Southern Iowa Farm Manager Celebrates 20 Years with Iowa Select Farms

posted on Monday, July 20, 2020

Congratulations to Larry for celebrating 20 years with Iowa Select Farms!

Since starting his career as an animal caretaker at Jones Sow 18, Larry has worked at nearly every farm in the “Ponderosa”, as we call it at Iowa Select Farms. Six months ago, his career came full-circle when he stepped into the manager position at Sow 18.

“To be quite honest, I never thought I would be here for this long,” chuckled Larry. “After growing up on a pig farm I told myself I’d explore other options for something bigger and better, but I’ve been challenged every day for the last twenty years. Who knew the bigger and better things were right in front of me?”

Although he just recently stepped into the manager role at Sow 18, Larry has been at the farm for the past ten years, seven of which were spent as a department head and three as the farm’s assistant manager. Heck, he even met his wife, Denise, at the farm 18 years ago—coincidence? We’ll leave that up to you.

Aside from the people and laid-back culture of the farm, what Larry enjoys most about his job is the positive impact he makes every single day, specifically in the farrowing barns. “Every time I walk into a farrowing room, I have an opportunity to save a pigs’ life—how cool is that,” he said. “You can see your hard work pay off every single day. It’s a very rewarding job.”

In between working as an entry level animal caretaker and farm manager, Larry also worked as department head at Sow 19 and 22. His tenure and many years of on-farm experience have taught him the keys to success for a manager are leading by doing, sharing your knowledge and taking the time to train your team.

“I know patience isn’t always the easiest thing on farm, especially if you’re getting a load of gilts in, or multiple,” he laughed (can you tell his farm received 1400 gilts last week?). “But it definitely pays off. I like to be in the barns, working right alongside my team teaching them all that I can. It takes time, for sure, but it allows us to become more efficient in the long run.”

Outside of work, Larry enjoys taking it easy alongside his wife, Denise, and their three pups Abby, Sadie and Joey. He also enjoys watching NASCAR and is excited that races are starting back up.
“I’m a pretty easy-going dude, but on-farm and off,” he said. “Which is why it might surprise people that what I enjoy most are the day-to-day challenges. No two days are the same and I love it. It’s nice to be kept on your toes.”

When he takes a step back to reflect back on the past 20 years, the things that stand out the most to Larry are the improvements in production, especially when it comes to born alive and total born. “The number of pigs we get out the door now is amazing,” he said. “We used to aim for an 8-9 wean average, now it’s 12-14. Thanks to genetics, barn design and improved herd health we’re able to get more efficient. You can really see how the company has strived to get better every single year and I’m grateful to have been here for the majority of it.”

Congrats on 20 years, Larry! We appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to continuous improvement.