January 18, 2021

Archives for August 2015

MaxYield All-Star Team: Steve Leman

20150504_maxyield_032 (681x1024)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our All-Star team award winners: 

It has been said that the big rewards come to those who travel the second, undemanded mile. That’s certainly true for Steve Leman and everyone he serves.

This is the second time Steve has been named to MaxYield’s All Star Team. “I was surprised to win again, because there are a lot of people at MaxYield who would qualify,” Steve said. “I’m fortunate to work with people who are willing to go the extra mile.”

Making sure that MaxYield Cooperative’s clients have the diesel fuel and gasoline they need, when they need it, is job one for Steve, who is based out of West Bend. While the majority of the fuel gets hauled from Milford or Clear Lake, Steve could be headed anywhere from Rock Rapids to Des Moines.

“I like to get started around 4:30 or 5 in the morning, although some times of the year that gets switched around so I start around 5 p.m.,” said Steve, a 1997 graduate of West Bend-Mallard High School who joined MaxYield in 2010. “It just depends on what MaxYield and our clients need at the time.”

Steve can haul more than 7,000 gallons of diesel and more than 8,000 gallons of gasoline per load. “Sometimes I need to haul four to five loads a day just to keep up with my clients in the Central and West areas,” he noted.

Steve heads to the terminal in Milford or Clear Lake to pick up fuel that he delivers to the bulk plant in Emmetsburg. He also makes some direct ships with farmer clients who can hold a transport load of fuel. While there’s typically a three-hour turnaround on a trip to the Milford terminal, the process can take much longer during the hectic harvest season.

“The 2014 harvest season got pretty hectic, since there was nothing to slow the farmers down,” Steve said. “It seems like the suppliers can never ship enough fuel up here through the pipeline, so we work hard to provide clients with the fuel they need.”

Steve also keeps an eye on inventories at the Cenex® facilities where he delivers fuel, including West Bend, Fostoria, and Whittemore. No matter what jobs he has lined up for the day, he always makes MaxYield clients a priority. “MaxYield gives me flexibility to get the job done in the most efficient way I can.”

Living the dream
For Steve, truck driving is a family affair. Steve’s father, Dale, who worked at the co-op’s tire station for a number of years, was also an over-the-road truck driver. “I always wanted to be a trucker, too,” said Steve, who worked in the swine industry for several years after college before changing his career path.

After completing the truck-driving course at Iowa Central in Fort Dodge, Steve worked as an over-the-road trucker for six years with Decker Truck Line. “While I loved waking up in new places and seeing a lot of the country, you miss out on a lot of family stuff when you’re on the road,” said Steve, who has five children.

He couldn’t pass up the chance to join MaxYield, where he can be home every night, have access to modern equipment, and benefit from a strong team. “This is the perfect job,” said Steve, who drives a 2015 Freightliner Coronado. “Everyone here is willing to help me out when I need it, and it’s a fun environment to work in.”

Editor’s note: Steve and his wife, Angela, who recently moved to Milford with their five children: Joshua, 10; Sawyer, 8; Grace, 6; Adalee, 4; and Cash, who will soon be 2.

MaxYield All-Star Team: John Weiland, Agronomy Applicator

20150504_maxyield_015 (1024x681)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our All-Star team award winners: 

Aristotle noted, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” For John Weiland, excellence is a habit that has earned him a place on MaxYield’s All Star Team for two years in a row.

John was sick the day of the awards presentation, however, and didn’t quite believe what he was hearing from his team members who attended. “I started getting texts from my team members that I’d been named to the All Star Team again,” said John, a Britt native who works in MaxYield’s East Area. “I thought they were joking around with me, but they weren’t.”

John was surprised and humbled to receive this honor. It’s an award that could easily go to many of his fellow team members, he said. “To me, a MaxYield All Star is dedicated, friendly, and has a good attitude. I look forward to coming to work, because I love the job.”

