Manning's famous Poet

Craig "Spitter" Moeller March 31, 2009

Here are the names and positions people have sent me for some of the M&I Dehy employees.
Please e-mail me if you see errors or can provide additional information.

Randy Mundt and Jon Ahrendsen were a team of drivers
Pete Croghan drove a windrower
Craig "Spitter" Moeller
Stan Musefeldt drove a semi, delivering the dried pellets
Lyle Mundt was a supervisor
Randy Renze was a sub supervisor
Dave Croghan and Dale Rohe might have been truck drivers
Steve Phillips was a plant operator
Curtis Stribe
Larry Mundt drove truck
Walter Lage ran a chopper
Barry Kusel drove truck and ran a chopper
Doug Kusel drove truck
John Opperman
Joseph "Jr." Hugeback - located field operators
Albert Sturm worked for 10 years
Gerhardt Voge worked in the plant
Emily Opperman drove truck - probably the only female driver
Dave Stoelk
George Graves - office
Rick Lohrmann
Mike Phillips
Dean Grau
Marlin Kahl
Elmer Fischer
Donald Weiskircher
Shirley Reid - bookkeeper
Bill Graner (plant operator) and Doug Fischer (truck driver) worked on the graveyard shift for one summer
John Miller - mechanic

Also other anecdotal memories:
There was a small truck that was nicknamed "Peanut."
Initially, they green chopped everything but in later years to save drying time, a windrower was used to let the hay dry naturally for a couple of days before bringing it to the plant.

We think that one of the choppers was tipped over but not sure if it was the Champion chopper or the Field Queen chopper.

Who do you remember for employees at the old M&I Dehy?

September 2023 view of the old M&I Dehy plant

While e-mailing back and forth with my cousin, Jon, he asked me about the current status of the buildings at the old M&I Dehy plant. I had always wanted to take some current pictures of the buildings that are left which I did recently and then it gave me an idea about gathering and documenting names of employees, the jobs they had, and some anecdotal stories people may have.
Fortunately there was a story about the plant in the 1981 Manning Centennial book which is shown below, along with a current picture I took, and I had completely forgotten that I had scanned some pictures that were taken by Ron Colling for the Manning Monitor when some of the equipment was brought in by rail.


1981 M & I Dehy is located two miles north of Manning.
A Quonsent was built on the left within the past year.

On December 27, 1967, a group of twenty interested investors met at the Manning city hall to formulate plans to build an alfalfa dehydrating plant capable of producing three tons of dehydrated alfalfa per hour.

At this meeting a board of directors was elected as follows: Elmer Renze of Carroll, manager of Farmers Grain; Lester Joens, Donald Hinners, Ivan Opperman, all local farmers, and Gilbert Phillips, State Farm Insurance representative. The name of the firm, "M & I" derived from its location at Manning, Iowa.

The company was incorporated January 2, 1968, at which time plans were announced to offer 202,500 shares of common stock at $2 per share for a total capitalization of $450,000. This was handled by Russ Brooks Securities of Harlan.
Ivan Opperman served as the first president and continues in that capacity today. Other officers were Don Hinners, first vice-president, Gilbert Phillips, secretary, and Lester Joens, treasurer.
The company was formed to establish and operate "a completely automated facility for alfalfa". Alfalfa is dehydrated, pelleted and stored to preserve protein, vitamin A, and to prevent oxidation. The finished product is used by livestock feeders as a food supplement and nutrient to encourage animal growth.
On November 18, 1968, nine acres of land located two miles north of Manning was purchased from Ivan and Elizabeth Opperman, and a construction contract was let December 3, 1968, with Mr. Adrain Sivinsky of Agri Teck Supply Company of Omaha to engineer and construct the new plant. It included a 960 square foot concrete block building which houses the master control room, grinding room, boiler room, and pelleting, bagging, and equipment room. An office building was added later which includes a reception room and plant personnel offices.
The plant started operation July 1969, with Mr. Donald Dannamann of Grinnell as Manager. In 1976 George Graves then became the manager until his retirement in August of 1979. John Opperman became the assistant manager November 1978, and has assumed the duties of manager since George Graves retired.
M & I Dehy is one of the most modern alfalfa dehydrating plants in this area and the first in the country to use electronic fat metering equipment. The plant employs eleven workers the year around, and 34 during the season. The plant now contracts 1500 acres of alfalfa hay from local farmers, and the processed products are sold in a 150-mile trade area.

