Kate Keenan (left) and Bonnie Mohr discuss orders for Bonnie Mohr Studio Sept. 1 at the studio near Glencoe, Minnesota. Keenan returned to the family business four years ago. 
Kate Keenan (left) and Bonnie Mohr discuss orders for Bonnie Mohr Studio Sept. 1 at the studio near Glencoe, Minnesota. Keenan returned to the family business four years ago. PHOTO BY JENNIFER COYNE
    GLENCOE, Minn. – When Kate (Mohr) Keenan was in high school and thought about her future, it did not include returning home. Over the last decade and after two careers off the farm, Keenan is thriving in her career – at home.
    “I honestly never thought I’d return to the farm and work with my family,” Keenan said. “This has really turned out to be everything God had planned for me.”
    Keenan is the office manager at Bonnie Mohr Studio where she processes orders, maintains customer relations and oversees all retail operations of her mom’s renowned art studio. She soon will be handling the business’s social media accounts too. She also works with Glenmark Genetics Inc., keeping up on registration paperwork, DHIA data entry and other tasks at the family dairy where her parents, John and Bonnie Mohr, milk 100 cows in McLeod County near Glencoe.
    While the dairy is equipped with a full-time employee, Keenan also enjoys helping when needed with milking cows and feeding calves.  
    “Each day is different here,” she said. “One day, I could be in a business meeting and then next I’m chasing cattle or riding in to town with my dad in the farm truck to run errands.”
    Not only is Keenan involved in her parents’ endeavors, but she and her husband, Jeff, also help operate a 1,200-head beef cattle and 2,500-acre crop farm with the Keenan family in addition to raising their 2-year-old daughter, Claire.
    While days are busy and far from consistent, Keenan enjoys the diversity.
    Following high school, the 2011 graduate attended Argosy University in Eagan and graduated with an associate’s degree as a certified veterinary technician. Keenan spent five years as a practicing CVT before becoming a licensed insurer with State Farm for another three years.
    In 2017, Keenan reached a crossroads in her career at the same time her parents were doing the same.  
    “I was giving 100% every day, but it wasn’t for me or my family,” Keenan said. “My parents were coming to a Y in the road. They could either start thinking about retirement or going further. My return was a mutual fit. There was work, and my parents wanted to grow in their businesses.”
    The timing was right for Keenan to return home.
    “I wasn’t ready to come back here after school,” Keenan said. “In the time I was away, I matured, I learned how to provide the best customer service. … I grew as a person.”
    With Keenan’s return to the family businesses, she has been able to further incorporate the use of technology and social media as well as help her parents adapt to a faster pace of doing business.
    “The younger generation, we do things at a quicker pace,” Keenan said. “How we do business today is different than how they did business 20 years ago. My parents have been on board with that. They have to, to market bulls or promote and sell paintings.”
    And just as Keenan has taught her parents, they too have taught her with more than 30 years of experience in their respective fields.
    “I have learned a lot in my four years here,” Keenan said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned as a person is to take their critique with an open heart and know it’s out of pure love to make me a better employee.”
    The Mohrs’ daughter has been instrumental in many areas of the businesses and creating new business strategies – seeing the process from start to finish and realizing in that time what works well and what needs improvement.
    With growing up on the farm, Keenan has been around these tasks her whole life. However, the capacity at which she is involved in now brings on a new importance for completing the job well.
    “I’m always wearing two hats, as both a daughter and employee, and sometimes that is simple and sometimes it’s complicated,” Keenan said. “But working side by side my parents is great. They’re huge supporters and the best bosses.”
    Keenan cherishes the small communities she is a part of because of the family businesses, the qualities her parents have instilled in her to be a more well-rounded person and valued employee, and the example she is setting for her young daughter.
    “I want Claire to grow up and see my genuine qualities daily, to love and respect the people you work with, to know what it’s like to be happy and excited to go to work,” Keenan said. “I can only hope I set those examples for her every day.”
    With four years of involvement at the studio and farm, Keenan is eager to continue establishing her roots at home.
    “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Keenan said. “I love what I do and who I am here with.”