07 September 2021, UK: Jake Zwiefelhofer was a city kid growing up. His uncle owned a dairy farm and, when he was in high school, Zwiefelhofer started milking cows. He didn’t really know anything about agriculture but was inspired by his best friend and his friend’s father who were both farmers.
Even though Zwiefelhofer felt like an outsider, he pursued his dream of farming and went to the University of Wisconsin – River Falls to get his Crop and Soils Degree. For four years, he worked at a co-op as a sales agronomist.
In 2017, he and his two business partners started farming together. They knew they wanted to expand out from agronomy but none of them came from a large family farm.
So they all pooled their money and four years later, they farm over 500 acres of corn, soybeans, saplings, and small grains.
Zwiefelhofer and his partners were burning the midnight oil working day jobs at the co-op and planting at night. Realizing it wasn’t a sustainable pace, he left his job at the co-op and started Red Cedar Agronomy.
Zwiefelhofer started selling seed but quickly realized he wanted to offer additional products and services, which led to his decision to become a Community Builder and partner with FBN as a Community Builder.
“FBN really allowed us to be in the chemical game without major infrastructure, logistics and labor setup,” says Zwiefelhofer. “It really gave us an opportunity to get into that game pretty seamlessly and without much effort. The technology and support work great and we can just look up the price quickly and say to our customers, ‘Hey, you want it? Boom, you’ll have it in a couple of days.’”
“FBN puts everybody else on their toes, and it gives growers another choice, another tool in their negotiations and their crop planning.”
Eventually, Zwiefelhofer’s business partners were able to join him full-time at Red Cedar Agronomy and he credits the Community Builder Program in helping turn his business into a full-service agronomy and inputs ag business.
Zwiefelhofer sees the Community Builder Program as a great marketing tool to help grow his book of business. It’s helped him find new customers that would never have learned about his business and the different services they offer.
“At the end of the day, all I want is my farmers to be more successful because of us. And if I do that, I know their business is going to come back to us and for all of our other services. With our knowledge, along with the supply from FBN, we’re able to empower our growers to not only save money but maintain yield too.”
Having the support of FBN at his back has been invaluable. Zwiefelhofer credits the FBN app as an information hub for his industry peers. With the FBN app at his side, he’s able to recommend the best products to get the job done for his farmers.
“The CB’s, myself included, and most agronomists for that matter don’t learn this stuff in college. We learn in the field. The FBN app has allowed me to learn about other lines and products.”
One of the things he’s noticed with his customers is that even though FBN offers savings on inputs, many farmers still want to support local businesses.
And with the Community Builder Program, it has helped a lot of his farmers feel better about buying online because it’s still benefiting a local business.
For Zwiefelhofer, the real value lies in supporting both his growers and his community.
“FBN’s a disrupter for allowing more people to be in the game locally. What’s pretty cool about the CB model is that we can get a lot of guys out here working with growers and solving their problems really quickly.”