John’s work takes him to fields from Britt to Meservey. Whether he’s applying fertilizer, crop protection products, or chicken litter, John works alone but appreciates the team members who support him.

“This job gives you freedom but definitely requires a team effort, too. You need a truck driver, office personnel to weigh the truck, and someone to load the products before I can apply them on clients’ fields.”

Relying on his team members to serve clients efficiently has been an important part of John’s 24-year career with MaxYield. When he started with Farmers Cooperative of Britt, he worked in the feed mill before joining the agronomy team. In addition to applying fertilizer and crop protection products in the spring and summer, John applies chicken litter in the fall through GE-MAX Nutrients LLC.

Providing exceptional service to local clients is important to John, who worked for his Burgardt relatives on their Britt-area farms during high school and college. “The farmers around here are friendly, good people. I’ve known a lot of them all my life and enjoy working with them.”

John also appreciates his team members in Britt. “We have a good group of people, and many of them have a lot of experience here,” noted John, who is glad he can work in his hometown and stay close to agriculture. “The team is almost like family.”

Moving into the future
While farms and equipment have grown larger, making it more challenging for applicators to keep ahead of the planters and combines, technology has also enhanced John’s job. “MaxYield gives us very good equipment to work with,” he said. “I like how accurate the equipment is today, because it makes precision application much easier.”

John also appreciates the opportunity to work outside, see the countryside, and take training classes each year on equipment maintenance and other timely topics. “I also like to see how we’re moving forward, with everything from new grain bins to fertilizer sheds,” he said. “We’re not moving backwards because MaxYield is focused on the future.”

Editor’s note: John has three children: Kaylee, a college student who is switching her major to nursing; Logan, who recently graduated from West Hancock High School and is thinking about studying agriculture at North Iowa Area Community College; and Lucas, who will be in ninth grade this fall at West Hancock. John enjoys spending time with his wife, Catherine, attending his kids’ school activities, and golfing at the Britt Country Club, where he serves as president.

MaxYield All-Star Team: Jim Klepper

20150504_maxyield_034 (1024x681)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our All-Star team award winners: 

There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile. Just ask Jim Klepper. Whether he’s transporting grain, fertilizer, liquid propane (LP), or rock, Jim is in it for the long haul at MaxYield Cooperative, where he handles his work with plenty of professionalism and good humor.

“I’m a commodity relocation specialist—a CRS,” said Jim, who has been with the co-op for 19 years and was on MaxYield’s 2013 All Star Team. “It’s fun, and that’s the best part of it.”

Jim found his fit at MaxYield Cooperative after his previous careers of installing telecommunications equipment around the Midwest and later working as an over-the-road trucker before joining the co-op. “I like how every day is different, depending on the season, and I also like the flexibility of the job.”

Jim covers MaxYield’s West Area for grain and fertilizer, although he drives from Fostoria to Britt to haul LP after picking up a transport load from the terminal at Sanborn, Clear Lake, or Ogden. He appreciates that MaxYield provides good equipment to work with and emphasizes a culture of safety. He also likes working directly with farmers in MaxYield’s trade territory.

“I work with them when we pick up grain from the farm in the fall,” said Jim, who is known for his upbeat, positive attitude. “We’re like inexpensive hired help for them.”

Living the good life
Regardless of what he’s hauling, Jim likes working in the countryside. “If I pull up to a corner in town and have to wait for three cars, it seems like a long time,” said Jim, a 1983 graduate of West Bend High School.

Jim also likes the flexibility of his work, especially since he can load and unload LP 24 hours a day. “Since I can set my schedule and figure out my own route, it’s like being my own boss.”

No matter where his work takes him, Jim takes the extra initiative to make the workday easier for his team members. “We help out with maintenance work and fill in where we’re needed,” he said.

