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By Kay Snyder

Since 1989, the Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) and its electric cooperative, municipal utility, and independent telecommunication company sponsors annually recognize outstanding companies and individuals with an Iowa Venture Award. The award provides an opportunity to uphold the courage, innovation, social responsibility, vision and contribution these people and organizations are making in their community, region and Iowa.

The following companies were honored at a luncheon celebration during the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives’ Annual Meeting on Dec. 5. Visit the Iowa Venture Award Hall of Fame ( to view all 272 Iowa Venture Award recipients.  

AVEKA Manufacturing Inc.
Nominated by Butler County REC

As AVEKA Group in Fredericksburg celebrated its 25th anniversary, the company became employee-owned. Headquartered in Minnesota, AVEKA Group operates three manufacturing facilities in Iowa. Beyond its largest facility in Fredericksburg, the company also has production facilities in Cresco and West Union. Recently, the Fredericksburg facility underwent a $2.5 million upgrade, including a 50,000-square-foot warehouse expansion, new equipment and remodeling. The company and its 300 employees are well-positioned to continue its leadership in particle processing, toll manufacturing, and contract research and development.

GrandStay Hotel & Suites
Nominated by North West REC

Visitors to Rock Valley can expect a grand stay thanks to local leaders and investors who built a new 46-room, $5.5 million hotel. In addition to standard rooms, the facility offers extended-stay suites and spa suites. Other amenities include a heated indoor pool, beer and wine lounge, breakfast area, fitness room, small conference room and more. Thanks to a partnership with North West REC, guests can charge their electric vehicles on the ChargePoint network.

M & C Anderson Pullets
Nominated by Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative

M & C Anderson Pullets of Sioux Rapids has recently been been honored with the Iowa Good Farm Neighbor Award, The Way We Live Award and the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award. The 1,753-acre farm is home to 10 specialized bio-secure facilities that rear nearly 5 million pullets annually. Colleen “Coke” Anderson and her late husband Marvin were teachers who bought a farm to raise their two daughters, and ultimately found their niche in the poultry industry. Coke has been a recognized leader in the industry serving on the board and committees of the Iowa Poultry Association and United Egg Producers. In 1999, she was elected as the first woman to chair the American Egg Board.

Mid-Iowa Cooperative
Nominated by Grundy County REC  

Mid-Iowa Cooperative, headquartered in Conrad, has been serving its member-owners and other farm customers for more than 75 years. This year, the co-op acquired and merged with East Central Iowa Cooperative. With more than 1,300 Class A members, the co-op serves 10 counties from 14 locations. The co-op and its 140 employees provide members with state-of-the-art agronomy, energy, feed, grain and transportation services and expertise. This year, Mid-Iowa invested more than $18 million, acquiring 40 acres in Grundy County and constructing a new 5-million bushel grain delivery and storage facility.

Peterson Transportation Inc.
Nominated by Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association

For more than 20 years, Peterson Transportation Inc. (PTI) of Manson has been growing with new customers and a team of drivers who provide safe, on-time delivery services at competitive rates. With a focus on flat-bed truck delivery of steel and wood, the company has grown to a fleet of 45 semi-trucks and 125 trailers. Today, more than 55 drivers are on the road, and PTI employs 70 people. The company recently invested approximately $3.5 million to grow the fleet and expand and renovate its headquarters and facilities.

Preferred Wholesale, Inc.
Nominated by Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative

Preferred Wholesale, Inc. (PWI) in Albia delivers top-notch products to nearly every state from its 35,000-square-foot warehouse, distribution center and office. PWI has developed its brands and is the exclusive supplier of IOWA SMOKEHOUSE jerky and meat snacks and Laura Beth’s line of jams, salsas, dressings and pickled goods. Its products are sold at Hy-Vee, Fareway, Orscheln Farm & Home stores and numerous other retail establishments. The company recently added 10,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Stensland Family Farms and Creamery
Nominated by Lyon REC

Stensland Family Farms, established in 1915, is a family-owned and operated multi-generational farm located just outside of Larchwood. The Stenslands farm more than 1,500 acres of organic cropland. The family has worked to build a high-quality dairy herd that is the basis for their newest endeavor, Stensland Creamery and Stensland Dairy. The dairy herd, which is milked robotically, has been bred to produce A2 beta-casein protein. Their products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids through the incorporation of flax meal in their ration. The company’s dairy products are featured at three company stores in Sioux Falls and can be purchased directly at the farm, which welcomes visitors and tour groups.   

Iowa Select Farms
Nominated by Midland Power Cooperative

The privately owned company, headquartered in Iowa Falls, is a homegrown Iowa success story, which began on the Hansen family farm. Today, Iowa Select Farms is the fourth-largest pork producer in the world and the largest family-owned production company in the U.S. It markets more than 4 million hogs annually. With approximately 800 farms in more than 50 counties, Iowa Select has become a leading employer and economic engine for Iowa’s rural communities.  

The company employs more than 1,850 Iowans and contracts with 1,700 different Iowa companies to provide animal science and livestock care, transportation, maintenance and repair, veterinary, environmental, information technology, construction, swine nutrition, and hundreds of other roles crucial to the business.

Recently, the company aggressively embarked upon state-of-the-art innovation and investments in single barn and double barn pig finishing facilities. In addition, 10 new sow farms were developed, all aimed at addressing an Iowa sow herd decline that has been happening since 1990. Each of these breed-to-wean farms has an economic impact of $4.7 million annually.   

Iowa Select Farm owners Deb and Jeff Hansen were also acknowledged for their generosity and the foundation they established in 2006. Dedicated to giving back to communities and families of Iowa, the foundation has been of major support in combating food insecurity, demonstrating gratitude to veterans and their families, and providing research and support to childcare cancer patients and families. 

In saluting the company, Rand Fisher, IADG president says, "In more than 30 years of presenting the Iowa Venture Awards, no company has ever demonstrated a more far-reaching impact on Iowa electric cooperatives and the communities and members they serve than Iowa Select Farms."

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