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Working from a plan

12/14/2010 @ 11:15am

Derek Fuemmeler used one of his courses at Missouri State University to transform his future. One of his projects in his ag marketing class included making a business plan.

With another classmate, Fuemmeler created a plan for a made-up co-op in which there was a central store with several branch stores that sold fertilizer. The made-up company included Yield Max, an on-farm consulting service.

“The professor told me it was the best business plan she had seen in the 12 years she’d been teaching the class,” Fuemmeler says.

The project got turned in, Fuemmeler graduated, and he was on his way to find a job. He settled in Kentucky doing some intensive agronomy work. The company helped him instill some new ideas, including some from his original project.

Because of his family farm, Fuemmeler returned to Missouri. In the back of his mind, he remembered that ag marketing project he created a few years back and decided to run with it.

“That assignment I did in school, along with my farming background, set me up to do everything I have done to this point,” Fuemmeler says. “Making a business plan like that came more easily to me than I expected.

“The hardest thing I have ever done was to just quit my job,” he says. “I already had a plan in progress and had seen parts of it work. It was one of those things where I had to close my eyes, jump off a cliff, and hope water was there. If I hit water, it would be a softer landing.”

He has been in business on his own for four years. “It has been excellent every day. Each year has been better than the one before,” he says.

From what he has learned from his first consulting job, he created Yield-Max, LLC, his own consulting firm. Fuemmeler scouts roughly 20,000 acres for about 10 customers a year.

He has found that his success comes from not pushing one particular product to producers, but by helping them find what works best for them in a trusting relationship. Fuemmeler looks at several different yield plots for area farms and uses the best items available for each individual situation.

Fuemmeler is implementing his business into the family farm, as well. He works with his father and uncle growing corn, soybeans, and winter wheat. Fuemmeler helps to pick out hybrids and fertilizer, decide on a crop rotation, and also does grid sampling on the home farm. He also assists with a custom planting, harvest, and bale operation, as well as a small hog and cattle operation.

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