This spirit of cooperation is widespread throughout MaxYield, where Jim appreciates the support of his fellow truck drivers, the mechanics in the shop who keep everything running, and Judy Frieden, the West Bend client care leader who handles the paperwork. “It’s all about teamwork here,” Jim said. “These are good, hard-working people I can count on. They know the little things aren’t little at all when it comes to serving MaxYield’s clients.”

Editor’s note: Jim and his wife, Pennie, a fourth-grade teacher in the Graettinger-Terril School District and instructor at Buena Vista University, have three children. Oldest daughter Jackie and her husband, Ben, who serves in the U.S. Navy, recently welcomed a new addition to the family in Norfolk, VA. Their daughter, Lily, who is Jim’s first grandchild, was born Dec. 17, 2014. The Klepper’s second daughter, Jamie, is studying radiation therapy at the University of Iowa. Their youngest daughter, Kelli, will be a senior at West Bend-Mallard High School this fall. In his free time, Jim enjoys camping, bow hunting, and firing up his Honda VTX motorcycle.

MaxYield All-Star Team: Cody Ostendorf

20150504_maxyield_018 (681x1024)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our All-Star team award winners: 

From his internship in 2010 to his promotion to agronomy specialist, Cody Ostendorf has come a long way in a short time, and that’s good news for MaxYield clients.

“Providing agronomy solutions is a priority for me,” said Cody, who is based in Belmond. “I want to help provide the expertise and products to help clients in this area maximize their yield potential.”

Cody first got connected with MaxYield when he was completing his agricultural business degree with an agronomy minor at Iowa State University.

When Cody joined MaxYield full time in 2011, he was based in Meservey and worked closely with Jon Kaduce, a MaxYield agronomy specialist. Also, the two years he spent at the seed warehouse in Garner were invaluable to helping him become an agronomy specialist in 2013.

“I needed to understand MaxYield’s operations better so I can help our clients get the solutions they need,” said Cody, who handled many seed treatment jobs and learned the co-op agronomy business from the ground up.

Seeing the world through the clients’ eyes
Cody was no stranger to agriculture, since he grew up on a farm near Meservey. This has been a plus in his role as agronomy specialist. “I’ve known a lot of the growers in the area for years,” said Cody, who enjoys seeing the seasons change and watching the crops grow. “I also know the ground around here, which helps me make recommendations for clients.”

Working closely with clients is appealing to Cody, who also likes the unique role of an agronomist. “It’s like a CSI investigation—there’s something you’re trying to diagnose, and you need to spend some time in the field to see if it’s a disease, nutrient deficiency, or something else.”

Cody also appreciates the new fertilizer complex at Belmond, which allows the team to provide full agronomy services to clients in the region. This is also enhancing SciMax Solutions, which continues to grow in the East Area. “There’s a lot of excitement among growers about the new fertilizer facility in Belmond, which is helping us provide better, faster service,” Cody said.

Being able to see the world through the clients’ eyes is the key to supplying this service, Cody added. “Farmers have so much going on, from finding the right crop protection products to managing herbicide resistance. When I help them develop a plan, I take economics into consideration and give them options to fit their needs.”

It takes a team
Delivering these solutions takes a team. “I enjoy the people I work with, because we share the same goal of thinking about the client first and helping each other out,” Cody said. “They aren’t just team members to me. They are friends.”

Cody was humbled to be named to the All Star Team. “It’s a huge honor, since there are many great team members at MaxYield. One of the biggest compliments I’ve gotten is from clients who say it looks like MaxYield is a good place to work. I feel this way and love hearing that from clients.”

Editor’s note: Cody and his wife, Suni, have a one-year-old daughter, Indi. While Suni used to work for MaxYield at Meservey and Belmond, she is now a stay-at-home mom. In his free time, Cody enjoys spending time with his family.

MaxYield All-Star Team: Carol Laubenthal

20150504_maxyield_041 (1024x681)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our All-Star team award winners: 

Author and motivational speaker Les Brown noted, “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” When Carol Laubenthal started her career at MaxYield a decade ago, she was up for the challenge.

