From Farm to Food: Knott Attributes Food Business Success to Farm Experience | Characteristics
Although Camron Knott grew up in an agricultural environment, he does not personally see himself as a farmer.
“… We’ve done a few different things, but we’ve always done tobacco,” Knott said. “But there was a time when we grew peppers for a few years; we grew tomatoes for a few years; we have been growing strawberries for several years.
The Owensboro farm was owned by Knott’s great-grandfather, who was later bought by Knott’s father and great-uncles.
The strawberry trade seemed to be booming at one point, starting out as a small plot before Knott’s father started selling them to friends and colleagues and eventually brought public attention to the fact that the people wanted to go out and choose theirs.
This experience helped Knott develop his work ethic at a young age and admire people.
“Growing up, I had… role models, I would consider, of my great uncles, who lived there,” Knott said. “And even those who didn’t live up there, like their brothers, would come to the farm if we broke down if we were cutting hay or something; they would go out as their lunch break (and help out). I had always admired them because they… could do anything. … You never saw them cry, you never saw them get angry.
“I grew up around these men like there was no problem they couldn’t solve. … They just taught me to think about it.
And his farming experience has taught Knott to define what the word “work” means to him.
“A lot of people see work as…: ‘I hate that. This is a bad thing. It’s a bad word, ”Knott said. “I’ve always been taught it’s a necessity you have to do it and that’s what you do with it.”
Knott used their guidance and leadership to attempt to open his own Camron’s Foodliner grocery store in Sacramento in 2004, before opening a second location in Livermore in 2019.
“… I realized the work ethic and the things that I developed there,” Knott said. “The things I learned – I wouldn’t have (the store) without it.
“It re-educated my mindset that work isn’t really a priority, but it’s like, ‘It has to be done. »… And if you have a good attitude, you will get there sooner than if you have a bad attitude and you drag your feet…. “
The discipline he learned from his role models has also helped Knott stay focused on the task at hand, running the stores and the day to day problems he may face.
“… There are many keys to running a business, especially a business like this which is open seven days a week,” Knott said. “Pretty much anyone who runs a grocery store, anyone who runs a restaurant or different businesses that are in my boat, pretty much you have to work seven days a week; even if you are sick, you still have to work.
The grocery business was also part of Knott’s education, as Knott’s Father’s Day gig worked as a store manager in Owensboro before moving on to another career with the Kentucky Lottery, where he was going. and came from stores all over the state.
Knott followed in his father’s footsteps and got his first job at age 16 at a Foodland in Owensboro, while also setting foot in other industries such as construction work.
While studying business administration at Western Kentucky University, Knott initially intended to own his own restaurant and bar, but found himself changing paths after graduation.
“… (The Sacramento store) came to sell and it was my dad who actually found it,” Knott said.
At first, Knott and his father would buy the building together until Knott decided to buy it himself.
“I bought it and here we are,” Knott said. “Living the dream.”
However, when Knott bought the first store, his father decided to stop growing tobacco. Although it took Knott a year to focus on getting the store up and running, he found it odd not doing something he did on a regular basis.
“That year… it was just crazy. I never thought I would miss tobacco, ”Knott said. “As a kid I always thought to myself, ‘I can’t wait when we don’t raise this. And, I was driving down the road and someone would spray the chemical, they would cut the tobacco – you walk past a tobacco barn with tobacco in it and it was like all those smells…. I just got to a point where I was talking to a client here one day and they were talking about signing up with tobacco and I was like, “You know what? “”
Knott eventually decided to become a hobby farmer and began growing tobacco on his father’s farm in 2006, growing around four acres at first before downsizing to around two in recent years.
In 2011, Knott bought his own 40-acre farm in Calhoun where he grew beans and corn, even selling some of the sweet corn he grew seasonally at both Camron’s Foodliner locations.
“Once you have the dirt under your fingernails, you can’t remove it,” Knott said. “I consider myself a hobby farmer because I don’t farm thousands of acres like some of these guys do. I’m just a guy with 40 acres of beans and corn, and I’m having fun with that.
“… Everyone has their own hobbies. Some people like to go fishing when they get off work, others like to play video games – everyone has their own thing they want to do. I cultivate…. “
Although Knott doesn’t depend on the farm for a living, he does find some form of therapy by getting some fresh air.
“It forces me to go out of the store, to go out, to get some sun, to sit in a tractor, to sweat, to get dirty – things that are not always associated with this job,” said Knott. “There are so many times it’s so nice to sit in a tractor and sit there listening to the radio and working and being alone. A lot of times my mind can go to places and if I have a problem… it’s that lonely moment where I can just be in a tractor… looking around. ‘ “
While Knott admits he’s taken a farm break for this year, he relishes the experiences that come with it.
“… This is the kind of thing my dad and I did,” Knott said. “Even though it was my tobacco when I worked there, it came down (and) helped me. We work a little, we sit under a shady tree and (have) a father-son conversation. Tobacco stripping is a very intensive part of it… and you’re sitting in a barn and you’re at this big table pulling it out, pulling the leaves off and your dad is on one side and… it’s kinda the father- the hour of the son.
Knott has three children of his own, who helped him to some extent on the farm, but learned more about his store skills, such as counting money and handling cash registers. While these are valuable tools to learn, on-farm experience cannot be compared.
“There are things I can teach them (at the store) but it’s not the same as being in a field when it’s 105 degrees and it’s just terrible (and) mean and most people want to call it a day, pack their bags and come home, ”Knott said. “My great uncles kind of taught me how to make the most of it. Work at your own pace, drink plenty of water, and just have fun with it.