November 24, 2020

Meet Mr. Fix-It: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Jeff Bonnstetter

Jeff BonnstetterA great mechanic is a fine balance of gearhead, detective, computer technician, and magician who can fix just about anything. Skilled mechanics are also vital to MaxYield Cooperative. That’s why we’re grateful to have a master mechanic like Jeff Bonnstetter as our shop supervisor in West Bend.

Here are five things that you might not know about Jeff:
1. Jeff grew where he was planted. Jeff grew up on a farm 3.5 miles north of West Bend. He wanted to farm for a career and decided to take some ag mechanics classes at Iowa Lakes Community College with his buddies. After earning his farm equipment mechanics degree in 1984, he accepted a job offer from Don Haverman at West Bend Elevator Company. Although Jeff didn’t have the opportunity to farm, he’s glad his work has kept him close to agriculture for 30 years. “I like the variety of work,” said Jeff, who works on everything from lawn mowers to semitrucks to TerraGators®.

2. Playing it cool pays off for Jeff. Mechanics have a lot to manage, from preventative maintenance to troubleshooting equipment breakdowns in the field. When tensions run high, Jeff’s calm, patient demeanor is a lifesaver. “Some days my phone is ringing every 10 minutes with someone needing something now,” Jeff said. “While it can get stressful, you just have to remember that you can only do one thing at a time.” He also thinks of the advice one of his college instructors repeated often. “The best tool you’ve got is observation,” Jeff said. “I also figure that if man put it together, man should be able to fix it.”

3. Jeff is a sports fan. Jeff played football, basketball, and baseball at West Bend-Mallard High School, in addition to running track. This athletic ability was passed on to his son, Mitch. “The first time I threw Mitch a baseball, he nailed it,” said Jeff, recalling a time when Mitch was about two or three years old. As Mitch grew, he also fine-tuned his football skills and became the quarterback and punter for West Bend-Mallard High School. Jeff helped Mitch practice his punting skills, working first on distance, then on height, first in the street in front of their house, then at the parking a lot by the Methodist Church, and finally at the high school football field. By the time Mitch graduated from high school in 2012, he had been named an all-state punter for three years in a row. He continued his football career at Iowa Central Community College, where he kicked an impressive 82-yard punt and became the number one junior college punter in the nation. “He was also named an All-American for two years in a row,” noted Jeff, who added that Mitch’s punts often clock a hang time of 4.5 seconds.

Mitch Bonnstetter will punt for Ohio University this fall. Tim Dahlhauser photo

Mitch Bonnstetter will punt for Ohio University this fall. Tim Dahlhauser photo

4. There’s a good reason why Jeff cheers for Ohio University. Mitch’s talent caught the attention of Division I coaches, including Frank Solich, who offered Mitch a full-ride athletic scholarship to Ohio University in Athens, OH. Mitch accepted and transferred to Ohio University in December of 2013. As #23 for the Bobcats, Mitch plays in the Mid-American Conference. He’s also majoring in sports management/psychology. “It was fun to go to Ohio in mid-April and watch his spring game,” said Jeff, who noted that Mitch is the first West Bend-Mallard graduate to play Division I football.

5. Jeff carries on MaxYield’s All Star tradition. Jeff doesn’t have much time off during the hectic spring agronomy season, when he and the MaxYield team put in however many hours it takes to get the job done. He credits his team members, including Tim Fuoss, John Keller, Bill Fuchsen, and Travis Pederson, for keeping everything running smoothly. “We’re not just mechanics,” added Jeff, who was a member of one of MaxYield’s first All Star teams. “We’re also tender drivers and applicator operators who pitch in where we’re needed.”

Jeff and his team are excited about MaxYield’s new 19,200-square-foot service facility that’s being built in West Bend to house the maintenance shop, service station, and tire inventory. “It will help us work more efficiently and keep things running,” said Jeff, who noted that the new shop will have two lifts, including one for heavy equipment, and four bays to accommodate routine work and emergency jobs. This focus on the future also energizes Jeff, who has appreciated the opportunity to grow his career at MaxYield. “I’m glad I can live and work in my hometown and help people out.”

Editor’s note: Jeff and his wife, Pam, who owns the home décor shop Pam’s Final Touch in West Bend, have three children, Tiffany, 25, who is getting married soon; Mitch, 21, a sophomore at Ohio University; and Kylee, 13, who will be in seventh grade this fall at West Bend-Mallard. In his free time, Jeff enjoys camping, fishing, hunting, and golfing.

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