“Although I grew up on a farm near Rodman, I never thought I’d work in agriculture,” said Carol, a graduate of West Bend-Mallard High School who started at MaxYield’s Hobarton location. “I originally planned on going into the hotel/foodservice industry, so I had a lot to learn about an ag cooperative.”

Her MaxYield education started with running the grain probe and weighing trucks at the scale and advanced from there. “I still remember the first time I did the settlement checks,” Carol said. “The checks seem big until you realize that farmers have to pay for their seed, fuel, and many other expenses with that money.”

Learning the grain industry prepared Carol for her next role as the client care leader at the Algona location. “You have to be a jack-of-all-trades in this role and know about grain and agronomy,” said Carol, who also answers clients’ questions about their MaxYield statements. “While clients can look up information online, they like the fact that they can still call us and talk to someone who knows their farming operation.”

Getting to know MaxYield’s clients is one of the highlights of the job, added Carol, who enjoys visiting with members of the local coffee crowd, who often convene at the Algona office when the weather isn’t conducive to farm work. It’s almost like family—much like the MaxYield team members who make Carol’s job easier.

“We have a great group of people at MaxYield. If you have a question or don’t understand something, there’s always a support system to help you find the answer.” This spirit of service defines members of each year’s All Star Team. “I’ve always admired how the All Star Team interacts with MaxYield clients and MaxYield team members,” Carol said. “It’s a big network of people who go above and beyond with a good attitude and a willingness to help others.”

These leaders also look for ways to embrace new technology to help MaxYield provide even more solutions, Carol added. “That keeps me excited about the future.”

Editor’s note: Carol has two daughters, Clarissa and Casey, who are both 21 and live in the area. In her free time, Carol enjoys traveling to favorite destinations like Las Vegas.


He’s There When You Need Him: Dave Petty Named Solutions Provider of the Year

20150504_maxyield_052 (681x1024)As we continue to celebrate our 100 year anniversary, we look back at some of the folks that make our company great…including our most recent Solutions Provider of the Year award winner, Dave Petty.

Writer Robert Hughes noted that, “A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop.” He could have been talking about Dave Petty, MaxYield’s 2014 Solutions Provider of the Year.

“I work for our clients,” said Dave, who runs the shop and handles outside operations at the Dickens location. “Many of them are more like family and friends to me than clients.”

Dave became acquainted with MaxYield’s clients in 2003 when he was completing his ag business degree at Iowa Lakes Community College. The Washta native’s on-the-job training at MaxYield turned into full-time employment after he graduated in 2005. Today, he’s the go-to guy at the Dickens location.

“I do a little bit of everything,” said Dave, who also manages the dry fertilizer facility, has a service truck to handle all kinds of repairs in the field, and attends to equipment maintenance of all types, from repairing a hydrostat in a skid loader to fixing trucks. He credits his father, Reginald, for helping him develop his mechanical skills.

“Dad is kind of a jack-of-all-trades, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” Dave said. “He’d tell me, ’Tear it apart, and you’ll figure it out.’”

Growing up country
It helps that Dave grew up around agriculture and farm equipment. His grandparents farmed, and his father also farmed for quite a few years. “When I was a little kid, I always wanted to farm, too,” Dave said. “I liked the big machines. I never had a bicycle because I went from toy tractors to a pedal tractor to a real tractor.”

Dave will never forget the day he went to a salvage yard near Quimby with his dad. When a 1937 Allis-Chalmers WC caught his eye, 10-year-old Dave made a deal with owner Dennis Rupp, who agreed not to sell the tractor until the end of the summer. This allowed Dave enough time to work odd jobs and redeem pop cans to raise almost all of the $200 required to buy the tractor, which had attracted several other offers in the meantime.

