From General Contracting, Garrick Newkirk of Emmetsburg, has Now Found His Career with Iowa Select Farms
“I never could have imagined how much work actually goes into making the bacon,” joked finishing supervisor, Garrick Newkirk. “If I’ve learned anything in this job, it’s that pigs are the easy part.”
After starting his own construction business in 2012, Garrick began to desire two things that entrepreneurs commonly long for—benefits and stability.
“I had basically been doing construction since I was 12 and decided it was time for a change,” said Garrick. “I wasn’t sure what that change was going to be, but I knew it needed to be a career. Somewhere that I could see myself for the next 20 to 30 years.”
Living in Emmetsburg with his wife, Stephanie, and four young children, Garrick knew that he’d have to find something close to home. Moving his family was not an option. He started doing his research—and lots of it—and found himself coming back to a finishing supervisor job posting with Iowa Select Farms.
“I kept thinking, there’s no way I could do that,” said Garrick, who aside from the occasional hay baling job as a high schooler, didn’t have any experience with farm work. “But in that same thought, I’d convince myself that I could see myself in that role. I knew I could do it.”
After much thought and conversation with his wife, Garrick decided to apply. He received his first interview with HR, then a second with leaders from the grow-finish team.
His first few months were spent alongside longtime supervisor, Chris Smith learning the basics about animal care—feed, air and water.
“Although Garrick didn’t have any prior experience working with pigs, he wasn’t afraid to ask questions,” said Chris. “That is one of the best things a new supervisor can do and it’s proven successful for Garrick. He’s caught on quickly and is a real pleasure to work with.”
In addition to his training with Chris, Garrick spent time with finishing animal caretaker trainer, Craig Schrage, who works closely with employees and contractors on fundamentals of pig care and production practices.
“I really enjoyed working alongside Garrick because he was very curious and wanted to learn as much as possible,” said Craig. “It just goes to show that if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, try hard and learn something new, you can excel.”
Now ten months in, Garrick oversees 15 farms and a team of eight managers. His days start early around 5 or 6AM and often end late, but he still has no regrets about his recent career change.
“The people are the best part about the job,” he smiled. “I went from working by myself to having a team of managers that rely on me daily, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my team. The more we communicate, the better we work together. We’re all grinding towards the same goals.”
In addition to working closely with farm managers, Garrick is responsible for ensuring all farms have necessary supplies, identifying and treating health concerns, daily animal and farm care, marketing, ventilation and working with pump crews in the spring and fall. Although it’s a complete 180 from his life as a general contractor, Garrick is already looking forward to the next 10, 15 and even 20 years with Iowa Select Farms.
“I think it’s important that no matter the career path you choose, you find something that will challenge you and also provide opportunities for growth,” he said. “There’s no shortage of that in this job and it makes me really excited for the future.”