General manager focuses on North Central Farmers Elevator

Farm Forum

General manager Mike Nickolas, who assumed his position in August, and 250 North Central Farmers Elevator employees work to serve more than 2,500 producers in the region.

North Central Farmers Elevator has expanded in many ways over the last decade and recently purchased Custom Air Inc. of Harrold. The ground operations will become a NCFE agronomy location in Harrold.

The purchase, which became official Jan. 1, means that the aerial applications service company will merge to make a new limited liability company with NCFE AIR LLC called NCFE Custom Air. Planes will operate out of Miller, Highmore and Harrold.

“There are now a total of five planes to serve our customer base with aerial needs,” Nickolas said.

Construction will also begin on a 50,000-ton fertilizer plant that will go up next to the Archer Daniels Midland grain elevator south of Tulare. North Central and ADM will share ownership of the plant 50-50. It will become a wholesale site for ADM and a retail site for North Central Farmers Elevator.

“We will be able to supply our agronomy centers, and having product on hand will help,” Nickolas said.

Having the plant in Tulare will will allow members of the cooperative to always have the product and buy fertilizer when it’s the cheapest. North Central Farmers Elevator has a fertilizer plant that is running at about capacity in Craven, Nickolas said.

“This will take the pressure off the Craven plant to so we can work on expanding business,” Nickolas said.

Building will begin this spring, and the plant should be ready by spring 2014.

The company has 22 sites in South Dakota and North Dakota.

“North Central has a good customer base, and we’re proud to be in the communities we’re in,” Nickolas said.

The cooperative’s board approved $9.4 million in spending for capital expenditures this year.

New grain storage structures will be installed at a couple of locations, as well as new truck scales, among other things.

“We want to get them in and out faster at harvest time,” he said of trucks.

The company saw record profitability the last fiscal year.

“When the farmer does well, we do well,” he said. “If we get some moisture, we could have another great year.”

Nickolas has worked for North Central Farmers Elevator since 1998. There’s been strategic growth on the board’s part, he said.

The company has taken advantage of various opportunities, including a foray into energy with North Star Energy LLC.

All decisions, at the end of the day, have to benefit the customer, Nickolas said.

“It has to be beneficial to the producers,” he said.