Lessons in Leadership: 3 Thoughts on the Present, Past, and Future of MaxYield

By Keith Heim, CEO

There’s nothing like a major life change to get you thinking about the big picture.

When I announced in mid-December that I plan to retire on July 1, 2021, a lot of memories came rushing back as I prepare for the next phase of life.

It’s hard to believe 43 years have passed since I graduated from college. It’s scary how fast the time goes. I feel blessed, however, to have had some really good mentors during my career.

I think of Ray Freeman. He was my boss at Farmers Commodities, and he taught me how to trade a commercial grain position. Although I had lost touch with Ray through the years, that changed when I traveled to Brazil in 2012 on an ag trip. One day the group leader mentioned Ray. I asked if he could get me Ray’s phone number. That led to a wonderful conversation with Ray, followed by the opportunity to meet Ray for dinner in Des Moines.

Times like this remind you about what really matters in life. As I look back on my ag career, here are three thoughts I’d like to leave with you:

When I was hired as a general manager for the first time in my career, I was 32 and had a young family. About a week before each monthly board meeting, I’d meet with the board president at his request to review and discuss the board meeting agenda. He always started with the same questions. “How are Deb and the kids? Are you giving them their fair share of your time?” He was a people person and working with him taught me the importance of putting family and people first.

I’ve only changed jobs three times in my career. I’ve also had the good fortune of never having to look for a job, since I was always invited to pursue new opportunities. Did you know I initially declined the chance to interview with MaxYield? I was happy where I was. I’d been in Harlan at Farm Service Cooperative for 24 years. I didn’t realize it was time for a change until I decided to take a look at MaxYield. I was intrigued that it was a larger organization, and I was impressed by the facilities and the people. I decided to accept the CEO job in 2007.

MaxYield has so many strengths. We’re in a great ag production area, with strategically placed locations and resources. We value talent recruitment and people development to help our team members grow their careers. We’re a financially solid company that’s consistently profitable. We upgrade our facilities and equipment to serve our members efficiently. We truly are solutions providers.

MaxYield has grown a lot since I came here in 2007. Acquiring locations from The Andersons in 2016 was one highlight in my career. Deals like that are complex, and it’s such a great feeling to take these projects across the finish line.
Every time I travel to a MaxYield location, there’s so much to think about on the drive back. I’ve learned so much from MaxYield team members. As you move forward, keep taking care of the clients. That’s where it all starts. Provide the solutions your clients need, and you will succeed.

I’ve enjoyed all my jobs through the years, so I had no problem getting out of bed and going to work every morning. I won’t have trouble staying busy in retirement, either. Deb and I have four children and grandchildren who live in various communities around the country. Not only will we travel to see them, but we’re committed to visiting many of
America’s national parks and the Presidential libraries, among other destinations. I like to bicycle and am looking forward to enjoying a couple of the bicycle trips offered through the Adventure Cycling Association, as well.

I’m also a reader, much like Deb, who is a retired teacher. For many years, I’ve had a goal of reading 12 books a year. I look forward to increasing this goal in retirement, along with studying a foreign language. I am also motivated to take piano lessons.

Since cooking is a competitive sport in my family, you may find me in the kitchen. I make a pretty wicked lasagna and like to cook soups. I look forward to trying some new recipes from Ina Garten and the Smitten Kitchen.

As I say goodbye to MaxYield, it has been great working with you. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to serve you, and I wish you all the best in the years to come.

Keith, we wish you and Deb all the best in your retirement. Thank you for your leadership!
-The MaxYield Team