January 25, 2021

Archives for November 2018

Doug Shirk Retires from MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative energy team leader, Chad Besch (left), presents Doug Shirk with a gift of appreciation at his retirement coffee held in Emmetsburg.

Doug Shirk, energy solutions specialist based at MaxYield Cooperative’s Emmetsburg location, was recognized on November 28 with a retirement coffee, honoring his 23 years of service to the local cooperative. His last day at MaxYield was November 30.

Shirk began his career at MaxYield April 1, 1995, delivering refined fuels and LP gas in the Ayrshire area. In 2008, he transitioned to full-time fuel sales as an energy solutions specialist. Prior to working for MaxYield, Shirk farmed in the Emmetsburg area for 25 years.

During retirement, he looks forward more time to fish, doing more woodworking projects and spending more time with his four grandchildren.

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a local farmer-owned cooperative serving members and clients in Iowa, and southern Minnesota. Founded in 1915, MaxYield Cooperative is headquartered in West Bend, Iowa. More information about the cooperative can be found online at www.MaxYieldCooperative.com and www.FromTheField.com.

MaxYield Announces $1000 Ag Scholarships

MaxYield Cooperative announced today details of their scholarship program for area college students and graduating high school seniors.  MaxYield will once again offer up to six $1000 scholarships to students who are in pursuit of a degree in agriculture.

“The purpose of the scholarship program is to encourage and provide financial assistance for area youth to pursue and prepare for careers in agriculture.” stated Chad Meyer, client relations/communications director for MaxYield.

Applications are available at area high schools, local community colleges, and any MaxYield Cooperative location.  New this year, the scholarship application form can be completed and submitted online. As a part of the application process, students must submit an essay entitled “Why I selected agriculture as my career.”

Meyer continued, “Often, MaxYield is the largest employer in many of our communities.  We feel we have an obligation to provide opportunities for our children to return to our local communities.  This is one avenue by which we can support that goal.”

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2019.

MaxYield Cooperative serves nearly 1700 members in 24 communities, with 210 team members.  For additional information on the MaxYield scholarship program, contact any MaxYield location.

To apply or for more information, head to https://www.maxyieldcoop.com/agscholarships.

Clay County 4-H Membership Dues Decreased with Help from MaxYield

Jo Engel, county youth coordinator, Sarah Dirks, in-school and adult program director, and Amy Forrette, county associate director youth programming accept a contribution from MaxYield that will decrease the cost of 4-H membership in Clay County.

MaxYield Cooperative recently presented Clay County Extension and Outreach with a contribution aimed at decreasing the cost of enrollment in 4-H youth programs.

“4-H has long been a key resource for youth development in our local communities, and clubs continue to offer high-quality educational programs. Making 4-H membership accessible to more families is important to MaxYield Cooperative. That’s why we contribute more than $13,000 to 4-H in seven northern Iowa counties annually,” said Chad Meyer, client relations/communications leader at MaxYield.

“We’re continuing our support of local 4-H and commitment to our youth,” said Meyer.  “Recently, we presented a contribution for $10 per 4-H member in Clay County to decrease the cost of 4-H membership.”

MaxYield has two goals as it helps support 4-H. “First, we want to make 4-H an affordable youth program for local families, especially families that have multiple children enrolled,” Meyer said. “Second, by paying a portion of each 4-H member’s enrollment fee, we are able to continue our mission in supporting 4-H so that each member benefits.”

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 24 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for two Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at www.MaxYieldCoop.com and www.FromTheField.com.


Algona Fire Department Receives Matching Funds Contribution from CHS, MaxYield

(l to r) Tony Rahm, assistant chief; Mitch Ulrick, Chad Besch, MaxYield Energy team leader; Joe Degen, president; Roger Simpson, secretary.

MaxYield Cooperative presented the Algona Fire Department with a contribution of $2500 in matching funds from the CHS Seeds for Stewardship program. The funds match a contribution made earlier this year by MaxYield. The funds will be used to upgrade the department’s air packs.

