Digging Into The DIRTT Project

Rena Striegel spent nearly 20 years collecting seeds of knowledge as a business transition planner, and now she is digging into a new adventure. The DIRTT Project has sprouted from that fertile ground as a new tool to help farm families and agribusiness owners as they begin the process of transitioning their operations to the next generation.

The DIRTT Project is a comprehensive online program that brings those nuggets of knowedge directly to farms and businesses as a self-guided approach. DIRTT stands for Dedicated Internal Resource for Training and Transition.

“This is real passion work for me”, says Rena Striegel, owner of Transition Point Business Advisors, the company behind The DIRTT Project. “I feel a heavy burden for the number of families who are stressed and struggling because they don’t know how to get those businesses to the next generation.”

As she visited with farm families and agribusinesses about their concerns for transition planning, she kept hearing the same phrase again and again. “We need you, but we can’t afford you.”

Rather than take that as a criticism, she turned that feedback into action and began analyzing the advice and concepts she had repeated to satisfied customers for years. She discovered a clear pattern and began plugging that pattern into what would become The DIRTT Project, a 60-page workbook with 21 tools and worksheets that create a foundation. That foundation is supplemented with a vault of instructional videos from industry professionals sharing bite-size, current information about succession planning.

“It’s really comprehensive but also broken down into chunks,” Rena says. “With The DIRTT Project, we’ve built a space online where customers can buy online and then have shipped to them everything they need to self-direct their business, their family, through a succession planning process.”

One thing Rena had noticed is that in most succession planning programs and conferences, stories were a big part of the presented material, especially scary stories designed to jolt participants into action. She realized that though the stories could be effective, they could also force participants to try to fit their own situation into that story rather than digging into the specifics of their own circumstances. So, she decided to break the mold a bit. She created The Rules of DIRTT:

  • No scary stories
  • Concepts only

Rena and her team began developing The DIRTT Project in 2019, with a soft launch inĀ  August 2020. The official launch was in November 2020, and Rena has encouraged everyone who has participated in The DIRTT Project to share any and all feedback with her. Much of that feedback has been positive.

“When people work at it at their own pace, they are making really great progress,” she says.

She does no advertising and relies on work of mouth and conferences to find new clients.

Through a client who is a U.S. Custom Harvester, Inc. member, Rena heard about USCHI and the annual convention. She reserved booth space at the January convention in Iowa and thoroughly enjoyed all of the people she met there. She’s already got her spot reserved for the convention next year in Amarillo, Texas.

Now she is developing a new addition to The DIRTT Project based on feedback she’s heard from early participants.

While many enjoyed the self-directed approach, a few are interested in receiving in-person instruction. The DIRTT Project LIVE! will launch Dec. 1-3 in West Des Moines, Iowa, for those yearning for personal touchpoints. After the three-day event, there will be five months of follow-up for accountability.

Through the live event and the evolving vault of online videos, Rena plans to keep materials fresh as the need for farm and agribusiness succession planning continues.

“I really want The DIRTT Project to be accessible to all,” she says. “It will never stop growing.”

Transition Point Business Advisors is an associate member of USCHI.

By Jennifer Chick
Wenatchee, Washington