In this podcast, Ben and I will cover what it was like growing up on a farm in Canada, his early dreams of wanting to be in the music business, the four secrets to success, his transition back into farming, how he took his farming operation to the next level of over 38,000 acres, the great commodity super cycle, how to help farming operations grow to be more successful, the importance of customer service, best places to travel, driving the Alaskan Highway, buying property around energy vortexes, supporting charity, and the real estate market.
We talk about a wide variety of interests in her life such as what it’s like going to school at Harvard, becoming Director of their Agribusiness Program, where some of her best ideas come from, where grocery stores are heading in the future, buying groceries online, working with Ray Goldberg, living in Boston, traveling the World, and horseback riding.
Michael Lewitt is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Third Friday Management, LLC a hedge fund, private equity and merchant banking firm located in South Florida. He is also the Chief Investment Officer of the Platinum Group USA Ltd., a merchant banking firm focused on investments in the Middle East and Asia.
Lewitt has over 30 years of investment experience and successfully managed large credit portfolios through the 2001-2002 and 2008 credit crises. In 2016, his firm Third Friday Management, LLC was named Hedge Fund Manager of the Year by Wealth & Finance magazine in the UK and The Third Friday Total Return Fund, L.P. was named “Best US Options Hedge Fund Strategy (Since Inception)” by BarclaysHedge.
Mr. Lewitt is widely recognized as one of the few investors and strategists to forecast the credit crisis of 2001-2002 as well as the global financial crisis of 2008. Mr. Lewitt co-founded Harch Capital Management in 1991, where he produced strong risk-adjusted returns managing non-investment grade credit portfolios for clients including Omega Advisers, Inc., Texas Teachers Retirement Plan, Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Associations, Investec Bank (UK) and Goldman Sachs.
Prior thereto, Mr. Lewitt was a member of the Corporate Finance Department at Drexel Burnham Lambert in Beverly Hills, CA. Mr. Lewitt began his career as an associate in the tax department at the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City. Mr. Lewitt is the editor and publisher of The Credit Strategist, a monthly newsletter covering economics, politics and markets read around the world. He is also the author of two highly regarded books, The Death of Capital: How Creative Policy Can Restore Stability (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) and The Committee to Destroy the World: Inside the Plot to Unleash a Super Crash on the Global Economy (John Wiley & Sons, 2016). His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic and many other publications.
Michael graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University with honors in Comparative Literature and History. He also received his JD and LLM in Taxation degrees and from New York University School of Law and was a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Yale University. Mr. Lewitt is a member in good standing of the New York State Bar.
Brian Schinderle currently serves as Executive Vice President – Finance of Grassroots Cannabis (Grassroots) and is focused on strategy, capital markets, investor relations and mergers & acquisitions. Grassroots operates a vertically integrated cannabis business with current operations in 12 states and > 900 employees as of March 2020. On July 17, 2019, Grassroots announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement with Curaleaf Holdings (ticker: CURLF) in a cash + stock transaction valued at $875mm; the transaction is expected to close in June/July of 2020. At the conclusion of the merger, the combined company will be the largest cannabis company in the world, with a vertically integrated business covering 20 states in the US.
Brian is also the Managing Member and is the Founder of Solidum Capital Advisors LLC (Solidum). Solidum invests both its own capital as well as working in partnership with a select group of family offices, high net worth individuals and non-traditional sources of capital. In addition, Solidum acts as an advisor to early stage and middle market companies. Prior to Solidum, Brian spent over 20 years in investment management, primarily investing in fixed income and equity assets via hedge funds, private equity and discretely managed funds. Brian served as a portfolio manager at Balyasny Asset Management for roughly 9 years, and previously served as the co-founder and Managing Partner of Wolf Point Capital Management (WPCM). WPCM was both a long/short credit and equity fund as well as a special situation credit fund. He also managed a series of distressed investing funds at PPM America and started his career at Continental Illinois National Bank. Early in his career, he held various roles in risk management, merchant banking, real estate, and capital markets.
