Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Brian Crosby Oral History Interview, January 18, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Ok, so go ahead and introduce yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Crosby introduces himself and provides the current date, date of birth, birth place, and the interview location.

Keywords: Hop farming; Hop farms; Multi-generational farms

Subjects: Family farms; Hop (plant); Hops; Portland (Or.)

00:00:22 - Childhood memories on the family hop farm

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Partial Transcript: So, if I had to give a quick little story about my early years

Segment Synopsis: Crosby discusses his family members, and the focus on agriculture that came with growing up on a farm. He describes the different jobs he did on the farm, the difficult working conditions and the safety concerns he needed to be aware of. He notes how the stringency of safety regulations changed as he grew up, and the close calls he and his twin brother had with injury as adolescents.

Keywords: Childhood jobs; Farm clothes; Hop farming; Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Subjects: Agriculture; Child labor; Family farms; Farm machinery; Hops; Irrigation; Machinery--Safety regulations

00:08:57 - Early lessons in hop farming

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Partial Transcript: Do you feel like because that was where you'd always

Segment Synopsis: Crosby explains the importance of self-teaching and learning quickly when growing up on a farm. He describes his father’s introduction to growing hops as a child, and the challenge of adjusting to safety regulations as agriculture was mechanized in the mid-20th century. Crosby then recounts his memories of using DDT on the farm, and how pesticide use has changed since. He notes the different focuses he and his brother had while working on the farm.

Keywords: Child labor; Crop cultivation; Pesticide bans; Pesticide regulation; Self-teaching

Subjects: Cash crops; Farm machinery; Hops; Learning curves; Pesticides

00:13:16 - Different responsibilities on the farm / Family history

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Partial Transcript: So how did you settle into the jobs on the farm?

Segment Synopsis: Crosby describes how jobs were assigned to him and his siblings on the farm, along with the different tasks they did based on the season. He discusses his interest in mechanics, and how he learned how to weld and fix machinery. He illustrates the farming culture in his community, and the awareness of overlap between harvest and school schedules. Crosby then recounts how his ancestors arrived in Oregon.

Keywords: Child labor; Farm history; Farm repairs; Farming families; Hop rhizomes

Subjects: Agriculture; Family farms; Oregon Trail; Tractor driving; Trellises

00:18:37 - Crosby's relationship with his twin brother

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Partial Transcript: And so, when I was growing up, my brother- he and I actually

Segment Synopsis: Crosby describes the difficult relationship he had with his twin brother growing up, and the different mindsets they had. He recalls how his father tried to keep both brothers running the farm, and how that resulted in Crosby leaving to join the military and go to college. He details the jobs he had in construction after graduating from Oregon State, and how he returned to the family farm as a financial manager. He compares the business operations of his brother and his nephew, Blake Crosby, and how the Crosby Hop Farm model has changed over time. Crosby also notes the character differences between his brother and nephew.

Keywords: Business culture; Family culture; Father-son relationships; MillerCoors Brewing company

Subjects: Business management; Family customs; Farm management; High school dropouts; Military; Sibling relations; Sibling rivalry; Siblings

00:27:13 - Current challenges for Crosby Hop Farm LLC

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Partial Transcript: So, the farm operations would be different from the selling

Segment Synopsis: Crosby describes the difficulty of standardizing the professional culture between the farming and sales departments, and how his nephew will eventually need control of the whole business. He details how Blake Crosby worked on the farm during college, and how that lead to his ideas for the business. He recounts how the farm quickly changed to include its own processing station, and how it stands in competition for business now. Crosby discusses the value of his family’s history in their current work as a hop vendor, as well as his nephew’s vision for the future.

Keywords: Business competition; Business expansion; Business growth; Business vision; Family reputation; Farm operations

Subjects: BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture; Cold storage; Family history; Farm management; Farm mechanization; Odd jobs; Vendors and purchasers

00:33:47 - Transformations in hop farming over time

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Partial Transcript: So do you think that leap, that that company leap is similar

Segment Synopsis: Crosby discusses the harvest culture and community surround hop farming prior to mechanization, and how his father got involved in this transition. He notes how farm mechanization dramatically altered agricultural business. He compares the transformation of farming through mechanization to the one that his nephew is leading now.

Keywords: Farm efficiency; Harvest labor; Hop driers; Hop farming; Hop harvest

Subjects: Business transformation; Efficiency; Farm equipment; Farm mechanization; Hops; World War II

00:36:06 - Hops marketing strategies / Farm tourism in hops

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Partial Transcript: How, so how does the story of the family, how do you sell that?

Segment Synopsis: Crosby notes how his family’s reputation helps in selling hops, along with comparing the success he’s had to that of a younger employee. He describes the prominence of agrotourism in hop and wine-grape farming, and how the transition into more artisanal food preferences has influenced that. Crosby discusses how his farming experiences in childhood contribute to his sales now, and his enjoyment of talking to people for his work. He then explains why he wanted to return to the business, and the efforts he makes to mitigate problems his brother causes for his nephew.

Keywords: Business collaboration; Business models; Luxury items; Sales representatives

Subjects: Agrotourism; Family farms; Family mediation; Salespeople; Wine tourism

00:42:43 - Crosby's service in the Navy

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go when you were in the Navy?

