Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 21, 1999

Farmers elevator looks to team work for success

By Luis Puga

As the new manager at the Winsted Farmers Elevator, Mark Diers talks very little about himself.

Rather, he emphasizes that the key to the elevator's success with customers will be in working as a team.

Diers brings his own background in sales and management to his new position, however, he is also relying on Bill Graham and Tom Schaust to contribute their expertise as well.

Schaust has a strong background in grinding and mixing feed and grain; and Graham knows customer service, sales, and feed delivery.

"Those guys have been there (at the elevator) for a number of years. I wouldn't say it's a new way of business, but a way to enhance business in the community," said Diers of the changes at the elevator.

The example of success, however, comes from the previous manager, Vern Christenson, and long time employees of the elevator.

Said Diers, "We're very happy to be following Vern. We had a good groundwork set for us."

That groundwork has customers still asking about the now-retired Christensen.

Diers will be looking to establish that kind of relationship with his customers, as well. He notes that both Graham and Schaust are good local people, who are familiar to the elevator's customers.

Establishing familiarity with the area farmers is important. The elevator provides many services and establishing trust will keep the farmers coming back.

The elevator, of course, provides storage and grain banking. It also sells seed, animal health products, feed, and provides grinding services. Its customers come from Winsted, Howard Lake, Lester Prairie, Silver Lake, Watertown, and the surrounding areas.

Working around McLeod for the past 12 1/2 years, Diers is happy to be back in Winsted and talks about retiring here some day. As such, he's purchased a homestead farm just north of Winsted that's been in his family for five generations.

Diers said business is good right now, even with many farmers working in the field.

On top of that is concern for the farm crisis that has been plaguing all farmers across the nation.

Diers said it is definitely affecting business, but added, "We're very happy to be serving the local farmers and agricultural people in the area." This includes both large and small farmers, part-time or full-time.

Diers said he is very happy to work with his team, and emphasized the importance of that concept. He said in his past work in sales, he has always worked as a member of a team.

Beyond that, he enjoys working in Winsted. "There are a lot of friends in the area I'm going to be working with,""he said.

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