Friday
Apr142017

Anne's Accounting - April 2017

Dear Patrons of Equity Elevator & Trading Co.,

As we all anxiously await spring, the Easter bunny and baby animals on the farm, there is another occasion that is on my mind these days. Our youngest son Jack is graduating from high school this year so we are sanding hard wood floors in our old house and trying to ‘pull all our projects—oh too many?!’ together before we celebrate. It seems like just yesterday when Jack was recycling Equity Elevator water bottles to feed his baby lambs and having George deliver feed from the mill for his sheep. I sure do miss those days already!


Around graduation time, our country will observe another Memorial Day holiday in remembrance of the men and women who have died for our country while serving in the military. Recently, our uncle Knute Jr. (Budd) Kvistad passed away at the age of 97. He was the last of his siblings left, and my sister Mary said “now Grandma Carrie will have all her children with her in heaven.” With both our sons now being about the same age, I can’t even imagine how Grandma felt years ago when she had two young sons called to serve in World War II after the bombing in Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. A couple farm boys from Minnesota - that meant the world to their family - joined millions of other Americans in what proved to be the deadliest conflict in human history with over 50 million people being killed worldwide. 

In the last few years of his life when we would visit him at the Granite Falls Manor, Knute talked a little more about his time in the United States Navy. He told me he always had a soft spot for my Dad because as a little boy, Dad held onto his pant leg because he didn’t want his older brother to leave home to be in the Navy. Although they left from the same farm house (coincidentally the house I grew up in and the one our family lives in today), Knute and his oldest brother Owen would have different God given paths where our country wanted them to be to keep our nation free and safe.

Owen had a 10th grade education and started out in the United States Army. After two years, the Army was splitting into three forces. Owen figured ‘there was only one way to go in life and that was up’ so he applied to the cadet officer training in the United States Army Air Forces. He was competing amongst college graduates, and my brother Tom remembers Grandma telling him that Owen called home to ask Grandma to send him Algebra and other high school class books so he could study them on his own. As it turned out, our uncle Owen received a superior rating in flight school. Years later he told Tom that “it was one of those days when everything went perfect,” the day he took the test so he was chosen to be a flight instructor at the Air Force base at Luke Field in Texas. He trained other pilots how to fly the B-29 and taught 10 man crews how to work together. When they would fly in formation (like the geese Owen saw up in the sky back home), Owen was the command pilot. A farm boy with a 10th grade education also got to fly the Memphis Belle before it went over to Europe on combat missions.

Although it seemed unlikely being part of the Navy, Knute also was ‘in the air’ like his brother, however, he was thousands of miles away in England. I came to learn in one of our conversations, where he inadvertently dropped a hint when he talked about Joe transporting explosives and dying - that he was talking about Joe Kennedy Jr. - a fellow US Navy air patrolman. 

Knute’s squadron was one of 20, American and British, that flew bomber flights over the Bay of Biscay in B-24 airplanes searching for German U-boats in the water. His role on the 10 man crew was the Radio Operator where he set up the radios for each flight. Communications with the base during these missions were usually by code only and on specific frequencies. The spelling bee champion of Yellow Medicine County was tasked with listening for code words that could mean life or death for him and his crewmates. Knute flew on 42 of these missions searching for German submarines that were preventing supplies getting to the Allied Forces. Knute said in the first few months of their arrival in England, they lost one third of their flight crews and one half of the aircrafts - decades later and as an old man, that still weighed heavy on his mind and heart. 

 


Knute was awarded medals including The Distinguished Flying Cross. For his memorial service, Tom played a song he had composed on the piano titled ‘Flying High’ in tribute of our uncles Owen and Knute for their service to our country. But their service is one story in a sea of many; we all know men and women who have served and are serving today - their commitment should not be taken lightly but rather greatly respected!

After doing some researching online and some ‘family research’ (in other words a few phone calls with Tom), things have much more clarity in my mind now - because although neither of these men wanted any accolade for the time they served and rarely talked about it, their paths continued to manifest as they went through life. Owen was a gifted teacher and living next door to us in the little house on our farm, he taught me and my siblings (along with our parents) the golden rule and so many other things. In Tom’s words ‘he could paint a panoramic picture for us by saying only a few words.’  Owen was so kind and generous that he helped with my expenses while I was going to college. I guess he didn’t want me out in this big world like he was without a college education! 