Segment Synopsis: Crosby details the different places he traveled to while in the Navy, as well as his role in the force. He describes a time when warships suddenly left the Naval base in Kenya to deal with a terrorist attack. He then discusses his changing understanding of the Iraq-Iran conflict in the 1980s through his service in Bahrain, and later when he hosted an exchange student from there. Crosby explains the lessons he learned from being in the military, and how it lead him to go to college after his service.

Keywords: Ship servicing; US Navy; US military bases; Warship repairs

Subjects: Cultural Diversity; Electronic technicians; Mombasa (Kenya); Terrorist attacks; US Navy warship series; United States. Navy; Warships

00:46:59 - Attending college at Oregon State University

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Partial Transcript: So what was it like to have been, obviously, in an interesting place

Segment Synopsis: Crosby describes the public attitudes towards the military when he attended college, as well as his approach to being a college student. He details how he prepared to study engineering at Oregon State through strengthening his knowledge of math and Linn-Benton Community College. He discusses the social environment of Corvallis and the available activities, as well as how he afforded school and housing. Crosby then recounts how he got involved with the rugby club at Oregon State, and the opportunities he had to travel with the club.

Keywords: Communities sports teams; International conflict; Military politics; Need managment; Oregon State University--sports clubs; Student excellence

Subjects: College costs; Corvallis (Or.); Engineering; Engineering students; Intramural sports; Oregon State University; Rugby; Work ethic

00:55:57 - Crosby's passion for travel / Selling hops in international markets

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Partial Transcript: What's your favorite place to go?

Segment Synopsis: Crosby details his favorite places to travel to professionally and recreationally, and the activities he likes to do while there. He describes how he managed connecting Crosby Hop Farm with hop farmers in Germany, as well as his other efforts in Australia and the United Kingdom. He notes how Crosby Hop Farm processes the European hops in order to be more favorable for brewing. Crosby then discusses the difference in appreciation for his family history when he travels, and the advantage he has as a more experienced salesperson when doing marketing internationally.

Keywords: Crop processing; Cultural environment; English hops; German hops; Hop Products Australia; Hop vendors; Vacation

Subjects: Business trips; Family farms; Family history; Germany; Hops; New Zealand; Polynesia; Quality control

01:03:19 - Changes in hop market preferences

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Partial Transcript: What about the difference- you certainly have lived through the

Segment Synopsis: Crosby describes the methods of hop production from when he was growing up, and the goals of growing hops for high quantity and low cost. He recounts the types of breweries his father and brother would sell hops to, and the influence that macro brewers had on their production mindset. He then discusses how the intentions of hop farming have changed with the development of craft brewing, and how craft brewers help regulate the quality of production now going on. Crosby explains how Crosby Hop Farm manages pricing, as well as how his brother would have struggled with the new market. He emphasizes the importance of professionalism and farm quality in selling to customers today.

Keywords: American lagers; Business investments; Crop processing; Farm efficiency; Hop extracts; Macrobreweries; Pricing standards

Subjects: Beer and brewing; Brewers; Hops; Investments; Lagers; Product quality; Professionalism; Quality control

01:06:49 - Challenges for new and old hop farmers in the craft brewing industry

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Partial Transcript: So what about the smaller brewers? So, we just did an

Segment Synopsis: Crosby discusses the expectations newer growers have when entering the hop industry, and the advice he tries to provide for them about the effort and resources required. He notes the influence of his father’s experiences on the advice he gives, along with importance of growing hop varieties that are best suited for your land. Crosby then describes the hop varieties his father grew, why certain hop varieties were grown, and how hop varieties are used today. He explains how some farmers grow other crops outside hops, but how Crosby Hop Farm will stay focused on hops.

Keywords: Business advice; Business mentorship; Crop diversity; Crop maintenance; Hop varieties; Hop vendors; Market fluctuations

Subjects: CROP MANAGEMENT; Hazelnuts--Oregon; Hops; Market direction; Mentorship; Terroir; Vendors and purchasers

01:17:17 - Reflections on life history

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any questions?

Segment Synopsis: Crosby contemplates on the difficult family dynamic he has with his relatives, and how this environment influenced his own personality. He discusses his questions about childhood ideals, and the difficulty of growing up in a business-oriented family. He then describes how his former coworkers responded to him, and how he differs from his brother in approaching being tough. He notes his appreciation for the job he has now on the farm.

Keywords: Attention span; Childhood health (Psychological); Family dynamics; Fight-or-flight response; Relationship health

Subjects: BUSINESS MANAGEMENT; Construction workers; Family business; Family relationships; Isolation, Social; Mental health; Stubbornness

01:21:56 - Goals at the hop growers convention / Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: What are you gonna do at this convention? What are you

Segment Synopsis: Crosby states his interest in connecting with other people at the convention, and the importance of having a presence with your professional cohort. He explains his chagrin for the location choice of the convention. He then discusses the different changes the hop industry has experienced since the 1970s, and how his nephew is working to be a part of those changes. Crosby speculates on how different farmers will adjust to the difficult market, and the opportunities for young entrepreneurs to thrive in the new industry.

Keywords: Business conventions; Business flexibility; Community commitment; Craft brewing; Hop farming; Hop vendors; Technological advances

Subjects: Beer and brewing; Bend (Or.); Commitment (Psychology); Farm mechanization; Hops; Introverts; Marketing; Socialization; Technological change