Chad Bair: Dairyman/Business Owner/ Fourth Generation Elkoian

Before we jump into this week’s conversation, let me give you a little “behind the scenes ” backstory, if you will, to how this profile came to be. Chad and I are actually really good friends. Our families have dinner with each other weekly (sometimes Chad will bring over a tasty frozen pizza…we’ll explain why that’s possible in a bit). We enjoy having real, weighty conversations with one another. Overall, we simply have a fantastic personal relationship. Now, rewind a little bit. I had set up an interview with an individual from a unique walk of life, and I was really looking forward to hearing his story because this gentleman had been on my heart for several weeks. However, he, unfortunately, didn’t make an appearance at our rendezvous point. I still look forward to talking with him as I truly believe that his story matters when it comes to our community; it may just take a little persistence to arrange the sit-down, which is fine. All that being said I was left sitting at this restaurant with a giant question mark…who could I get to sit down and talk with me on such short notice? Lightbulb! Maybe my good buddy Chad would be willing! I reached out to Mr. Bair and he agreed. It took a few days for our schedules to allow us time to meet, but I was thankful for that because the more time I had to think about it, the higher my excitement level rose. I had an opportunity to not only learn more about my friend’s life journey but I got to sit across from a man who has called Elko “home” for his entire life. His perspective and reflections on our community must be very insightful. And, you know what? They were.

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Now, before we jump into “Elko talk” we have to talk business. Chad and his family are actually business owners. Bair Distributing Inc. is the official name of their company. But what is Bair Distributing? Are they passing out big/ferocious forest animals to the people of our town? “We are in the dairy business. We distribute dairy products in this area. They’re bottled elsewhere but we bring them in fresh and distribute them. (Besides milk) we also handle other food products such as ice cream, tortillas, frozen pizza, stuff like that. I’m one of the owners as well as the sales manager. I love being able to get out and build relationships with people (in the food world) who have come here and called Elko home. There’s currently nine of us and we really look to establish an environment of care. We care about what we do and we’d like everybody to know that.We’d like them to know that if they need us, we care, and we’re going to be there…doing what needs to be done.” What a great business! As I mentioned in the intro, I’m very thankful for their tasty frozen pizzas! But what has Chad noticed, specifically from working in this field for so long? “Over the last several years, I’ve noticed that things have gotten away from the “one on one” relationships in the business world. You’re dealing with people that are sometimes a thousand miles away who don’t know who you are and sometimes don’t even want to know who you are. And I look forward to going back to the roots of doing business with people one on one and building relationships with the people that are here. Hopefully, that makes a difference in our world.Our business is invested here. All of the profits stay in this town. ” I’m sure there are many, many people in our community who are thankful that Chad, and his coworkers, show up and do what they do every week! But, I know it can’t all be milkshakes and burritos. What are some the struggles Chad faces as a business owner? “Being in a mining community, sometimes people move here with the notion that they’re going to be making twenty-nine dollars an hour with full benefits. And, if they end up working for us, it seems like they’re never happy. We try to give them everything we can, but sometimes it’s just not enough.” Keep in mind, they’re not a global corporation with millions of dollars at their disposal. This is understandable.The question is, how do they respond to this particular dilemma? ” We have had a lot of people, over the years, who have left and came back, who tell us the environment that is there is where we want to be. You guys care about us. You care that we’re off at a decent time of day to go home and be with our families. I’ve heard a lot of that lately…it makes me feel good.”

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Great stuff there! Now, it’s time to take advantage of the fact that I get to talk with multigenerational Elko boy! Lay it on us, Chad! “My story (in Elko) starts in the 1890’s when my family first came to Elko County. I’m the fourth generation born Elko County. I went to Northside Elementry and Grammer Elementry and graduated from Elko High School. And it was around that time my grandfather started talking to me about going into the family business, it was in high that I decided I was going to go that route. I jumped in with both feet and pursued my career in the family business. And I’m still there; I’ve been there my whole life. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Elko is where I choose to be; I chose to stay here because I love it here. I think we have everything here. And what I’ve learned about being here is that everything is what you make it. If you think it’s the worst thing on Earth, it’s going to stay the worst place. But if you think it’s the best, you’ll make it the best.” Good, good. But how does one approach this kind of attitude towards the town? Especially, if this is our “adopted” home. “I think getting with stuff, outside of work, is where it’s at. By getting involved with your church or youth sports, hunting, fishing etc. Be involved with something other than going to work and then just going home every day.”

There ya go! Some free wisdom from an Elko veteran. Now, let’s talk a little more about Elko itself over the years. What has Chad noticed about the community through his decades as a resident? “I’ve seen a lot of families, who have been in the ranching business for generations, just move away because the world is changing. It’s not that Elko was a bad place for that type of environment, it’s just the culture is changing and a lot of people don’t want to live a hundred miles away from everything on a ranch. But what I was growing up, that’s all there was here…ranching and gaming. I remember being a kid and hearing about the first mine coming to Carlin. Everyone was like, I don’t know about this whole gold mine thing. I don’t know if it’s going to work out! (Geography wise) none of the current businesses were here. The farthest west was CVS, which was Safeway back then, and that was like going to the moon to get there; that was the edge of town. And when I was a kid, around 1984, my uncle was actually one of the first people to build a house in Spring Creek and everyone told him he was crazy! Nothing was ever going to happen out there! There was nothing but a dirt road going over the summit but he still built one of the first houses out there. Nobody lived out there.” That’s wild! I’m pretty sure something did end up “happening” out in Spring Creek, thank goodness!

Thank you for giving us a little taste of our town’s history, Chad! However, speaking of tastes, this conversation has given me a craving for some soft-serve! Before I head out to grab a cone, anything else you’d like to share? “I would encourage everyone to step out and experience something different. Whether it’s the California Trail Center, The Western Folk Life Center during Cowboy poetry; take in what Elko has to offer.”

What a fantastic conversation. Thank you for sharing your experiences and heart for our area with us all, my friend. And a big thank you to Chad’s beautiful wife, Christa and his three stellar kids (Ollie, Molly, and Gabe) for letting steal him away for a bit!

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See you in the dairy aisle, Elko!

 

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