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Peterson Reflects on 43-year Cooperative Career

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3/27/2018 8:40:20 PM

When Steve Peterson provides advice and direction on how to get the job done at the co-op, he knows from experience.

The door at the cooperative first opened for Peterson while attending Kansas State University working part-time at a local co-op. After the birth of his son, he left Kansas State and started full-time in 1975. “I wore many hats at the beginning of my career," Peterson said. “From working in the feed mill to feed delivery and driving Big Wheels dry fertilizer spreaders to the office as counter sales and grain merchandiser."

Now in mid-April, Peterson will retire from a 43-year career in the cooperative system. 

"When I started my career in the cooperative system I think the biggest reason I stayed was that I kept getting challenged to advance and in return rewarded for my hard work," Peterson said.  "I enjoyed what I did and always enjoyed working with all the people in the industry.  It had never crossed my mind to do anything different once I was engaged in the system, learning and challenged to be able to contribute more to the company success and my own."

In 1980, he moved to a new elevator east of Manhattan, the current MKC Manhattan location, to manage the new facility, merchandise the company’s grain, start the cooperative in liquid fertilizer and establish a custom application business. Peterson became the general manager for Farmers Cooperatives Association in 1998 and stayed in that position until coming to MKC in 2004.

Peterson was the first director of operations under current President and CEO Dave Christiansen. His responsibilities were to manage one location and oversee a few facilities. Peterson said, “The few facilities soon grew to five and at one time as many as nineteen as MKC grew.”

Over the past 14 years, Peterson has witnessed many changes to MKC and the cooperative system as a whole. Peterson mentions watching company leadership adapt and change the vision of MKC to maintain growth, establish excellence and make employee safety a priority as a highlight. “As consolidation continues in agriculture, driving change and technology advancement ramped up. I can’t wait to see what’s next, and I’ll be watching,” Peterson said.

Peterson sees MKC as an ever-growing company, with the potential to achieve its goals. “Everyone at MKC has always worked together to fulfill the mission and vision of the owners, to achieve financial success and operational excellence, to make MKC a safe place to work and to help ensure the sustainability of the cooperative system, Peterson said.”

Following retirement Peterson and his wife, Tina, plan to move back to the Wamego area. They are currently purchasing a home and ten acres in the country and intend to use it as a place for entertaining grandkids and making memories.

“I know I will miss the day to day interaction with coworkers and owners which I have been blessed to be able to do for 43 years working in the cooperative system,” Peterson said. “I feel truly blessed that I had the opportunity to work for a great company like MKC the past fourteen years.”

Join us on Friday, April 27 as we honor Steve at his Retirement Party. The celebration will be hosted at the Sundstrom Conference Center in Lindsborg from 3-7 p.m. No reservation is needed. Come and go event.