“Better care through better maintenance, it's that simple”

posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017

“The only way that we can ensure our pigs are receiving the best possible care is by keeping the barns safe and well-maintained at all times,” said Jerry Ackerman, a repair and maintenance technician that has been instrumental in getting sow 36 up and running. “Better care through better maintenance, it’s that simple.”

Although Jerry has been with Iowa Select Farms for more than 10 years, he has not always been a familiar face in the sow farms. “I started out as a contracted site manager caring for more than 35,000 finishing spaces,” explained Jerry. “At that time, we were already doing the majority of our maintenance and upkeep so although I was looking for a new challenge, it was a fairly smooth transition to a full-time role within the company.”

For the past four years, Jerry has been working closely with finishing managers in western Iowa; however, he recently made a switch to the sow system. In his current role, he supports Sow 31 in Holstein and Sow 36 in George. “When Iowa Select Farms purchased this farm (Sow 36) last year I knew we wanted to hit the ground running, so I did my part to quickly get fans, heaters and feed lines in the best shape possible.”

Mark Lee, the Sow 36 farm supervisor, says that Jerry is an important member of the team. “When it comes to a maintenance tech, we couldn’t ask for any better. Jerry is enthusiastic, proactive and dependable. Rather than waiting around for us to submit maintenance requests, he is assertive and takes care of issues on the farm as he sees them.” Mark continued, “He is committed to excellent animal care and has far exceeded our expectations. He serves the farm well.”

In addition to Jerry, Iowa Select Farms relies on 23 Sow/GDU R&M technicians and project managers throughout the state to keep our sow farms up and running. From routine and seasonal maintenance to emergency repairs, the R&M team is committed to keeping farms running smoothly so that sow farm managers and employees can focus their efforts on providing excellent pig care.

“Our repair and maintenance team is a special group of guys,” said Tracy Borkowski, Director of Production Maintenance. “They’re hardworking, dependable and embrace the growth of our system. Prior to Jerry, there was no full-time maintenance tech at Sow 36 and he jumped at the opportunity to help. He embodies the hard-working culture of Iowa Select Farms and we’re lucky to have him.”

When asked what he enjoys most about his new role, Jerry hardly missed a beat when he exclaimed, “the people!” Although he will forever be grateful for the friends he made and knowledge gained from the finishing R&M crew, there’s something unique about joining the sow side. “Now that I’m working on the sow team, I really appreciate the additional time that I’m able to spend on one farm,” said Jerry. “In finishing I was hitting a minimum of five sites per day. It’s nice to stay on one farm from 7 AM to 4 PM and focus on more than just emergency fixes. I can do preventative maintenance and also build relationships with the employees that work here. It’s been a very rewarding career change.”

From adding Jerry as a full-time maintenance tech to a new manager, supervisor and employees, it’s been an eventful couple of months for Sow 36! “It’s been a busy time, but we’re not planning on slowing down any,” said Jerry. “I see how hard the new team at Sow 36 is working to stay at the top of the SelectPride production rankings and it’s going to take all hands on deck to keep them there, mine included, but we are up for the challenge!” #billionplus