitating connections and supporting local businesses. Harris expressed optimism about the region’s economic prospects, citing the growth of industries like biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

Nurturing Connections and Driving Progress

As my conversation with Josh Harris drew to a close, it became evident that his leadership is defined by a deep commitment to community and collaboration. From family values to sustainable farming practices, Harris’s approach to life and work reflects a vision rooted in resilience and empowerment. As CEO of the Siler Area Chamber of Commerce, Harris is dedicated to driving progress and fostering meaningful connections that will shape the future of Siler City and beyond.

Watch on YouTube Part 3 Conversation with Siler Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Josh Harris – 4.17.24

00:15 Balancing family and career decisions

  • Discussing the pros and cons of taking on the new position with his wife.
  • Considering the time benefits for their family in making the decision.

02:35 Transition to CEO role and family support

  • Parents supportive of CEO role, dad a key role model and resource in business decisions
  • Received advice to maintain class and competitiveness from dad, perspective change due to injury and book recommendation ‘Who Moved My Cheese’

05:12 Embrace change and adapt for success

  • Key is to improvise and overcome challenges
  • Believe in trying new things, making adjustments, and continuous improvement

07:14 Balancing work, farm, and family life

  • Enjoying work and finding it rewarding, with a focus on growth and community involvement
  • Successfully managing farm operations with a direct marketing approach and utilizing digital platforms for sales and outreach.

09:43 Building resilience through regenerative agriculture practices

  • Engaging in a partnership and constant communication with the Siler Area Chamber of Commerce for mutual benefit, with open dialogue and idea-sharing.
  • Implementing regenerative agriculture practices to improve soil health, leading to healthier plants, animals, and humans, and building resilience on the farm.

12:11 Discussing the farming practices and joy of watching kids learn and explore

  • Owner explains daily cow movement and paddock setup using polywire and reels in the pasture.
  • Owner shares the joy of watching kids learn, explore, and be creative outdoors for hours.

14:39 Building strong relationships with the business community and educational institutions

  • Established connections with businesses and governing bodies
  • Organized successful job and career fairs to connect high school students with local businesses

17:14 Opportunity for training pathways and coordination with businesses

  • Emphasizes on the importance of training pathways and coordination with businesses to create opportunities for the community.
  • The Siler Area Chamber of Commerce is an invaluable resource that plays a key role in aligning educational programs and courses with the needs of businesses and the community.