November 13, 2019

Celebrating a Century of Solutions

West Bend RailBy Keith Heim, CEO

In 1915, World War I raged in Europe, the transcontinental telephone service debuted in America when Alexander Graham Bell called San Francisco from New York, and northwest Iowa farmers gathered to create a new cooperative.

The first stockholders’ meeting for the West Bend Elevator Company (WBEC) was held on April 6 at 2 p.m., with Henry Dunn elected president. The cooperative was incorporated on May 29, 1915. As we celebrate your cooperative’s 100th anniversary this year, it’s worth looking back on the company’s remarkable history.

To me, 2015 is a major milestone for MaxYield and its predecessor, WBEC, as well as the other cooperatives that have unified with the company along the way. While some people say 100 years in business is no big deal, I say it’s a huge deal. A recent business article made this point in reference to corporate sustainability. In the late 1800s, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was made up of 12 companies. By 1929, 11 of those 12 no longer existed. That was only a 40-year period, not even close to the 100-year mark.

That pattern also exists in the cooperative world. In 1950, there were about 710 grain elevator/farm supply cooperatives in Iowa, which equates to about seven per county. Today, the number of grain elevator/farm supply cooperatives in Iowa has plunged to 58, and the trend continues.

Sometimes people are quick to dismiss the 100th anniversary because they say MaxYield wasn’t the original company that started in 1915. History has proven, however, that companies built to last adapt to meet the changes that transform their industry.

Think of how much Iowa agriculture has evolved since 1915. MaxYield has had to evolve, too, to meet the needs of our clients. Just like our clients, we would not be in business if we hadn’t changed in the past 100 years by adopting new technologies, shutting down business units that were no longer profitable, and growing for the future.

While MaxYield isn’t your grandfather’s or great-grandfather’s cooperative, we continue to embrace the cooperative principles that the company’s founders valued. Principles that have stood the test of time. Throughout 2015, we’ll be highlighting MaxYield’s unique history through our website, magazine, radio advertisements, client events this summer, and more.

It has been an amazing journey for your cooperative in the past 100 years, and we look forward to the next 100 years. Congratulations and thank you to all the stockholders, directors, team members, and clients who have made MaxYield the successful cooperative it is today.

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