Each new air pack costs $5000 and the purchase of new packs will increase firefighter’s safety and protection, and increase the number of quality packs for the department.

MaxYield Energy team leader and member of the Algona Fire Department Chad Besch presented the checks to Tony Rahm, assistant fire chief, Joe Degen, president, Roger Simpson, secretary and Mitch Ulrick.

About CHS Seeds for Stewardship

The CHS Seeds for Stewardship is a competitive grant program that matches funds for projects that develop the next generation of ag leaders, improve ag safety and enhance rural vitality in local communities. CHS is a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, rancher and cooperatives across the United States. More information about CHS is available at www.chsinc.com.

About MaxYield Cooperative
MaxYield Cooperative is a diversified local farmer-owned cooperative serving members and clients in Iowa, and southern Minnesota. Founded in 1915, MaxYield Cooperative is headquartered in West Bend, Iowa. More information about the cooperative can be found online at www.MaxYieldCooperative.com and www.FromTheField.com.

Rev It Up: 5 Things Drive MaxYield’s Steve Meyer

Could a racecar driver be your MaxYield Cooperative propane delivery driver? Absolutely, if you work with Steve Meyer.

Okay, so Meyer hasn’t raced for a few years, and safety is always job one when he’s driving for MaxYield, but this guy definitely has an adventurous spirit and a passion for hot rods.

“I’ve loved cars since I was in high school,” said Meyer, a 1970 graduate of Spencer High School. “Some friends of mine had a ‘55 Chevy and a ’56 Chevy when I was growing up. My cousin also bought a new Ford Fairlane GT 390, and I thought I’d like a car like that.”

Here are five more things you might not know about Meyer:

  1. Meyer restored a classic 1956 Chevy. It’s dark blue and white. It has belonged to Meyer’s wife, Barb, since she was in high school. Now this ‘56 Chevy is a hot rod with a new lease on life. “Barb got this car in high school in 1969 when her family bought it from a guy at Estherville,” Meyer said. “It was in pretty good shape, but I redid it before we got married in 1971.”

In 2000, the Chevy received another makeover. “I had a professional restorer from Everly do it right, like taking the body off the frame and repainting the car,” Meyer said. “I also had a guy in Lake Park add a roll cage and narrow the rear end so I could put bigger tires on the Chevy.”

  1. Meyer feels the need for speed. You can’t have a hot rod and not race it once in awhile, right? Meyer had a local guy build a 540-cubic inch engine for his ‘56 Chevy. “We took the engine to Minneapolis to put it on the dyno, and the engine measured 600 horsepower,” said Meyer, who has raced his car at Marion, South Dakota, and Humboldt, Iowa. While he hasn’t raced since 2010, Meyer brings out the Chevy for the car cruise during Spencer’s Flagfest celebration in early June. He and his wife also take the Chevy to Clear Lake during the first weekend in August for the car show and the cruise around the lake.
  2. His family’s roots run deep in northwest Iowa. Meyer grew up in Paullina, where his father ran the Paullina Dairy until the mid-1960s. After the family moved to Spencer, Meyer landed a job with Herbster Electric while he was still in high school. He was later promoted to appliance specialist. He switched gears in 1984 and began handling service work and delivery for Lakes Propane. After that company was bought out by Great Lakes Cooperative, Meyer kept the same job even though the company went through many changes due to acquisitions by Green Plains, Inc., The Andersons, LLC and MaxYield in April 2016.
  3. MaxYield fits Meyer’s style. Meyer drives a bobtail propane truck for MaxYield, and his route takes him from Hartley to Ruthven to Peterson. He works eight- to 10-hour days, depending on the season. “The energy team is a good group to work with,” Meyer said. “The delivery trucks are also nice with all their push buttons and modern technology. I didn’t think I’d like working with computers, but I do. They make life so much easier.”
  4. Meyer soars with a new hobby. While Meyer loves his classic car, he also enjoys flying radio-controlled airplanes. “When my folks lived on Grand Avenue in Spencer, there was a hobby shop in town,” Meyer said. “I saw the planes there and thought it would be cool to fly.” He started investing in this hobby about 15 years ago and finds much of his gear at Hobby Town in Omaha. He has five radio-controlled airplanes and belongs to the Spencer Skyhawks. Club members gather on Tuesdays and typically head to a field east of Spencer to fly their aircraft. “If you can’t see what the plane is doing, it’s too far,” said Meyer, who usually flies his planes no further than a quarter of a mile of away.

