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Bohr brings family-focused farm strategies business to Lisbon
January 07, 2010 · Dave Morris

Steve Bohr's mission is to keep family farms in the family. His company, Farm Financial Strategies, just relocated one of its main offices to Lisbon to help fulfill that mission.

The location along Hwy. 30 was important, Bohr said, noting that it's a connecting route to many of the firms's major clients, which are located in a seven-state area.

Farm Financial Services, which Bohr started 17 years ago after graduating from Coe College, specializes in estate and farm continuation strategies.

The idea is to bring together the farm owner, heirs (both those who farm and those who don't), attorney and accountant. Bohr's firm tailors a variety of strategies to clients to ensure income to the farm owner while providing for future ownership and income for the farm owner's heirs.

"Sixty-five percent of farm ownership is 65 or older," Bohr said. "Farmers tend to hold on to property until they die."

He knows from personal experience the importance of what he does. Bohr, 40, and his family implemented such a plan on their farm near Wellman. The plan provides his retired parents current income, while transferring ownership to the current generation of family through what is called a life estate deed transfer.

"We have seven different ways to transition the farm," Bohr noted. "We do it from the farmers' point of view."

Bohr said it's the step-by-step process his firm has developed that ensures an orderly transition. A variety of financial instruments, including insurance, are used to meet clients' goals, reduce taxes and make the transition.

"This is mainstream, common sense stuff," he said.

Farm Financial Strategies has an additional primary office in Osage, where Myron Friesen, Bohr's business partner for five years, is based. The company has 14 full-time representatives and eight part-time reps, as well as working relationships with up to 40 others across the country.

Three staff people and two reps are based in the Lisbon office, which they moved in to Dec. 28. The spacious quarters provide room for growth. Currently, 48-feet by 40-feet of the building - which measures 48-feet by 112 feet - is used for the firm's offices. The remainder will be available for everything from storage to use by Bohr's son's baseball team for indoor practice.

Bohr continues to farm about 500 acres of the family's rural Wellman property. He lives with his family in Shueyville. Bohr has five older sisters, including Sue Nelson of Lisbon. It was by chance that Bohr ended up locating directly across the highway from Salon 30, which Nelson owns.

Bohr, who was a linebacker on the football team while at Coe, later spent 10 years there coaching linebackers and the defensive line. One of his employees, Damon Walker, was his linebacker coach.

General contractor for the new building was Tim Hanna of TD Builders of Swisher. The conference room has video conferencing capability and awaits a table being built by Amish craftsmen near Bloomfield. Autographed footballs from former Chicago Bear Gale Sayers and Coe standout Fred Jackson, now of the Buffalo Bills, are on display.

Growth for the firm is always on the horizon. Bohr has explored a variety of niche farming areas, such as Christmas tree farms.

"Growth potential is enormous," Bohr said.

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