Equipment brought in on the Milwaukee RR April 17 1969
Note the fuel tanks, behind the rail car, used by local dealers in town who sold/delivered gas and diesel fuel.

Natural gas dryer and large unloading ramp where the trucks would dump the chopped alfalfa into.
Then the ramp was raised hydraulically so the alfalfa would fall into the rotary drying drum.

Ad in the 1981 Manning Centennial book

1971 letter to stock holder - Orland Fara

Anyone who has pictures and/or worked at the Dehy - please send me names of employees who worked there and if you remember what their jobs/positions were.
If you have pictures, I'd like to scan them...
The only way we'll preserve our area history is if we work together to get this information into my Manning Historical Database.

Carroll Daily Times Herald February 23, 1968

M&I Dehy, Inc., which was organized last month by 14 Iowans who invested a total of $45,000 in 22,500 shares of the firm's stock, is offering 202,500 shares to Iowans at $2 a share to raise capital to establish an alfalfa dehydration plant at Manning, Iowa.

The company, which has paid $150 for an option to buy five acres in the Manning Industrial Park for a total of $2,500, proposes to build a plant capable of processing about three tons of alfalfa an hour.

Near Manning
It would be designed to handle hay produced within an eight-mile radius of Manning, and according to the prospectus on the stock offering, it is believed the product could be marketed to livestock producers within a 75-mile radius.

The stock offering is being handled on a "best efforts" basis by Russ Brooks Securities Company, Harlan, Iowa. The stock issue has been registered with the Iowa insurance commissioner's office.

If the offering is completed the company would have $364,500, after the payment of 10 per cent sales commissions plus the $45,000 invested by organizers - or a total of $409,500.

Proceeds from the public offering will be held in escrow until 102,941 shares are sold, which would net about $175,000.

The company proposes to spend about $170,000 for the purchase of land, improvements, and construction of an automated plant. The plant would be equipped with a "Dehy" drum, hammer mill, pellet machine, cooler, shaker, weigher, and air lock.

About $80,000 would be used to purchase two gas storage tanks, and $75,000 would be used to provide choppers and trucks that could chop alfalfa in the field and transport the product to the plant.

The prospectus said that if the stock sale is not completed, but escrow is reached, the firm would lease the mobile equipment and start operations without the gas tanks. It said it then would depend on borrowed funds for working capital.

While noting that the operation is "speculative," the prospectus said prices of dehydrated alfalfa have not fallen in recent years below the $32 a ton estimated cost of processing (At Midwestern centers the market ranged recently from $39 to $40 a ton).

The company intends to operate during the season - from early May until the fall frost - with operations on a 24-hour basis as needed. It expects to contract for about 1,500 acres of alfalfa, or an anticipated 7,500 tons.

The company's officers, all of whom are organizers, are Ivan L. Opperman, Manning, president; Donald Hinners, Manning, vice-president; Elmer J. Renze, Carroll, vice-president; Gilbert T. Phillips, Manning, secretary; Lester Joens, Manning, treasurer; and James H. Cavanaugh, Carroll, general manager.

One Salary
All except Cavanaugh are members of the board of directors, and all except Cavanaugh serve without pay. Cavanaugh has an employment contract calling for a salary of $700 a month starting when the stock sale reaches the level for funds to be released from escrow.