Meyer enjoys his hobbies and has no plans to retire from them—or his job at MaxYield—anytime soon. “I like how MaxYield does things, and I’m going to keep working and plugging away.”

Editor’s note: In addition to going to car shows, Meyer and his wife enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren. Their oldest son, Shawn, is a chiropractor in Chandler, Arizona. Their other son, Corey, lives in Dickens and works for Polaris, while their daughter Ashley, lives in Omaha with her family.



Looking for Financing Options?

In these times of tight margins, it pays to assess all your options, especially when it comes to financing inputs for the 2019 crop.

MaxYield’s options include:

  • In-house financing. MaxYield offers delayed-price diesel, summer-fill liquid propane (LP) and terms on fall and spring inputs. Fall inputs can be picked up and applied before payment is due January 20. Spring inputs can be paid for by July 20. “If you pay early, you can also earn discounts,” Post noted. Pre-paid dollars lock in the best prices. “However, our in-house financing offers you a longer time period to pay for some of your big-ticket items,” Post said.
  • John Deere Financial. You can also access financing options through John Deere Financial, which has been a trusted partner at MaxYield for years. “Our relationships with national companies allow us to pass along low rates,” said Chad Hefel, Iowa sales manager for John Deere Financial. “Along with saving money, you can access an unsecured line of credit to help preserve your cash flow on your operating line of credit.”

You can apply for credit or request a credit increase for a John Deere Financial account through the MaxYield Seed website (www.maxyieldseed.com). Getting your application in sooner rather than later is smart, Post noted. “This provides the most flexibility in obtaining the crop inputs you need now and then pay after harvest.”

  • Rabo AgriFinance. MaxYield also has arrangements with Rabo AgriFinance, a global leader in agriculture financing. “This can be the right option for some people,” said Post, who encourages you to visit with your local MaxYield agronomist or seed team specialist to explore your options.

How does 0% financing sound?

Maybe you’re thinking, “I have enough money to make my purchases without a loan. Why should I look into financing?”

There are still some 0% financing deals out there, Post said. “These deals allow opportunities to utilize cash elsewhere. In any case, we encourage you to assess which solutions fit your business, and we look forward to working with you.”

“We provide you choices,” said Susan Post, chief financial officer for MaxYield Cooperative. “We encourage you to do the math, talk to financial professionals like your banker and tax advisor to assess cash flow needs, and determine the solution that fits your operation.”

Maintaining Trust Through Changing Times

Financing options don’t just affect your business. They also impact your cooperative.

“Times have changed,” said Susan Post, chief financial officer at MaxYield Cooperative. “Vendors are asking us for prepaid money sooner and are paying rebates back later in order to stretch the time value of money to their benefit.”

It’s Great to Be Back: Greenville Location Embraces Client-First Mindset

As the Greenville location at MaxYield Cooperative prepared for its third harvest, it hasn’t just transitioned from a seasonal location to a full-time location. Moving from a corporate business structure to a cooperative system has also redefined Greenville.

“I like MaxYield’s focus on being a solutions provider for our clients,” said Kent Engel, Greenville grain superintendent. “It’s great to be back in the cooperative system.”

Greenville plays an important role in MaxYield’s west territory. Located about 10 miles south of Spencer, MaxYield Cooperative is the biggest economic engine in this town of approximately 60-plus residents.

Greenville offers 1.5 million bushels of grain storage, including two 350,000-bushel bins and one 710,000-bushel bin that were built in recent years. Providing fast, efficient grain handling services is one of the hallmarks of Greenville.

