December 10, 2019

Meet Ben Buie, MaxYield’s New Grain Team Leader

What does a field of milo have to do with grain marketing at MaxYield Cooperative? A lot, now that Ben Buie has joined the company as the new grain team leader.

“I used to work for a feed processor in New Mexico, and the second year I was there, farmers had grown a beautiful crop of milo that was 4 feet tall, green and lush,” said Buie, who joined MaxYield in early September. “I started selling that crop, but then the weather turned hot and dry. When temperatures shot up to 110 degrees, farmers started cutting the milo for silage.”

The experience left a lasting impression on Buie, who has been working with Harry Bormann, MaxYield’s current grain team leader, to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities.

“I learned you can’t always count on a crop in that part of the world, so you have to be lean and efficient to sustain your business. That really got drilled into me, along with the importance of not counting your crop before it’s in the bin.”

Buie brings a wealth of practical experience like this to MaxYield, thanks to his 22-year career in the grain industry. “I’ve worked from the Upper Midwest to the Southwest and have seen a lot of different ways of going about the grain business,” he said. “This has given me some unique perspectives into solutions for grain industry challenges.”  

Q: What’s your ag background?

A: Both of my parents grew up on farms, and I’ve been around agriculture my whole life. I grew up in Missouri and Illinois. My dad was a controller for a river terminal. I lived in bigger cities like Kansas City and small towns like Beardstown, Illinois.

Q: What do you enjoy about agriculture?

A: I love seeing the fertile ground and watching seeds transform into green crops that turn into the food we eat, the fuel we use in our vehicles and a thousand other products we all use every day. I love being a little part in a big system that creates things we need to survive and thrive.

Q: What’s your educational background?

A: I studied civil engineering early in my college career, since I like math and problem solving. I also like working with people, so I switched my major to economics. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Illinois in 1996. I later went back to school and earned my Master of Business Administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 2001.

Q: Where has your career taken you?

A: After earning my economics degree, I took a job as a feed ingredient merchandiser for Garvey Processing, Inc. in St. Charles, Illinois. I also sold feed to customers in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Then the company transferred me to its New Mexico location, where I was a feed sales manager and grain originator. I moved to New Mexico in 1997 and lived in the Southwest for 13 years. Through 2006 I continued working for Garvey Processing in Portales, New Mexico, as a sales manager. That’s a big region for dairy production, and I enjoyed interacting with the dairy farmers, who are hard-working and family-oriented. After J. D. Heiskell & Co. (the fourth largest feed manufacturer in the United States) bought the feed facility in Portales, they moved the headquarters to Amarillo, Texas. I became J. D. Heiskell’s grain merchandising manager from 2006 to 2011.

Q: What brought you back to Iowa?
A:
We wanted to be closer to our family in the Midwest. In 2012, I began a new role as grain division manager for ECI Cooperative based in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I worked there six and a half years before coming to MaxYield.  

Q: What attracted you to MaxYield?
A:
MaxYield has a great reputation in the ag industry. I knew some of the team members, since I had bought some Enogen® corn to go into our feed mill when I was at ECI Cooperative. MaxYield has great team members, financial strength to run the business the right way and the resources to grow.

Q: What do you value about the cooperative system?

A: I appreciate the co-op’s focus on its clients and the commitment to serve them. This includes sharing the financials. After working in private industry, it was a pretty big shock for me to walk into a co-op and see the financials sitting on the front counter. Private companies tend to be tight-lipped about how the business is doing financially.

Q: What keeps you motivated?

A: Iowa farmers have integrity and take a lot of pride in how they do business. I look forward to serving our clients and building on the strong foundation that Harry Bormann maintained for years at MaxYield.

Editor’s note: Ben Buie and his wife, Stella, have two children, including Lucas, 17, and Moira, 15. Ben has coached many of his son’s youth sports teams, including soccer, basketball, flag football and baseball. Buie’s wife was a theater professor with a specialty in costume design, and daughter Moira is also interested in this area. In his free time, Buie enjoys reading, walking the family’s three dogs and cheering for the Fighting Illini.

SIDEBAR/PULL QUOTE

Keith Heim, MaxYield CEO, on Ben Buie’s role 

“Ben grew up around this business, has grain trading experience, country grain elevator experience and has led some elevator expansion projects. The geographic diversity of his professional background is also good for MaxYield. There’s no doubt Ben will do an excellent job.”

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