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We Are Beck’s: Neoga Location Spotlight

Published on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Halfway between Indianapolis and St. Louis, a small-but-mighty seed processing facility pops out of the prairie in the town of Neoga, Illinois. Beck’s Hybrids has been exclusively processing seed at Neoga since 2009, when Beck’s alliance with Brown Seed Enterprises was formed. Beck’s invested in an equipment overhaul and soon was producing high-quality, Escalate™-treated soybeans and wheat for the western part of our marketing region. Jim Herr, Beck’s processing manager, oversees all processing facilities and had this to say of Neoga, “The team at Neoga has fit into the Beck’s culture so easily over the past few years that it seems like they’ve been a part of Beck’s forever.”

Kate Ruholl, Grower Manager at Neoga, has been working with Beck’s since 2009 – first as a part of the alliance and later as a full-time employee. Her role is to work with a network of growers who have contracts to produce soybean and wheat seed for Beck’s. This group of farmers adheres to strict quality guidelines during the growing season, pre-harvest inspections, and storage requirements to ensure that high quality seed is delivered to the processing team. When Kate started, there were 30 growers supplying the seed and six or seven employees at the facility. The Neoga facility has steadily grown since becoming a Beck’s facility. In fall of 2015, the plant moved from one to two shifts during the busy winter season as demand for more soybean and wheat seed grew. Today, Kate manages over 100 growers, there are 15 full-time and four part-time employees. The little plant on the prairie is now a dynamic player on the Beck’s team.

This fall, Beck’s made another investment in Neoga by adding an additional processing line. A processing line for the wheat and soybean facilities consists of a seed cleaner, color sorter, gravity table, treater, and packaging equipment for boxes or bags. In November, the plant moved from one line and one shift to operating two processing lines for two shifts with very few additional employees. Steve Meinhart, Neoga Location Manager, said that they can manage the additional responsibilities with the current team because the crew that spent the summer washing seed boxes transitioned to the processing line for the winter. A key component to the Neoga team’s success is that each individual has been trained to do multiple jobs. By investing in cross-training, employees understand the big picture of the work and can serve the needs of the team as a whole. This team can support the growth of Beck’s, and help farmers succeed, by working efficiently year-round to put a high-quality product on the market.

Beck’s culture is strong at the Neoga location, where teamwork, adaptability and innovation set the standard high for both the work product and the work environment. Steve Meinhart said that in a small facility, “there’s not a lot of space, we have to be close knit. We see everybody every day.” Staying connected and reinforcing the relationships among the team have contributed to the positive work environment. Kate Ruholl said, “One thing that has amazed me over the years is that despite the substantial growth of the company, the culture has remained the same. I still do not feel like I am just an employee number. It feels like family as we are allowed to pray together in times of need and thanksgiving.”

Steve said the most important work he does at Neoga is to be a good leader. Neoga’s success is a testament to his dedication and that of his team. Kate Ruholl’s favorite part of working at Beck’s is the people she works with, and the Beck family leadership. “Sonny and Scott go above and beyond to share the company’s plans and activities, and to show appreciation for employees’ efforts.” Jim Herr said, “The Neoga team’s teamwork and commitment to quality sets an example for all of us at Beck’s.” Clear communication, showing gratitude, and rallying behind the common mission of helping farmers succeed have built the Neoga team into the success story they are today.


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Samantha Miller

Samantha Miller

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