Interview with Chad Malek
By Joe Kertzman, Managing Editor, Badger Common’Tater
One of Chad Malek’s first memories is driving tractor picking up pipe when he was six years old. “They put me behind the wheel of an old Allis Chalmers WD model with a hand clutch, so it was pretty easy,” he quips. “After that, I got to drive tractor anytime we worked with pipe.”
Malek Farms was a corporation owned by Chad’s uncle, Don Malek, and father, Joe. “I got to ride with my dad while he sprayed,” Chad recalls. “I was disking by age 12. I would wake up early, work for a couple hours and then go to school.”
“It was fun being able to work in the packing shed and with the equipment. We made cardboard boxes using a foot-operated stapler,” he says. “We’d see who could make them faster without messing up.”
“I would hang bags on the Weigh-O-Matic bagger, see how big a handful I could grab and how long I could go before needing to grab more without missing any,” Chad relates. “When you were doing 5-pound bags, that thing would be spinning.”
Chad says he spent a lot of summer days changing hand-set irrigation guns and resetting pipe, noting that they farmed every corner, so after they sprayed, they connected pipes and started watering again.
“You learned quickly how to fix blowouts and check mainlines before you fired them up because they were harder to fix,” he says. “You also learned how to set pipe by yourself.”