Although Dave was still $20 short when it was time to settle up, his father loaned him the money for the tractor, which reminded Dave of his grandfather’s Allis-Chalmers equipment. “By the time I was 14, Dad and I had that tractor running again,” said Dave, who noted that his father is a walking encyclopedia of vintage tractor knowledge.

“Today, that tractor is the pride of my fleet,” said Dave, who has owned the tractor for nearly 21 years.

During high school Dave worked part-time at a local salvage yard and began to add to his farm equipment fleet. His collection, which now boasts about 24 tractors, along with combines and other equipment, includes his favorite Allis-Chalmers and Farmall machines.

Dave’s practical, hands-on knowledge of equipment has paid off handsomely at MaxYield, where he can handle any fix-it job. “It’s great to have Dave in the West Region,” said Jeff Bonnstetter, shop supervisor in West Bend. “With his skills and his service truck, he can respond to things fast, which benefits our clients. He also has a positive attitude and is an all-around great team member.”

People count on me
While Dave is always willing to go the extra mile, he really goes the distance in the hectic spring and fall seasons. It’s not unusual for him to start his workdays at 5 a.m., and he sometimes works seven days a week.

“If my farmers need fertilizer on Sunday to beat the weather, I’m not going to make them wait until Monday,” Dave said. “I’ll do what I can to take care of them and make sure everything is done in a timely manner.”

He is quick to credit his MaxYield team members, including Tracy Enderson, client care leader at Dickens, for helping him get the job done. “They make sure I have the tools I need and are always there for me,” said Dave, who enjoys mentoring younger team members.

It’s an honor to be named Solutions Provider of the Year, added Dave, who was surprised to hear his name called during the awards ceremony. “People sometimes ask why I don’t transfer to a MaxYield location closer to Cylinder, where I live,” Dave said. “Well, my farmers are here. People count on me, and I want to be there for
them when they need me.”

Editor’s note: Dave has two dogs: a Boston Terrier named Bella and a Boxer/Labrador Retriever mix named Oreo, who has been with Dave since his college days. In his free time, Dave enjoys spending time with his family and restoring vintage farm equipment. He’s also looking forward to a trip to Hawaii this winter.

MaxYield Feeds Winners at Iowa State Fair

IMG_1704MaxYield Cooperative congratulates our clients on a job well done at the Iowa State Fair during the 2015 FFA hog show!

The first picture is of the Supreme Purebred Breeding Gilt/Champion Berkshire Breeding Gilt shown and owned by Andrew Dornbier (Garner-Hayfield/Ventura FFA) of Garner, IA.

Shown in the second photo is  Reserve Champion Poland China Market Hog shown and owned by Natalee Dippel (Belmond-Klemme FFA) of Belmond, IA.

IMG_1696Both Andrew and Natalee purchased their show feed from MaxYield’s feed mill, located in Garner.

Eric Malek  and his team have done a great job providing solutions to his feed clients and getting them products they need in order to be successful.

To learn more about our show feed solutions, contact your nearest MaxYield location, or our Garner feed mill.

Congratulations Andrew and Natalee!









Belmond Area Arts Council & Farm Benefits from MaxYield & Land O’Lakes Contribution

20150728_maxyield_248 (1024x681)Dave Hubka, MaxYield’s Belmond location leader, recently presented David Nelson, director for the Belmond Area Arts Council (BAAC), with a contribution from MaxYield totaling $5000. The funds will be used for upgrading the electrical service at BAAC farm.

Land O’Lakes Foundation also contributed matching funds to the project. They annually provide matching funds to projects in communities in which they or their member cooperative’s serve. They are found online at www.landolakesinc.com.

MaxYield is a local member-owned agricultural cooperative with locations in 14 Iowa communities. They are headquartered in West Bend, IA. More information about the cooperative is available at www.MaxYieldCoop.com or www.FromTheField.com.