It’s a whole different mindset than when the location was part of the corporate structure before that. “Corporate has a mission to provide maximum return to the shareholders,” Engel said. “That’s a much different philosophy than a cooperative, where the members are the owners.”

Multiple transitions created challenges

Greenville’s history in the grain business dates back generations. The business was privately-owned grain elevator for decades. In the 1970s, Greenville joined with grain facilities in Langdon and Spencer before all three were bought by Farmers Co-op in Everly, which later included Hartley, Royal and Milford.

The cooperative merged with Superior in the 2000s to become Great Lakes Cooperative. Within a few years, Green Plains bought the cooperative and its locations.

“Ethanol was coming on board around that time,” Engel said. “Management said this might be a case where if we can’t beat them, we should join them and provide corn for the ethanol plant in Superior.”

The Greenville location was part of Green Plains for about four years. “We had a lot of transition in a short amount of time,” Engel said.

More change occurred when Greenville and other locations in Green Plains were sold to The Andersons, LLC in Ohio. “The Andersons had facilities in Nebraska and wanted to fill in the gaps from Nebraska to Ohio,” said Engel, who noted that Greenville was part of The Andersons for four years before MaxYield purchased The Andersons’ locations in April 2016.

All these transitions cost the Greenville location some clients through the years. “The different changes in ownership every few years made it tough,” Engel said. “If a client leaves, you have to earn that trust back and rebuild that relationship again.”

Greenville evolves with the times

Engel believes the cooperative system offers one of the best ways to grow these relationships, since the business exists to serve the farmers. His cooperative roots run deep, back to the years he was growing up in Paullina.

“My father, Robert, managed the co-op at Paullina for more than 30 years,” said Engel, who has worked in the cooperative system since 1977. “I grew up around the elevator. To me, that was like growing up on the farm.”

Engel has seen a lot of changes in agriculture during his career, including the size of the farms. “When I was growing up, a quarter section was a pretty big farm,” he noted.

As the farms have changed, so have the grain elevators that serve them. Greenville, which used to be served by the Milwaukee railroad, used to have a single grain bin east of the office, along with three flat storage areas for grain. Grain could be shipped by rail until the tracks were removed around 1975-76.

In the 2000s, Greenville received a new 15,000-bushel-per-hour grain leg. “The old grain was so slow it was pathetic,” Engel said. “Between the new grain leg and the new bins we’ve added, it has all made a huge difference.”

Along with fast service, MaxYield offers a Keytrol fuel station at Greenville. Members of the local coffee crowd stop by the office each morning for hot coffee and fresh popcorn. Some drop by again in the afternoon.

Even the coffee crowd has changed through the years in Greenville. “It used to be a card playing group who exchanged small amounts of money,” said Engel, who noted that the crowd was biggest in the winter. “There might be 12 to 14 people in here, which made it tough to do business, since you had no privacy.”

There used to be quite a few smokers among the coffee crowd. “In the dead of the winter, you’d have to open the windows to try to clear the smoke out of the office,” Engel said.

All that changed in 2008, when Iowa lawmakers passed the Smokefree Air Act, which prohibits smoking in enclosed areas within places of employment. “That was kind of hard on the coffee crowd,” said Engel, who enjoys visiting with the regulars who continue to stop by the Greenville office.

Engel appreciates the chance to serve local farmers. “Our clients are forward thinkers who adapt to change and are willing to try new things. They are good people to be working for.”




Never Too Late to Say Thank You: Honor Flight Helps Vietnam Veteran Heal

The shrieks from one angry man at the San Francisco airport in October 1969 still haunt Ken Kerber. They echo long after Kerber returned to America from his service as an Air Force crew chief in Thailand during the Vietnam War.

“I wasn’t 50 feet off the ramp when that protestor starting shouting,” said Kerber, a retired MaxYield Cooperative truck driver.

The protestor’s venom infuriated Kerber, who had not only enlisted and served honorably in the U.S. Air Force from 1965 and 1969, but had married and started a family during this time. Kerber had been proud to serve his country, yet he couldn’t erase memories of his military service fast enough.

