Bridging Agriculture and Energy Sustainably
Jeff Carlson, a name synonymous with innovation and growth, stands as a remarkable figure at the intersection of agriculture and energy. As the president and owner of Carlson Agricultural Enterprises Ltd. and the partner and CEO of N7 Energy, Jeff's journey traverses two pivotal industries, reflecting his passion for sustainability and his ability to drive tangible results. Amidst a diverse background that combines energy, agriculture, law, and finance, Jeff's unique skill set has not only propelled him into key roles, but has also shaped the landscape of both sectors.
With a lineage deeply rooted in agriculture, Jeff's commitment to sustainability has been nurtured through generations. As the head of Carlson Agricultural Enterprises Ltd., he oversees the cultivation of canola, peas, wheat, and malt barley across three farms spread over two provinces. The company's sustainable practices have stood the test of time, spanning 120 years of responsible agricultural management. Jeff's leadership has been instrumental in expanding the operation from 4,000 acres to an impressive 16,000 acres, transforming the business into a fifth-generation success story. Notably, the collaboration with Olds College on two research farms exemplifies Jeff's dedication to innovation and knowledge sharing within the agricultural community.
In 2022, Jeff's strategic vision led him to N7 Energy, a privately owned oil and gas production company operating in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. In a short span, his impact has been remarkable. By optimizing production practices and techniques, the N7 team managed to increase gas production by 25% and tripled oil production, without the need for new wells. This impressive growth within a year speaks volumes about his leadership and operational expertise. Jeff's commitment to addressing essential human needs, such as heat and energy, underscores N7 Energy's role in fostering sustainable solutions.
Jeff's journey isn't merely about his professional roles—it's a tale of continuous learning and adaptation. His education journey began at the Haskayne School of Business, where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree, during which an acquisition of a real estate license showcased his penchant for expanding his horizons. He then embarked on a path that would lead him back to his agricultural roots, growing Carlson Agricultural Enterprises and subsequently joining N7 Energy. This convergence of energy and agriculture, backed by his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Calgary, has armed him with a multidimensional perspective.
Jeff's trajectory is punctuated by transformative achievements. As an executive, he played an instrumental role in growing an oil and gas service company from 100 to 400 employees—a testament to his prowess in team building and leadership. His legal acumen proved invaluable as he engaged in substantial M&A deals, with the largest valued at $120 million. This ability to navigate complex financial landscapes while embracing his entrepreneurial spirit defines his career.
We spoke with Jeff to learn more about his unusual expertise and success in both agriculture and energy.
While some might view AG and energy as polar opposites, you see them both as a means to help people improve their lives. Tell us about this?
I see both industries as providing the basic necessities of life. Agriculture as the oldest industry, provides the caloric fuel for our bodies including those of our animals including pets, where the energy industry (in all forms renewable and non-renewable) provides the necessary heat for our homes and power for transportation and industry. Both industries are critical to human survival in the northern and southern areas of the planet. There are so many products we rely on that have an agricultural or energy basis including foods, textiles, shoes, plastics, electronics, and building supplies that it’s hard to not be reliant on one form or another.
You grew up on a farm and were surrounded by oil and gas operations. Did this experience play a role in your desire to serve these industries as an attorney, and later, as an AG and energy executive?
Yes. Balancing the needs of two industries on the same lands requires thought and determination. The conflicts that can arise between competing needs should be balanced with the needs of society and balancing the long-term views (often agricultural) with those of energy. The skills achieved as a lawyer in negotiation and problem solving combined with an entrepreneurial spirit is an effective combination.
As both an entrepreneur and an AG and energy executive, you’ve generated remarkable levels of growth for your own ventures and the companies you’ve served. How were you able to accomplish this?
Growth requires purposeful effort through team building and a clear directive. A clear plan with measurable steps and goals helps great people succeed. Once you build a good team, executing on a great idea, success usually follows. Sometimes things are hard, but perseverance usually prevails.
You have a very diverse background in energy and agriculture, and law and finance. Does your broad experience give you a unique perspective in terms of not only understanding the challenges of companies in these industries, but the ability to develop strategies to overcome them?
Yes. I seem to be able to sort through the “noise” of companies and industries and help them determine a clear course of action. I bring the most value in strategic planning and implementation strategies.
Jeff's story isn't just about accomplishments; it's a reminder of the power of holistic thinking and the potential that lies in convergence. He isn't confined to a single realm; rather, he's a bridge between sectors that are traditionally unrelated. His journey speaks to the profound impact one individual can have on shaping industries, fostering sustainable practices, and championing growth. In an era that demands innovative solutions to global challenges, Jeff Carlson's approach underscores the importance of multifaceted expertise and unwavering dedication.
President and Owner: Carlson Agricultural Enterprises Ltd.
CEO: N7 Energy