Other organizers are Francis J. Zerwas, Manning; Jerome L. Rolfes, Halbur; Art Hinners, Halbur; Emil J. Opperman, Manning; Lawrence J. Polking, Manning; Fred Renze, Manning; Melvin Renze, Manning; and Leo Rasmussen, Manilla.
Des Moines Register February 11, 1968

6 Directors Named At Manning Plant
Six directors were elected at the first annual meeting of the shareholders of M&I Dehy, Inc. here.
Directors chosen for one-year terms are Donald Hinners, Gilbert Phillips, Lester Joens, Ivan Opperman, Claus Bunz, all of Manning and Elmer Renze, Carroll. These men were pre-incorporation subscribers when the Manning plant was planned in 1967, and have been serving as temporary officers.
Ivan Opperman, acting president, presented the corporation's financial statement. Cost estimate as of August 19, 1969, was $340,489.28. Approximately $90,000 more will be spent to complete the plant to meet specifications set forth in original plans. The plant has been built with a double expansion factor for future requirements.
Donald Danneman, plant manager, said the present payroll includes 10 men and that four will be employed full-time during the slack season.
Put in operation on July 22, 1969, the plant has processed two tons of hay per hour since. The plant will experiment with processing of corn stalks in the fall months.
Daily Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, September 14, 1969

Some pictures and information from Lyle Mundt...

Larry Mundt - kid brother of Lyle1969

Unloading the chopped alfalfa onto the straight truck 1969

Unloading the chopped alfalfa onto the straight truck 1969








1981 Manning Centennial parade - Randy Mundt driving, Randy Renze riding

1981 Manning Centennial parade


Information from Lyle Mundt

Truck Drivers:
Mark Jensen
Mark Spack
Lyle Mundt
Emily Opperman
Randy Mundt
Barry Kusel

Chopper operators:
Albert Sturm
Joseph "Junior" Hugeback
Lyle Mundt
John Opperman
Barry Kusel
Richard "Dickie" Schmidt
Harold Schmidt

Semi drivers:
Elmer Fischer
Stanley Musfeldt

Plant operators:
George Graves
Ray Weitl

Plant manager:
Don Danneman

Equipment repair:
Ray Weitl

Windrow operators:
Craig "Spitter" Moeller
Larry Mundt
Luther Dannemen

Field manager:
Lyle Mundt
Curt Stribe?
Junior Hugeback

Office secretary:
Neva (Kruse) Hinners

Board members:
Ivan Opperman
Don Hinners
Don Danneman

"Peanut" was the oldest and smallest truck.
One night Mark Spack forgot to open the rear dump doors before activating the hydraulic dump and he ended up tipping Peanut onto it's rear end.
He got to see the stars through his windshield.

Two Champion choppers and one Field Queen chopper kept the hay flowing. Initially all the alfalfa was chopped fresh off the stem.
This was the best way to capture all the nutrients from the leaves.
Natural gas was used in great quantities to dry the chopped alfalfa.
As the natural gas prices rose and was limited, a new approach was used.
Windrowers would cut, crimp, and place it into rows.
Then the sun would partially dry the cut alfalfa.
Then the choppers would chop it.
This way less natural gas was needed to dry the alfalfa.
However the down side was that now some of the nutrients were lost as some of the dried leaves were not picked up by the different style chopper heads.

A work stoppage strike occurred only one time. Workers wanted better wages and better machinery maintenance.
Who organized the strike...Lyle Mundt. Not really proud of that.
Don Hinners said he would have fired my butt if he was there.

Lyle Mundt

Emily Opperman was the only female working there, except for Neva Hinners who was the secretary/bookkeeper.

The Manning Fire Department was called out to the Dehy many times over the years.
A lot of heat around dry alfalfa created a very combustible situation.

The finished product that was delivered to customers was the dried alfalfa in pellet form.

Memories by Larry Mundt:
Windrowers occasionally would get plugged in especially wet conditions. The remedy was using an extra-long pipe wrench to manually reverse the crimping rollers.
The choppers, meanwhile, had high-speed rotary chopping blades. If they hit something hard, all the blades would get mangled, requiring extensive repair. I recall this happening once on one of my windrowed fields. It may--or may not--have been caused by someone leaving an extra-long pipe wrench laying on the windrow.
I believe that's how I ended up becoming a truck driver.

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