Congratulations to Mary Kraft for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Mary Kraft for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms!
Formerly a Certified Nursing Assistant, Mary has always been drawn to jobs that involve providing care.
“I was in healthcare for years before I came here and a lot of people couldn’t understand why I would choose to care for pigs over people, so for years I felt bad,” she recalled. “But if I had the chance, I’d go back and tell myself that it doesn’t matter who or what you are helping or give your time, compassion and love to as long as it makes you feel good at the end of the day.”
Mary’s career with Iowa Select Farms started as an on-site gene transfer center (formerly boar stud) manager at Erickson Sow 23 in 1999. She was part of a handful of employees that worked for TIP farms before being acquired by Iowa Select Farms and managed the farm through the transition. After a year, Mary started working at the farm as a breeding lead and in 2005 was promoted to farm manager.
“The culture at our farm is definitely hard-working and goal-oriented, but we’re like a big family,” she said. “When someone is having a bad day, we step up to help out and let them do their own thing. The majority of us have been working together for years, so we know each other really well and work in somewhat of a rhythm.”
Between Mary, Dean Reddel, Theresa Schlotterback, Julie Hase, Dave Strike, Luann Hammon and Lindsay Larson, Sow 23 makes up one of the most tenured teams at Iowa Select Farms.
“In addition to everyone that has been there a while, our team of 11 employees is really solid,” explained Mary. “They make my job easier, enjoyable and rewarding. Going to work every day is fun when you’re looking forward to seeing your friends. I feel pretty lucky.”
As a manager, Mary’s days start out checking ventilation and troubleshooting any issues, walking through breeding, doing daily observations and checking water nipples. Then, it’s off to farrowing where she spends the majority of her days. Every week, Mary also makes sure to check the farm’s dormers, generator, do water meter readings, manure measurements and take care of general site overview and maintenance. And of course, she also takes the time to talk with her team.
“Besides the pigs, I love trying to figure people out and get the best out of them,” she said. “No two people are to be managed the same, as a manager you’ve got to take the time to get to know everyone on your team individually.”
Outside of work, Mary enjoys spending time with her family, renovating their home in Riceville and gardening. Her favorite flowers? “Perennials!” she joked. “I finally figured out that they’re a lot less work, which makes them my favorite.”
Her husband, Aaron, is also a sow farm manager at Iowa Select Farms, along with her daughter, Kaci Pohlman. Her sons, Jordan and Jake, also work at the company.
“I’m just so proud of them,” she beamed. “It’s fun when we get together because we’re all very competitive and give each other a hard time about production rankings, but there’s also a lot of back and forth getting ideas. A lot of ‘what would you do in this situation?’ conversations. I’m sure my other daughters, Taylor and Kylee, get annoyed with us talking about work, but it’s fun.”
Mary continued that it’s fun to see her children and their families enjoying the same things that were special to them growing up, like days at Adventureland and the Iowa State Fair.
“I think it’s just awesome that the company has grown so much but stayed committed to providing their employees and families with a great work environment and benefits,” she said. “All these years it’s continued to be a good job with great benefits and people. I feel lucky to be here.”
Congratulations on 20 years, Mary! We feel like the lucky ones to have you on our team.