Mike Hellenbrand ~ The Lasting Legacy

A feature article in our Winter 2020 issue written by Kathleen O’Keefe, originally published at Cowsmo, read the full article clicking here.

He knew the stress and success of a career on Wall Street, sat on the Executive Board of World Dairy Expo, and was partners with some of the most successful people in the purebred dairy cattle industry, yet what might say the most about Mike Hellenbrand was how he treated the kids in our business. Mike passed away after a long illness last summer, but he created a lasting legacy with some motivated young people.

The story behind City Slickers Farm, owned and operated by Mike & Linda Hellenbrand, has been pretty well documented. Both had high-powered New York City careers in the financial industry, but following the events on September 11, 2001, they looked for something different in life and relocated back to Mike’s native Wisconsin. With the same energy that had propelled them in NYC, Mike & Linda applied themselves to creating a new business in Cross Plains, WI.

“Our business model evolved over time,” recalls Linda Hellendbrand. “We didn’t necessarily think we would be involved with all of the breeds, but the Holstein market was pretty saturated and price competitive. Mike saw some opportunities to make an impact and build some value in the colored breeds.” They had a unique set up to take embryos from elite cows, get those calves on the ground, and take wonderful care of them. “Mike loved talking and connecting with people. We had more exposure with various breeders because we worked with several breeds. Those partners trusted us to raise those calves and nuture those genetics from their great cows of their breeds,” comments Linda. “People would come and look at calves that resulted from various matings from these outstanding cows. It was like a living catalog with the calves right in front of you.”