Doug Celebrates 25 Years with Iowa Select Farms
Congratulations to Doug who recently celebrated his 25th year on the Iowa Select Farms team!
Doug's first job with the company was at Jacobson Sow 7 in the breeding department. He might have worked in the farrowing department… if there were one. The farm was still being built when he started and although the breed and post breed barn were done, G1 and G2 were still being built. He remembers concrete being poured in the farrowing barns on his first day of work.
"Believe it or not, we were still getting gilts in, tagging, treating and getting them lined up to start breeding," he said. "They were very confident that they'd finishing farrowing on time, so we got to work doing our part. It was me, the farm manager and breeding department head at the time."
Fast forward 18 months and Doug was approached to start a mini boar stud lab at Arends Sow 14. He was responsible for the oversight of 65 boars, daily collection and distribution to Sows 10, 12, 13 and 14. Although things have changed so much since then, it's one of the farms Doug has the fondest, and perhaps funniest, memories of.
"I'll never forget when we had a massive snowstorm that kept the entire team at the farm for four days," he said. "We still had to get semen out to the farms, so we found a way to deliver it-by snowmobile."
Although the mini stud program at Iowa Select Farms was considered successful, they closed after three years when PRRS became an issue. It was evident that the company needed a more central location away from sows to protect farms from disease, and thus opened up Qualley Boar Stud near Dows.
Doug worked at Qualley along with longtime employees, Brian, Andy and Dave. As a kid who grew up on a diversified grain and pig breeding stock farm, he loved the opportunity to work at a brand-new, state-of-the-art farm that focused on breeding, selection and high quality pigs.
In 1999, Doug was approached by Brian to move down to southern Iowa to start up and work at Hasting Boar Stud. It was a difficult decision, especially after becoming especially involved in the community of Webster City, but he ultimately accepted and moved to Osceola with his sights set on a new adventure.
"Looking back, I am so glad that I accepted the opportunity because Brian has never had anything but the best in mind for his employees," said Doug. "He's done a lot for us, personally and professionally, and I'm grateful to have a supervisor like him. I can't imagine anyone better advocating for us and our department."
For the next ten years, Doug worked at Hastings where the team continued to improve and perfect their methods, all while growing their friendships. The boar stud group is arguably one of the most tenured departments at Iowa Select Farms and Doug credits it to the family-like atmosphere that has been established at their farms.
"We've become like a family that works in a rhythm," he explained. "Of course, there are days where we bicker, but we've always got each other's backs. Sometimes you don't even have to speak with someone to know if they're having a bad day, so you can just step in and help. We work really well as a team."
Two years ago, Doug made another huge career move, but this time it didn't require him changing zip codes. In 2019 Cheers, the company's newest Gene Transfer Center opened and the team from Hastings transferred the to the brand new farm which provides semen for all southern Iowa sow farms, GDUs and some other northern Iowa farms, as well.
"It was a very smooth opening and didn't take us long to get our bearings," Doug recalled. "Once we got rolling it's been nonstop."
The opening of a new farm was an opportunity for Doug to reflect on all the changes the company, and his career, have experienced over the years. When he started at the Sow 14 mini stud, they would supply 300-450 doses/day. Today, that number is anywhere between 2500-3500 doses/day.
"From breeding methods and efficiencies to filtration and new technologies, we are lightyears ahead in the boar studs now than when I first started," said Doug. "But even as we've grown and changed, we've always thought through things and looked ahead. That's something the company has been really good at and I know will continue to do moving forward."
Outside of work, Doug enjoys time with his sons, Dallas (16) and Brock (12) and stays busy as the Murray Jr. High Football Coach, Varsity Assistant Coach, wrestling coaching, 4-H leader and was on the fair board for 12 years. "I love helping the community and working with our youth to reach their potential," he said. "There's nothing like seeing that "aha!" moment int their eyes when it finally clicks."
As he looks towards the future, Doug is excited to see what the company is capable of. "The company has always been headed in the right direction with great leadership ever since I started," he said. "They do a great job of rewarding their employees and creating a work environment that maintains a small company feel. I see nothing but positive things for myself and Iowa Select Farms in the future."
Congratulations on 25 years, Doug! You've packed a lot of experiences into the past quarter decade and we are grateful to have you along for the ride.