Lloyd Cross wins Prescott County Soil and Crop Improvement Association Award of Merit
Lloyd Cross was the recipient of the Prescott County Soil and Crop Improvement Association Award of Merit. The award was presented at the Prescott County Agricultural Gala which took place October 20 at the Vankleek Hill fairgrounds hall.
Cecil Cass spoke about Lloyd Cross' life at the gala. Here is that speech in almost its complete entirety.
"Lloyd Cross is described as being first and foremost a farmer who grew up learning from and working alongside his father for many years. Following his graduation from Kemptville College in 1967, Cross did custom corn picking around the community for a year before starting his own cash crop business. On May 1, 1968, the day after Cross' 21st birthday, he entered into a cash crop business with Reg Wylie and Ken Howes. They rented 500 acres of land and planted corn that year. That fall the trio added the corn dryer, bins and the unisystem to harvest the crop. This way they could custom dry corn in addition to filling silos all over the countryside. In 1969, Cross was working with Carl Byers who had put up a new silo. Byers needed a conveyor system for the new silo. They called the Patz dealer in Maxville at the time to come out and price the work, a territory representative came instead. That is when Cross asked the representative if he could become a Patz Dealer. The answer was a yes and Carl Byers was Lloyd Cross' first customer, followed by Ian Marston and Ron and Gloria Barton, who also bought silo unloaders shortly thereafter.
In 1971 Lloyd began doing a cash crop business on his own. That same year he married a Navan girl named Joyce Griffith. She had grown up on a beef farm and as a wedding present from her father they received the pick of his herd. In just five years, Joyce had used that one heifer to grow that beef business into 200 head of livestock and all the while, they still had the remnants of Cross' father's dairy herd, the cash crop and custom business, a growing equipment business and three young daughters.
Lloyd Cross had always been a hands-on guy, working alongside the hired men in the hay mow stacking bales, out in the field picking stones or shovelling out stalls in the barn. But a serious tractor accident in 1975 made it impossible for him to do the physical labour he was accustomed to doing. He finally decided to have an auction where he sold the dairy and beef animals and cash crop machinery and started to focus on the equipment business full time.
Lloyd Cross Sales & Service began in 1971. During that year on a trip to Western Ontario, Lloyd went to visit Wilmer Smale, whom he'd seen at trade shows around the area. Lloyd asked Wilmer how many gates he would need to sell to make it worth Wilmer's time for him to be a dealer for Smale. Wilmer's response was, "One." From that day on Lloyd had the same approach to business - it didn't matter how much or how little of a project you wanted him to take on -- he was happy and willing to do it. In the beginning, Lloyd used to go and visit people about buying a silo and unloader and up until 1976 if you didn't buy the equipment from him, he'd still love to come to fill your silo.
In 1979 Patz developed the first ring drive silo unloader. It was quite a development in the farming industry and Cross sold quite a number of them. The equipment had been winter tested in temperatures of down to -30 degrees. However on Sunday, January 1, 1980 the temperature dropped to -40 degrees! None of the motors would start because the oil was too thick and they kept resetting themselves. On that New Year's Day, Lloyd Cross and his brother Barry worked from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. when Barry had to leave to take care of his children as his wife at the time had to go to work. At that point Lloyd went home and got his oldest two children (Carolyn and Jennifer, nine and seven at the time) and took them with him for the rest of the day to finish the service calls. They didn't return home that night until after 7 p.m. They went from farm to farm making sure all the farmers had feed for their cows for the night. He couldn't quit until he had checked in on every one of them. He understood that cows could miss a feed and still be okay but their milk production would drop and once that happened it was impossible to return it to previous levels.... Lloyd was, after all, first and foremost a farmer.
A few years later when Lloyd's children were a bit older, John Allen called at about 9:30 p.m. one Saturday night. He said that the air hose was off the cylinder in his manure tank.
Lloyd Cross asked, "Do you want to fix it tonight or at 4 a.m. Sunday morning?" Allen chose early Sunday morning - so Lloyd arrived at Allensite farms at 4 a.m., went inside the underground manure system using a ladder and a fan to make sure he had fresh air to breathe, put the hose back on and then he hurried home to shower because he had to have the girls in Lachute to meet the ski team at 7a.m. Lloyd tried hard to juggle both the business and his family commitments.
Lloyd's business has constantly evolved to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the farming community.
In early 2000 the mad cow disease hit the beef industry quite hard. Lloyd had to look for other means of support and that meant finding other things to sell. At this time he added Ventrac tractors and GGS buildings to the sales line. When U.S. dollar rates went to $1.40, Lloyd started seeking out other Canadian manufacturers. High Hog from Alberta offered cattle handling systems and Bodco (today known as Jamesway) offered a line of barn cleaners and manure handling systems made in Canada.
Over the years Lloyd has aimed to provide a high level of service. This commitment to service manages to get people's animals fed and barns cleaned regardless of the time of day, the weather, or holiday.
As Lloyd's business has progressed into a full-time equipment business, over the years he has had and still has very dedicated crews that make sure his shop is open on Saturday mornings and holiday Mondays to try and maintain the same commitment to service that he started out with and that the farmers have grown to rely on over the years. Presently, it is Connie who answers the after-hours calls and sends out the crews to get the problem solved. Still, if no one is available, Lloyd takes it upon himself to help.
In 1996 Lloyd moved to Wendover with his new partner in life, Rejeanne who worked at the University of Ottawa, until retiring recently. Some of the service calls Lloyd has gotten involved with over the years, have been not the cleanest or sweet-smelling to say the least. It is not uncommon for him to have to get undressed in the garage before being let into the house. Rejeanne may not understand the farm and his deep commitment to his customers in the same way Lloyd does but she has opened his eyes to taking a bit of time for himself to travel and see the world. Otherwise he may be more inclined to work all the time. It has been a big help to him knowing Connie and the boys in the shop have things under control while he is away, allowing him to relax a bit more and enjoy the sights.
Even after moving to Wendover in 1996 Lloyd has maintained a small herd of approximately 30 head of commercial beef cattle to play with, sell the beef from and to teach his grandchildren about farming and the animals. It seems that you can take the boy away from the farm but you can't take the farm out of the boy.
To this day Lloyd continues to go to work everyday and put his heart and soul into his business, a business where he sees his customers as not just customers but friends -- and you don't let your friends down."