Everything Owen did was definite and with purpose. Years ago, when he was near the end of his life (also at the Granite Falls manor), I had gone into labor with Kolten and the pain had subsided for a while. Jon and I decided to go get some ice cream (because we all know that’s what makes pregnant ladies happy). We stopped by the manor, and Owen put his hand on my belly. A week later he passed away and in his billfold they found two laminated items; one with pictures of his wife and daughter and the other was his certification card where he received the superior rating at the United States Air Force cadet training.  

And his younger brother Knute was a gifted communicator. He taught me that listening to what others are saying is important and the art of conversation. I always got a kick out of how he was intrigued with my cell phone - all the capabilities it had to communicate with others - and he loved to do crossword puzzles. But to put that in perspective – his life and the lives of so many others in WWII depended on communication. In comparison to the communications they had at that time - before cell phones, there were rugged field phones with D batteries that were cranked to ring phones of other military personnel. Before the internet, dogs were trained to carry messages in the trenches and miles upon miles of telegraph cables were laid. Before GPS (that we take for granted on our cell phones), maps and radar were used. And back home, before computers, my Grandma Carrie was doing some ‘copy and paste’ of her own, cutting out newspaper articles into a scrapbook and Bible verses out of magazines.

So this Memorial Day, I will visit Knute’s grave next to my Dad and thank the good Lord above for those two farm boys from Minnesota - Owen Andrew and Knute Otis - who helped shape who I am today and for their sacrifice along with so many other veterans! I will look up to the sky and smile because I know they will be ‘Flying High.’ 

Have a blessed Easter,
Anne M. Anderson
Controller

Administrative Team:  Jennifer Hinz & Kristy Meier

Tuesday
Mar292016

Anne's Accounting - March 2016

Somewhere Over the Co-Op

Dear patrons,

I hope this newsletter finds you happy and healthy! I had the opportunity to go to management training (the first part in December and the second part in January). The training focused on several areas including: goal setting, financial analysis, inventory management, budgeting, strategic planning, managing a diverse team, conflict management, effective feedback, delegation and selling your co-op value.

One of the illustrations they explained was a tractor where the tractor is the structure, the wheels are the mission and the hubs are the goals. All these things need to be in alignment for your tractor (organization) to run smoothly. Co-ops are a form of business organization and they were started years ago by a group of people who decided to accomplish some activities cooperatively because this was more efficient and effective than going it alone. That made me wonder what the discussions were over a century ago at Equity Elevator & Trading Co. among the farmers that formed our co-op. Also, where did those discussions happen… at one of the farmers' homes, out in the field or maybe at church? (One thing I was sure of wherever they were, they had a cup of coffee in their hands.) When I think of Equity Elevator, I think of you… our patrons. I also picture my coworkers and our board of directors. Add that all up and the words ‘Faith, Family and Farming’ pop into my mind. Those same values that our co-op’s foundation was built upon over 100 years ago sustain us today!    

We had a strategic planning assignment in between the two classes but they also asked us to read a short booklet about ‘Cooperative Principles & Practices’. That ended up being one of the most interesting parts of the class for me and on the last day, we were divided into groups to ‘teach’ our instructors about what we had learned about co-ops. We had a limited amount of time to put together a presentation and we were told that skits and songs were worth extra points. Our group was posed with the question of explaining how cooperatives operate. 

I fell into the role of Dorothy where I had landed ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow Co-op’ and Toto and I were not in Kansas anymore! I asked questions of the other members in my group - the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Glinda (the good witch) - to help me understand how a co-op team functions.

The Tin Man explained to me about members. Co-op members receive many benefits from belonging to a co-op. In turn, they also have several responsibilities. One responsibility is to buy the co-op’s products and services. Another responsibility is to help the co-op grow by encouraging new patronage. In addition, co-op members provide a portion of the capital that is needed. Lastly, co-op members should participate actively by attending the annual meeting and asking questions throughout the year. Overall, your membership in Equity Elevator & Trading Co. denotes responsibility. You and all the patrons of years gone by are the heart and soul of Equity Elevator!

