A Farming Wunderkind, Turned State Representative
As an undergraduate student at DU, Roger Victory ’87 created a business plan that would help him cultivate a career in farming, and later, a successful bid for public service. “The same principals in the business plan I created many decades ago have carried me through decades of success in the root vegetable farming industry.” Learn more about Roger’s journey on the farm and as a State Representative below.
Tell me about yourself, Roger!
While I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be a farmer. I did not grow up on a farm, but the area I was born and raised, Hudsonville, was a perfect geographic location to start a farm. The synergy between the climate, soil and topography – being close to Lake Michigan – was perfect for growing. I saw a need for a niche produce market.
While in college at DU, I created a business plan for turnip production. That business plan helped me create Victory Farms while in college. After graduating from Davenport in 1987, with a BBA in logistics and business management, Victory Farms blossomed. Now, nearly 30 years later, I employ more than 30 employees who operate 800 acres of farmland. We supply root vegetables such as turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, winter squash, and other niche crops to the Midwest and beyond.
While growing my farm business, I became involved in the community. I wanted the voice of the agricultural community to be heard, so I ran for the 88th State Representative’s Office. I am in my second term as a State Representative, representing the residents of Allendale, Georgetown, Tallmadge, Wright, Chester, Coopersville and Polkton townships in Ottawa County.
What was your experience like at Davenport?
I was initially drawn to Davenport because of their reputation of an entrepreneurial business school and the practicality of the course material. As I mentioned, I was in full swing of creating my farming business, but needed the business skills to run it. I wanted to take what I learned and marry it with the work I was doing at the farm. I learned from experienced professors who were developing business of their own. Also, I was working full-time running the farm, so I needed a college where I could still work all day.
I can still remember my favorite professor, Roy Hamlin. He was a WWII veteran who was a member on the Liberty Ship. It was an honor and privilege to learn about logistics from someone who lived it every day while serving our country.
Tell us about your role as a State Representative?
People ask, ‘What do you as the 88th District State Representative?’ I simply say, ‘You name it, it is included.’ I represent 90,000 residents in Ottawa County. I am a member of the House Appropriations Committee where I assist in managing a 54 billion dollar budget – which is bigger than most budgets in small countries.
My practical education at Davenport taught me the “soft skills” to help with real-life issues that I am dealing with every day as a State Representative. Everything from state highways to correctional facilities to veteran assistance programs; I am able to see and hear firsthand what the community is dealing with to help solve the issues. Not only do I represent the 88th District, I represent all the residents in the State of Michigan.
Why do you do what you do?
My answer is twofold. I love agriculture. The land, community it serves and the relationships that I build through agriculture are extremely heartfelt and meaningful to me. I also feel honored and privileged to serve the residents of Michigan as a State Representative. As I continue on my journey of life, I learned from Davenport that you have to step out of your comfort zone. Running for office is my way of continuing to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone to help people.
What advice do you have for DU recent grads?
The biggest piece of advice I have is to keep your options open. Don’t put yourself in a box. Even though Davenport did not have a political science program it doesn’t mean that you can’t go into politics to serve your community. Davenport has a unique way of teaching students the soft skills that they need to succeed in and out of the classroom. Leverage those opportunities to do what you enjoy.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
Victory Farms is the largest rhubarb grower in America.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy recreational activities, traveling and learning.