Years in Industry: Joe - 41 years; Joe Jr. - 11 years
Family: Joe is married to Sharon, son Joe Jr. and daughter Kara. Joe Jr. is married to Colleen, son Austin, daughter McKenzie.
Memberships and Organizations: Joe: Jack Brown Produce Board Member (35 years), Pomsters Organization (25 years), Michigan State Horticulture Society (6 years), MACMA (6 years), Clarksville Advisory Committee (12 years), Farm Credit Board (6 years), Michigan Apple Research Committee (6 years) Joe Jr.: MACMA (first year)
History: Joe Klein and Joe Jr. are a father-son team who own and operate two farms in Sparta, along with a satellite farm in Hoover. Joe is the second generation to own Royal J Klein Farms, which was founded in 1940 by Joe's father and uncle.
Joe Jr. started his farm, J K Farms, in 1997. The two consider each other full partners and work together to run all operations. Today, they have 225 acres of apples.
Joe and his son believe labor issues and the expanding foreign market continue to challenge the industry and that understanding these effects are crucial. Planning for and understanding shifts in both domestic and foreign markets and producing new varieties are a never-ending struggle.
The Kleins enjoy working in the fruit industry because it is something they love doing and because it gives them the opportunity to work together. But time away from the farm is important as well. "You have to take time to enjoy other parts of your life as well," Joe says. Playing golf, taking hunting and fishing trips, and covering for one another when they take vacations are all benefits of working together.