The Scarecrow told me about the board of directors, who are elected to represent the members. He also explained that being selected as a director is an honor. They are responsible for the financial health of the co-op and establish all policies that guide the operation. Also, they keep members informed of the performance at the co-op and hire the manager. In the movie when Dorothy was not sure about which fork in the road to take, she was surprised when the Scarecrow gave her direction. Later, the Wizard of Oz told the Scarecrow, "Experience is the only thing that brings knowledge." In other words, each choice our board makes will take our co-op closer toward what we are meant to become… our directors are charged with the task to see beyond today! Lastly, the Scarecrow said that you should always follow your heart, but never forget to take your brain with you. 

The Cowardly Lion, we all know, was looking for courage. He expressed to Dorothy that courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, we will try again tomorrow. Does that remind you of anyone at our co-op? Managers develop goals and plans to reach the objectives set by the directors. Also, they direct day-to-day operations and oversee the employees. They help employees improve their skills and abilities and ensure the best use of their talents. Wise leaders keep their people moving down the yellow brick road - they deal head-on with obstacles, stay true to their values and mission, always expect and give help along the way. 

Just as important, employees must understand the purpose and value of their job. Often the only contact members have with a co-op might be with billing, a truck driver or the person that loads up their order. If employees are efficient and friendly, this will do much to attract patronage and build favorable attitudes toward the co-op. Employees’ hard work, dedication and outlook (representing the co-op in a favorable light at all times) is key to the success of a cooperative. Employees are charged with the responsibility of doing their jobs to the very best of their ability. I am proud to be here at Equity Elevator with this group of employees. They put in long hours during the busy seasons and sometimes are asked to give up family time to do so… also, some of the conditions in which they work - especially during these cold days - is remarkable! Also, I see the future of our cooperative as our younger employees learn and grow.

Glinda revealed to me that if I closed my eyes and tapped the heels of my ruby red slippers together three times… well in my case, my cowboy boots…I would find out what I knew all along: there’s no place like home!

Somewhere over the co-op, I realized how important ALL of our responsibilities are for us to be successful and in selling Equity Elevator & Trading Co.’s value!! They maybe considered ‘old fashioned’ concepts, but they still hold true today. We had our six-month review with CLA and our balance sheet looks sound with the addition of the new bin and updates at the elevator. 

Anne Anderson
Controller

Administrative Team: Pam Redetzke, Jennifer Hinz & Kim Ose

Friday
Dec042015

Anne's Accounting - December 2015

It’s hard to believe we are almost to December… another year drawing to a close. Before we wrap it up, I want to tell you about some of the exciting things that have been happening at Equity Elevator. We helped Wood Lake celebrate 75 years of the fair, and I took this pic at our annual meeting... I told them I wanted to take a picture of ‘the neighbors’ Karen Appeldorn, Alice Kvistad (my Mom), and Jerome and Darlene Timm.  Besides the dear people in these pictures, I like what’s also in them… our elevator and the American flag.   

   

Speaking of the flag, cue up Lee Greenwood singing “Proud to be an American” on this harvest picture of the Hinz family. We are very glad that the timing worked out (with their twin girls starting kindergarten) to have Jennifer Hinz back as an employee doing our Accounts Payable. Another great pic is Jennifer’s husband Ben with their daughter Kiara - looks like she is one of Dad’s best helpers on their farming operation.

     

George Neville retired after driving feed truck for our elevator 10 years. Thanks George for getting the feed to our patrons rain or shine… we will miss you but wish you the best in retirement! Jory Bossuyt from Clarkfield (a Lakeview and SDSU graduate) started as our Grain Merchandiser. He helped out on his first day to cover one of our big bunkers. He’s in the picture on the right along with Caden Laleman, Reed Raddatz, Rod Winter, Jim Disbrow (seasonal grain), Brooks Torke and Jared Bakken. We also have two new employees in our feedmill - Tony Johnson from Cottonwood and Terry VanOverbeke from Hanley Falls is a new driver. We appreciate all the hard work and time our employees put in during harvest… a big shout out to Johnnie Brandts and Nathan Bahn in Grain. Our elevator took in a record number of bushels this fall!

     

Have a wonderful Christmas Season and God bless you as you gather with family and friends!    

Anne Anderson
Controller

Administrative Team: Pam Redetzke, Jennifer Hinz & Kim Ose