BRANDON BENSCHOTER, Soil Sampling/Crop Scouting Intern

20150727_maxyield_057 (681x1024)While he grew up on a farm east of Algona and had worked with Pioneer Hi-Bred, Brandon Benschoter is getting a whole new perspective through his MaxYield internship.

“I’m new to the cooperative system,” said Benschoter, a Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) graduate who is now a junior majoring in agronomy at ISU. “I wanted to see a different side of agriculture and am learning a lot at MaxYield.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?
A: There are a lot of great careers in agriculture. It’s exciting to see all the new things coming along in this industry.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield crop scouting/soil sampling internship?
A: I always knew I didn’t want an office job, so this internship has been great. I have a blast meeting with growers in the Central Area. They all have different styles of farming, and I’ve learned a lot from them just by listening to them.

Also, MaxYield doesn’t just throw you under the bus and give you busy work like some other companies do with their interns. They give you valuable, hands-on experience and guide you every step of the way. They also give you a lot of opportunities to learn. I’ve appreciated the chance to spend time with MaxYield’s grain team and learn more about grain marketing. I’ve also gotten to learn more about SciMax Solutions, which is interesting.

Q: How have you benefited by having Tim Bruns as your mentors at MaxYield?
A: Tim does a great job of helping me learn weed identification and what crop protection products to use in certain situations. He takes the time to explain things and does a really good job of helping me learn. If we’re in a field and Tim sees an issue, he’ll pull a plant and show me what to look for.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?
A: Working with growers this summer has definitely put a career in sales on my radar. I’m willing to travel and look forward to seeing what opportunities come along. I’ll never stop learning.

Interesting facts about Brandon:
• Brandon is taming the flame as he learns to smoke and grill foods. He especially enjoys the bratwurst from Skoglund Meats in West Bend.
• Brandon is an outdoorsman who enjoys fishing. He also hunts for deer, ducks, pheasants, and turkeys.
• Brandon likes to stay active and plays basketball in his free time.


20150617_maxyield_388 (681x1024)

When you’re just weeks away from graduating, it pays to get all the hands-on work experience you can before joining the “real world.”

“That’s why I was interested in working for MaxYield,” said Marcus Christensen, an ag business major who will graduate from ISU in December 2015. “I’ve known some other people who had good experiences with their MaxYield internships, and I knew I’d learn a lot here.”

Q: What inspired you to study agriculture in college?
A: I grew up on a grain farm near Estherville and have always had a passion for agriculture. It’s a vital industry, and some of the best career opportunities are in ag.

Q: What have you enjoyed about your MaxYield grain operations internship?
A: If you want to gain some vital work experience and learn a lot about a cooperative, this is a good place to be. MaxYield gives me responsibilities and treats me like a team member. I’ve learned a lot about the grain side of the business by loading trucks and trains. We load 110-car trains at the Belmond location and have 15 hours to get each train prepped, filled, and sealed after it arrives. MaxYield provides plenty of training from day one to help us learn the job and keep us safe.

It has been interesting to see what goes into the decision-making process at a grain elevator. I like how MaxYield gives us a lot of opportunities to learn. We had lunch with the CEO, Keith Heim, and have had local economic development leaders speak to us, too.

Q: How have you benefited by having Dave Hubka as your mentor at MaxYield?
A: I see Dave every day. He’s knowledgeable, easy to talk to, and is willing to answer my questions. MaxYield team members like Dave are friendly and are good at explaining things to help me learn.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?
A: I’d like to work in the ag lending or financial services. I’m open to going anywhere for a job, and I’m also open to living in Iowa.

Interesting facts about Marcus:
• Farming is a tradition for Marcus’s family, which includes his parents, Roger and Theresa, his brothers Michael and Daniel, and his grandpa, Don Christensen.
• Marcus has worked in the sales and service departments for a marina in Okoboji and continued to work at the marina on weekends during the summer of 2015.
• In his free time, Marcus enjoys spending time outdoors, boating, watching baseball, basketball, and football, and reading non-fiction books, including business books.