As you may have heard, John Zander’s last day guiding the growth of this central Minnesota feed manufacturing company will be Jan. 10, 2020. After 15 years as general manager of Munson Lakes Nutrition, John has decided to retire. Read the entire story in the Winter 2019 issue of our Advisor newsletter, which should arrive in your mailbox early in December.
Meanwhile, we asked three people to share their thoughts on our retiring general manager. Below is a sampling of their recollections of John.
Doug Sawatzke, Sales Nutritionist, Munson Lakes Nutrition Doug has known John since 1977. They went to high school together at Howard Lakes-Waverly.
John Zander is the real deal — always straight up. John made common sense decisions and tried to do it right — always. There was never any funny business with John. The man has the highest moral standards and led us by example. If we were short of help or had a busy day, John would make feed, stack bags, drive truck and assist where needed, even if it meant getting dirty. How can you not respect that? I will always respect his conservative leadership — especially when it came to financial issues. John was easy to work with and for. He was appreciative of those who worked for him, John was forever optimistic. If something was not as we would have liked it, John would just encourage us to “shrug it off and move forward — don’t look back unless you’re going that way!” I’m going to miss him.
Paul Berning, Milk Producer/Owner of Green Waves Farm and Member of the MLN Board Green Waves Farm has been a Munson customer for 45 years. Paul’s grandfather and father were customers of the feed company, and Paul has served, as a representative of Federated Cooperative, on the MLN board of directors for the past six years.
I have known John for many years through his 4-H/FFA involvement at the county fairs. He pretty much tells it the way it is, and we really appreciate that as board members. If there are problems or concerns, John wants to fix it and get it done. He had been with Munson for many years and knew it well, so he was a natural fit to be our general manager. John puts a lot of time into the company. When something needs to be done, he’s right in there with everyone, working side-by-side to make it happen. John has been very good to our dairy operation. We have a great working relationship. Green Waves Farm was one of Munson’s first robotic milking herds in the area. We’re only about 30 minutes from Howard Lake. When Munson Lakes Nutrition has visitors coming in, John will send them over to tour our operation. We appreciate that.
John is an adventurous guy. He hiked the Grand Canyon and he’s been to Rio de Janeiro. I’m sure he’ll do more of that in retirement. I have a funny story to tell you. One day, John came in to a board meeting totally out of breath. He had just come from his personal training routine – trying to get himself ready to hike the Grand Canyon. His routine was to climb up and down the tower at the feed mill! Whatever John decides to do in retirement, we wish him the best.
Doug Manthei – Hog Producer/Owner of Manthei Hog Farm, and Friend of John’s A long-time customer of Munson Lakes Nutrition, Doug says he has known John for more than 40 years – since he was in diapers.
“We’re located about 80 miles from Howard Lake and I remember the day John personally drove out to Manthei Farm to deliver a feed additive to me. It was then he told me he was retiring. I said, ‘NO — I’m just not going to let you retire!’ We always said I would be retiring before he did. What’s the deal?”
“I’ll always remember John hosting the feed company’s annual Customer Appreciation Dinner. Manthei Hog Farm supplies the pork chops for about 1,000 people who come to this event each year. John is always right in the midst of everything — cooking, making sure everything happens just right, AND stealing pork chops off the grill!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The MLN board of directors has been hard at work interviewing candidates for the general manager’s job. Expect an announcement in the next newsletter — and on our website before that.
Now you can access your Munson Lakes Nutrition account online. Just click on the FarmerData logo. Registration is easy, but if you encounter a problem, call us at 800-245-7717. We will walk you through the process. We are Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certified! The aim of the HACCP program is to address potential contamination points in the food production process.