Brian has an extensive background in credit, with a focus on distressed and special situations. For roughly 15 years he worked in an “activist” distressed investing role, and frequently served on both formal and informal creditor committees, including sitting on various post-restructured boards.
Brian has been an active private investor across the cannabis space and also serves on the advisory board of Altitude Investments, a cannabis investment fund based in NY. Brian also serves on the advisory board of AIM PLC, an investment company based in London focused on EU cannabis investments. Brian currently serves on various boards and advisory boards, including Total Loans Company, the Wilmette Theatre Education Project, and The Michigan Shores Club.
Brian graduated from the University of Illinois, Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and also earned a Master of Science degree in Finance. He lives with his wife and three children in Wilmette, IL.
Mr. Wells has over 40 years experience in the agriculture industry. He began his career in 1977 with Archer Daniels Midland Company and has worked in trading and executive capacities for numerous grain and trading businesses including DeBruce Grain, The Scoular Company, Peavey Grain, Con Agra, Farmland Industries, and Drexel Burnham Lambert. In these various capacities he has had complete management oversight of exchange operations in both Chicago and Kansas City, North American grain elevator and exporting operations, over 2500 employees, budgeting in excess of $2.0 billion, and assets under management in excess of $1.0 billion.
In 2000 Mr. Wells purchased selected business units from The Scoular Company and through several additional acquisitions founded West Plains Co. He served as CEO until 2012 when he transferred the ownership and operations of 21 grain elevators, a short line railroad, and a truck logistics business to a group of outside investors.
In 2004 Wells acquired Retzlaff Grain Company, a grain and agricultural business founded in 1958. He divested Retzlaff grain handling assets simultaneous with the West Plains transaction. In 2013 Mr. Wells initiated RFG Logistics, and in 2015 started RFG Trucking, RFG Leasing, and RFG Fleetco.
Mr. Wells is a former member and director of the Kansas City Board of Trade, a former director of the National Grain and Feed Dealers Association, a past Chairman of the Country Elevator Committee and has participated as a member of the North American Grain Export Association. Additionally he has worked with groups on risk management and procurement strategies in Morocco, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. He has served as consultant to the U.S. Grains Council, U.S.D.A, the Australian Wheat Board, and McDonald-Pelz an international commodity broker. During 2016 Mr. Wells traveled to Cuba with Transportation Intermediaries Association and transportation executives to survey the newly developed infrastructure at the Port of Mariel and opportunities for in-bound, out-bound, intermodal and logistics related to agricultural products. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Transportation Intermediaries PAC Board of Directors.
A native of Colorado, Mr. Wells graduated from University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. He has served as a Deacon in the Presbyterian Church, the High Adventure Chairman for BSA Troop 10, and for over a dozen years served as a leader to senior high youth for summer service trips.
This is one you don’t want to miss as it features our special guest Tom Willis, CEO at Conestoga Energy. Tom is a longtime friend and business partner and in this podcast provides valuable insight and opinion about the future of ethanol, the current fallout in crude oil, and the struggles many in agriculture are currently facing. Co-host Andy Daniels also provides a few of his favorite trades. I tell listeners how I’m now playing the corn market.
In this podcast episode, host Kevin Van Trump and Andy Daniels talk about some of their recent investment ideas like Costco and Walmart, what it’s going to take to bring consumer confidence numbers back to recent levels, changes coming for commercial real estate, and where rural America might be heading.
The host welcome long time friend and well respected crop analyst and trader Mike Mock to the podcast. They collectively talk to Mike about the most recent USDA numbers, new crop corn prices, the all-time record soybean prices in Brazil, how energy prices are affecting ethanol, what to do with old crop bushels, and farm marketing thoughts moving forward.
In this podcast, Clint and I discuss more about why he left farming, his experience in LA, making the decision to come back to agriculture, creating Greenfield Robotics, his first product, his own farming operation in Kansas, llamas getting loose, getting rid of the chemicals on your farming operation, creating premium markets for yourself, and much more!