Farm Horizons, December 2016
Hokenson is Winsted Farmers Co-op’s new manager
By Jennifer Von Ohlen
When coming into Winsted on the south side of town, one can see a gas station on the left-hand side that services around 200 people a day. This business offers more than gas, however. It is a farmers’ co-op, with 300-350 patrons, and it is under new management.
Winsted Farmers Co-op Creamery, located on Babcock Avenue, received a new manager recently, Jered Hokenson.
While growing up three miles west of Watertown, Hokenson’s roots in agriculture started at his family farm, raising beef cattle and baling hay throughout his youth.
Following graduation from Dakota Wesleyan University with a degree in business, Hokenson started getting into a variety of work.
He worked sales at Midwest Machinery in Howard Lake for a couple years, and also eventually opened a few Snap Fitness locations.
After marrying Holly Bjorklund, Hokenson moved toward his wife’s hometown near Gaylord, and worked as a data analyst at Wakefield Pork for three years.
In time, however, he started searching for a new opportunity.
“I was sitting in the chair too much, in front of the computer [too much],” Hokenson said. “So, I was looking for things that I would be more active with,” and took a job at Jungclaus Implement, Inc. in Glencoe last November.
This line of work had Hokenson making a few sales in the Winsted area, and eventually he happened to meet the wife of one of the co-op’s board of directors.
The two of them ended up talking for about an hour, and during their conversation, the woman mentioned the co-op’s board was in search of a new manager. Hokenson instantly said he was interested in the position, which he officially started Sept. 12.
“It kinda combined all my prior experience into one position, it seemed like,” Hokenson commented. “My education is not agronomy, but I worked for my parents’ [and] neighbors’ farms for several years. That’s what I enjoy. And then the business side of things, with my Snap Fitness locations and sales experience, and data analyst stuff I had a pretty wide range of experience. I got to combine the analytical side of how I think with the business side, and apply it to the agronomy. So, that’s some of all the things I enjoy.”
“So far, I like it,” he added.
One of the greatest pleasures Hokenson has found while working the co-op is meeting the different customers who come through, and then learning some of them know his relatives in Watertown.
Hokenson said that so often customers ask him, “‘Do you know so-and-so?’ and it turns out he’s my grandpa.”
While having only been on the job for about three months, Hokenson has already been looking for ways to move the co-op forward.
“I’ve just been looking for ways to incorporate other lines of service or products that will still go with our current business model,” he stated.
He continued, “I’m looking for business opportunities that we can expand, without having to put ourselves at risk financially, and things we can do in the short run that will work with our current employees and our business model.”
As he continues to face the challenge, Hokenson said he is looking forward to learning more about the co-op’s operation, the people it serves, and the employees behind it.
“Relying on their experience has been critical for someone new to how a co-op operates,” stated Hokenson. “Beverly Hoffman, Alan Deidrick, Tom Kieser, and John Krueger have all been critical in making it a smooth transition. And of course Gary Deidrick for his lifetime of service to the co-op and community.”