Pinicon Farm Partnership

Family business relies on core values to diversify its operations
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Dana Merk-Wynne

The Koenigs name has become synonymous with farming in the McIntire, Iowa, area. It all began four generations ago when the founding patriarch immigrated to northern Iowa from Germany, and planted the seeds of the family’s farming legacy. Today, a love for the land as well as the practical skills required to sustain that heritage still run strong at Pinicon Farm, owned by the Jim Koenigs family. The company takes its name from the Wapsipinicon River, which rises several miles northwest of McIntire and drains a large portion of the acres in the operation.

Pinicon Farm Partnership

A family tradition

The roots for the Pinicon brand were planted when Deo and Joan Koenigs started farming in 1958 on 190 acres near Meyer (7 miles west of McIntire), Iowa. Whereas today millions of dollars in collateral would be needed to finance a fledgling operation, Deo and Joan started with a small loan and a handshake.

By the mid-1970s, Deo and Joan’s dairy and grain operation had grown considerably. Their six children were the primary source of labor. The oldest two, Mark and Jim, began to focus their energy on farming as a career. Jim attended Iowa State University, graduating in 1981 with a degree in Ag Business. When Jim returned home after graduation, the brothers merged their efforts. The early 1980s marked the worst financial crisis in agriculture since the Great Depression. This allowed a couple of young guys with determination and hard work to expand their farming operation. By 1991, the grain operation had become the primary focus of the operation and Mark sold the dairy. Pinicon was formally established thereafter.

While Pinicon’s primary focus is corn and beans, the company continues to look for growth and diversification opportunities. “We have recently purchased shares in a sow unit and will be bringing our own weaned pigs into our barns,” says Alex Koenigs, accounting specialist for Pinicon and Jim’s son. “We have finishing sites we have been renting out where we will finish our own pigs.” Pinicon believes the addition of livestock will provide a natural complement to the grain operation.

Alex also states, “Our core values of respect, optimism, improvement and discipline are deeply ingrained in our culture. We really pride ourselves in the fact that we are always looking for ways to improve our operation. We view complacency as the root of all evil.”

Farming is a business where many things that impact the bottom line, like the weather, are outside of a farmer’s control. The team at Pinicon, however, chooses to focus on the things it is able to control. “That’s an implicit value here,” says Alex. “We try not to get hung up on things that are out of our hands and direct our attention to things like operating more efficiently and bringing costs down.”

A local staple

Pinicon employs 15 to 20 full-time employees. The company also hires seasonal help, which fluctuates depending on demand and yearly conditions. The need for seasonal labor hits its peak during the spring planting season (April through May) and the fall harvest season (late September through Thanksgiving).

Pinicon’s base of operations in McIntire is 4 miles from the Minnesota border. Approximately 35 percent of its acreage is in the neighboring state. While the majority of the operation’s grain is sold through ethanol plants or elevators in Iowa, Pinicon works with merchandisers in Minnesota as well. “Our footprint consists of a four-county region of north-central and northeastern Iowa and south-central and southeastern Minnesota,” Alex explains.

Growing up surrounded by the family business, Alex began working on a regular basis when he was young. He continued to work on the farm through high school and during the summer while in college. Alex enrolled in law school and eventually practiced law in the area for two years. “When I went to college, my intent was not to come back to the farm, but halfway through law school I began to realize that was what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “I intentionally worked locally to be close to the business and when the opportunity to come back full time presented itself, I took it.”

So far in 2016, Alex says the weather has been relatively cooperative, which should allow Pinicon to record another year of strong yields. As the company integrates livestock into its operation, Pinicon Farm Partnership will remain a leader in the Midwestern agriculture industry.

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