December 4, 2020

Homegrown Leader: Roger Allen Thrives Where He Was Planted

Roger Allen MaxYieldIf you’ve ever stopped by MaxYield Cooperative’s Britt location, there’s a good chance you’ve met Roger Allen. As the location leader, Roger is the right man for the job, especially since he’s worked for the co-op since 1979.

Here are five things you might not know about Roger that make us proud to have him on the MaxYield team:

1. Agriculture planted a seed early in Roger’s life. Raised on a 400-acre crop and livestock farm near Kanawha, Roger knew early on that he preferred the rural lifestyle. “I enjoyed the farm work and liked growing up in the country,” said Roger, who has six siblings. After graduating with his 21-member class of 1968 from Kanawha High School, Roger served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971 before returning to north-central Iowa. He began his career on the assembly line at Winnebago Industries and was later promoted to foreman. When business in the motorhome division slowed down, Roger also built prefabricated homes for Winnebago.

2. Roger’s roots run deep at the co-op in Britt. When Farmers Cooperative of Britt was growing in the late 1970s, Roger was hired to lead the company’s new liquid propane division in September of 1979. The co-op’s rapid expansion came at a heavy cost, however. “Around 1980, we were growing faster than what our capital would allow, and this led to a 30-day period when the employees didn’t get paid.” Board members and co-op supporters led a capital call to sell preferred stock and reached the $1 million goal, so the co-op’s lenders would refinance the business.

3. Roger goes with the grain. Through the years, Roger has handled just about every job at the co-op, from spraying to running the grain division. “I like buying grain, handling the grain settlements, and socializing with the farmers,” Roger said. One of the most memorable events in the grain division occurred in February of 1996. Despite a severe shortage of rail cars to haul grain, the co-op secured 25 coal cars. “We had to clean them out, and it was a filthy job,” Roger recalled. A photo in the Britt News-Tribune showed Skip Miller, Jim Miller, Al Burgardt, Ron Eisenman, and Dennis Hrubes volunteering to shovel frozen coal from the rail cars. After cracks in the cars were filled with a foam sealant to help contain the grain, each car was loaded with 3,200 bushels of corn. “Thanks to the employees and volunteers who helped with the coal cars, we were able to empty the elevator enough so that we could take all of the February contracts from farmers.”

4. The fire department yields many opportunities. Roger has served on Britt’s volunteer fire department almost as long as he has worked at the co-op. “I was asked to join the department in 1983,” said Roger, who later served as chief for 15 years. In those days, a lot less training was required for volunteer firefighters, added Roger, who can remember when fire calls were announced with two quick rings on each firefighter’s landline phone. House fires that occurred during the winter were some of the toughest to fight. “In the bitter cold, our 5-inch flow of water in the hoses could drop to a 2-inch flow, due to ice,” Roger said. Today, the Britt fire department deals with many more vehicle accidents than structure fires. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the teamwork that defines the 24-member fire department. “I like the camaraderie and being able to help others,” Roger said.

Roger Allen 402 Chevelle5. Roger knows a classic when he sees it. There’s nothing like the muscle cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, said Roger, who purchased a 1972 Chevelle SS at an auction last year. “I like cars I can drive, not ones I need to restore or need to keep in a glass house.” Roger entered his Chevelle in Clear Lake’s car show and parade and also participated in the 2012 car show during Britt’s National Hobo Convention. There will be another classic car in his future, added Roger, who’s leaning towards a 1969 or 1970 Nova, or perhaps a late 1960s-vintage Camero. “I’m going through my second childhood.”

Editor’s note: Roger Allen and his wife, Judy, have been married for 40 years. For 37 years they’ve lived in the same house in Britt, which is located three blocks from the co-op and near the Hancock County Memorial Hospital, where Judy manages the purchasing department. The couple has one daughter, Heather, who lives on a farm near Britt with her husband, Luke Noble, and their daughter, Chloie, 3. A lifetime member of the American Legion in Britt, Roger enjoys traveling, boating, and fishing at Clear Lake and Okoboji, and spending time with his family.

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