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Celebrating 50 Years of Cooperative Employment

Jun 01, 2020

Stephen Dirkschneider celebrated his 50th anniversary with CVA on June 1, 2020, at the Snyder, Nebraska location. Today, Stephen’s job looks very different than when he began in 1970. Back then, his days consisted of doing tire and oil changes at the station. He worked there for a short time before switching positions and driving a feed truck delivering feed to the Fremont area for hogs and cattle. He drove feed truck until 1986, where he switched to driving fuel and propane until 2006. Since then, he has been in working in Operations at the Snyder location.

Many things have changed over the years as Stephen has worked at the cooperative, but most noticeably the role technology has played in making the job more efficient and safe. “Technology has definitely changed things for the better. It was a very physical job in the early years of my time at the co-op. You had to go to the trucks in the wagon and scoop grain off,” said Dirkschneider. Over the years equipment, facilities, and communication tools for both employees and customers have dramatically upgraded. “I think the younger generation will have it better. Things are much safer; everything has improved, I feel more comfortable doing my job, there’s not as much risk involved today as there was 40-50 years ago.” 

Visually, Stephen reflects on how things have changed. “Even looking at fuel trucks today that deliver around the country, all those axels underneath those trucks, if you saw one of those when I began working at the station, you’d just be in awe and think it was amazing.” A lot of the changes Stephen acknowledges are things that are often taken for granted in the day-to-day at the cooperative and on the farm.

Another change that shifted at the location through the years was the sign hanging on the door. When Stephen started in 1970, the cooperative consisted of two locations Snyder - North Bend Cooperative. Then Snyder merged with Elkhorn Valley in 1994 which was followed by Agland, which ultimately became Central Valley Ag in 2003.

When asked what Stephen’s favorite part of working at the cooperative has been, he didn’t hesitate to answer. “The customers are like family members to me. I’ve been working here for over 50 years.” That’s longer than Stephen has been married to his wife, Daralyn, who he’s been married to for 46 years. There are several customers he has been working with since his first day; Wilbert Ortmeier and Cletus Rolf came to mind first. “I used to bring Will his stuff from the station. I delivered him fuel all the time, now fertilizer – well, now his son has taken over, but it’s neat to see the shift to the next generation. I enjoy the farmers. That will be a big miss, when I leave.”

Excellent customer service is an essential part of Stephen’s role at CVA, and what he advises any future cooperative employees to focus on. “I always have tried to make sure customers are happy with my service. I think that means a lot to the farmers,” he commented.

Stephen has been able to take advantage of the cooperative retirement plan due to his long-time commitment to CVA. “The longer you’re here, the better off you are for retirement-wise,” he commented. So, what will he do when he does decide to officially retire? “I plan on spending a lot more time with my wife, Daralyn, my kids, and grandkids.” Stephen has two daughters, Tonia and Trisha, along with five grandchildren. “And I would like to go and see the country, do some driving around to the different states.”

Stephen is an excellent example of living the CVA Mission every day - Embracing the Cooperative Spirit to deliver value to our members. “This is truly an accomplishment by Stephen. On behalf of CVA and our members, we are so grateful for his dedication and hard work throughout the years,” said Tim Esser, CVA Senior Vice President of Human Resources. 

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