After providing farrier supplies for more than 2 decades, Bruce Cilley is temporarily stepping back from his duties at Horseshoes Plus in Barrington, N.H., to fulfill a presidential appointment.
The White House selected Cilley to be the executive director of New Hampshire’s United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. He began his position Jan. 11.
“This wasn’t something I went looking for or submitted a résumé for,” Cilley says. “It took me by surprise more than almost anything I can think of over the course of my life.”
The call from the White House came at the end of August to inquire about his interest in the position.
“It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to pursue,” Cilley says. “I decided to go ahead and put my name in, follow the process and see what happens.”
After a number of interviews, the position was offered to him just before Christmas. While the appointment certainly was flattering, his answer didn’t come easy.
“I struggled with the decision about this opportunity,” he says. “To step away from what has been 23 years of enjoyable relationships and activities at Horseshoes Plus and the friends I have made in this industry was not an easy one. However, this will allow me to have a positive impact upon agriculture in New Hampshire and there is a certain excitement about that.”
It’s not the end of the road of Cilley’s involvement at Horseshoes Plus, though.
“My son Rob and I discussed the possible outcome and what it meant to Horseshoes Plus,” he explains. “Two years ago, we started a 5-year transition plan for him to take over its management. I’m still owner and president and will remain so for the next 3 years. If everything goes according to plan, Rob will buy me out. In the meantime, I’ll still help out when I can and participate in clinics and open houses.”
Yet, as it’s already demonstrated, the fickle finger of fate guides one to unexpected paths.
“This is a presidential appointment, so it expires at the end of the term — about a year from now,” Cilley says. “It depends on who the next president is. The next administration could choose to keep me on or go with someone else.”
If the next president chooses to retain him, Cilley certainly will consider it.
“I’m just ending my third week in the position, so it’s hard to tell,” he says. “Right now, I would say yes. I’ve been involved in New Hampshire agriculture my whole life. There’s a great opportunity here to continue my involvement.”