Tim Connell currently serves as the CEO for Hart Dairy Creamery Corporation. Formerly of New Zealand, Tim relocated to Augusta, GA after being approached by his business partner Dr. Watson in 2016 about the idea of creating free range farms in the United States. After one visit to Georgia, Tim decided to partake in the operation as it held true to his values of creating a transparent business that provides nutrient-rich products to consumers.
Recognizing the needs of consumers across America, Tim Connell brings fresh perspective and innovation to the dairy industry. Tim firmly believes that all companies and products should balance the social, environmental, and economic impacts of producing mass-quantities of nutrient-rich foods that not only nourish consumers but also create a sustainable environment while keeping animal welfare as a top priority.
Hart Dairy has set the standard in the industry as being the largest farm in North America to operate free range, every day of the year. Georgia provides an ideal climate for Hart Dairy’s cows to roam freely throughout the year. Never confined and grass fed, the cows live happier and healthier lives, which leads to better tasting milk for the consumer. A non-GMO environment, Hart Dairy also produces high-quality milk, providing consumers with one of the most nutritious milk options available. Recently, Hart Dairy was named as the first dairy cow operation in the United States to be certified humane. Tim and his team have implemented Fitbits on each of their cows that allow constant monitoring of the animal’s well-being and movements.
Tim brings years of invaluable experience to Hart Dairy Creamery Corporation. As consumers continue to search for companies that represent transparency throughout their processes and products, Hart Dairy aims to be the dairy choice of consumers by providing healthy, sustainable products. A part of the “good food” movement, Hart Dairy makes strides toward reinventing the dairy industry.
Where did the idea for Hart Dairy come from?
Richard Watson, my business partner and co-founder of Hart Dairy. He already had four farms in Georgia and realized that though he had the best milk in America, he was getting just a commodity price for his grass-fed milk and that the only way he was going to get a better price for his milk and for his milk to be recognized was to launch his own brand. Hence the phone call to me.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have long days as I have a business in London in a different field as well as a subsidiary in New Zealand exporting dairy products all over the world. So, my day starts around 6 to 7 am if not earlier to deal with my British issues. It then runs into my American company issues from 8 am to 6 pm and then continues to 10 pm with New Zealand Dairy issues – so lots of hours on the phone.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You have to have a very, very clear vision at the start. What I have learned is that you need to define the company DNA from the start because once you have that, every other decision is a lot easier, from marketing to packaging to distribution, etc.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The “Better for You” movement I think is revolutionizing our consumption patterns. People are now far more aware of what they are putting into their bodies and the source of many of the products. As a consequence, it is putting large food manufacturers on notice that putting something together that looks good is sufficient – fancy packaging and marketing isn’t good enough in today’s world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am incredibly focused. I am always asking myself if what I am doing is taking me closer or further away from the end goal for Hart Dairy – if it takes me further away I don’t do it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stay focused. It’s easy to see lots of opportunities, but it’s harder to keep working past one thing at a time. I am learning that now and divesting myself of my other interests.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You will get old before you know it. When I was starting out, I put a lot of things off, like saving for retirement. I am now in my mid 50’s and I look in the mirror and ask “who is this old guy?”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep two hours a day for exercise. It doesn’t matter how busy you are; you don’t have anything unless you have your health – there is a reason that saying is an oldie but a goodie.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I always like to bring in advisors. In many instances, you may have to give up a small piece of the company but what they bring in folds the cost. In addition, if you can bring in a recognized businessman you can leverage off their credibility for capital raising. This has worked time over time for me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I bought a chain of 22 restaurants when I was young and lost everything I had. Every successful business I have had I have started from the ground up, and understand every piece of the chain. This is why it is important to never stop learning and never be afraid.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I use a PR firm and scream about every good announcement no matter how small. The $3k+ to put out a PR release is great money spent as the exposure you get is hundreds of times worth the $3k spent.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent $15.00 at the flea markets on an old pair of binoculars which had fantastic lenses. I overlook the sea and like to take time between calls to check out the marine life. Many an old tune played on an old piano as they say.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Translate – I deal with multiple countries so being able to understand half my emails makes the world of difference.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I wish I had read it when I was in my early teens. I also used to give every new staff member a copy of Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It is 32 pages but was a great way of getting people working for you to think outside the square.
What is your favorite quote?
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
If you’re going through hell, keep going.
Never, never, never give up.”
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.