April 9, 2009

Hometown elevator career lasts for 46 years

Hometown elevator career lasts for 46 years
If you don’t count the days he is filling in until management finds his replacement, Mike Gesellchen has been working at the Farmers Elevator in Goodrich for 46 years. He is on duty until spring fishing season gets underway in earnest or his replacement is hired, whichever comes first.
The 46 years have been enjoyable, according to Gesellchen. “It is a nice place to work,” he smiled. “We haven’t had any major injuries or fires.”
He has seen the elevator take in 1.5 million bushels in its heyday, and continue with their services today with a yearly average of 500,000 bushels.
“The decline in farms has been the biggest change, along with the crop varieties. There are more specialty crops now, sunflowers, canola and soybeans, the oil crops. There are also a few peas raised, mostly the feed variety. It used to be wheat and barley crops,” Gesellchen stated.
“Another change is the lost rail service in the early 1990’s. Everything is by truck now. The elevator today is a merge of the two original Goodrich elevators, The Farmers Co-op, the three buildings to the west, and the Goodrich Farmers Elevator, the three on the east side of the street. They merged into the current Goodrich Farmers Co-op Elevator in 1984,” he added.
Gesellchen has worked for several elevator managers, becoming manager himself in 1990. His first supervisor was A.L. Schmidt, then Wilbur Snyder, Alvin Dahl and Lawrence Duchscherer. He became assistance manager in 1973 when Snyder was manager.
The feed roller mill plant is in the west buildings, and Gesellchen’s co-worker, Arden (Skip) Mindt, does most of the feed sales. Also a long time employee, Gesellchen thought that Skip had been there about 30 years. The other services include cleaning grain, selling fertilizer and chemicals, and handling of grain sales and purchases. The work is still done by hand, he revealed, with only the market information on computer service for them. The two men share most of the tasks during busy times, and a third worker, Marge Konschak, works part time as a bookkeeper. She has been with the elevator 37 years.

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