“When I came home, I burned everything but my combat boots and my medals as soon as I could,” said Kerber, who grew up in the Fenton area. “I started farming and didn’t talk about my military service for 20 years.”

He could have shared stories about receiving the Vietnam service medal, good conduct medal and target shooting medal, but why bother? The whole topic of Vietnam seemed to trigger nothing but rage.

“A lot of my friends were in the local American Legion, but I didn’t want anything to do with it then,” said Kerber, who had experience with T-38 pilot trainers in Arizona and became a crew chief specializing in F-4 fighter jets in Vietnam.

Time has a way of changing things, though. When Kerber had the chance to join the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight from Fort Dodge to Washington, D.C. this spring, he took the opportunity.

“It was awesome,” said Kerber, who is amazed that he and his fellow veterans were greeted by more than 400 people and a band when they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport on May 12. “Little kids – maybe 4 or 5 years old, shook our hands and thanked us for our service. I cried like a baby, because I’d never received a thank you like this.”

Experiencing memorials to mail call

North Iowa veterans from the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II spent the entire day in Washington, D.C., visiting war memorials and sharing memories that only fellow veterans truly understand.

“We got a police escort all day, so our bus didn’t stop at any traffic lights,” said Kerber, who is grateful for donors like MaxYield that make the Honor Flights possible. “They told us, ‘You are as important today as the president of the United States.’”

This was Kerber’s first time in Washington, D.C., and he appreciated seeing the Vietnam Veterans memorial, the World War II

memorial and the Korean War memorial. What impressed him most, though, was the Air Force memorial and its missing-man formation.

When it was time to return to Iowa, Kerber and his fellow veterans were surprised by mail call on the plane. “When you were in the service, two days were very important to us—pay day and mail call,” Kerber said. “It was great to receive letters written by our family, and each one of us got a PayDay candy bar, too.”

Embracing freedom, family and patriotism

            Family is important to Kerber. He started his own family in his early 20s while he was in the Air Force. His daughter, Angela, was born October 14, 1967, less than a week before he shipped out on October 20 for overseas duty.

“I missed out on her early years,” said Kerber, who knew Angela didn’t recognize him when he returned home. “She started crying when I gave her mom a hug and a kiss.”

Kerber doesn’t regret his military service, though. He had been employed by a lumberyard in Fenton where he worked in construction before enlisting in the Air Force at age 20. “I loved being a crew chief,” Kerber said. “I liked being outside and enjoyed working on aircraft.”

While Kerber was stationed in Thailand, far removed from the worst battles in Vietnam, conditions weren’t always easy. “It was so hot, plus there was monsoon season, so our barracks were about 2 to 3 feet off the ground.”

All those memories were part of the past, though, for Kerber, who farmed for 30 years near Fenton until 2000. He also hauled livestock, mainly feeder pigs, for four years and became an over-the-road trucker for one year. In 2004, he started a new job as a trucker for MaxYield.

“I hauled everything but fuel,” Kerber said. “I mostly hauled grain and fertilizer, and I saw the whole company with my route.”

That freedom appealed to Kerber. “I loved trucking for MaxYield. It would have driven me nuts to sit in one spot all day.”

Since he retired in 2010, Kerber stays active in the local community. He sings bass with the Cornbelt Chorus barbershop group, which is based in Algona. The group performs concerts in Algona and Emmetsburg each March. They also offer church sing outs once or twice a year. The group selects a town, contacts a local church and schedules a Sunday performance.

Barbershop is fun,” Kerber said. “We want to get back into competitions, too.”

Kerber also enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife, Ruth, their children and 17 grandchildren. Many of his family and friends came to Fort Dodge when the May 12 Honor Flight landed at the airport around 11 p.m.

“My wife says I’m a soft-hearted veteran. The Honor Flight, Memorial Day and the 4th of July get me right here,” said Kerber, tapping his chest over his heart. “When someone asked if I’d do the Honor Flight again if I could, and I said, ‘Yes, in a heartbeat.’”