While running his normal milk route in 1934, Eldon Stutsman’s neighbors started asking him to bring feed and supplies back from town. With a desire to serve others, Eldon was glad to oblige. The requests kept coming, and Eldon quickly recognized the business opportunity; Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc. was born.
Eldon’s oldest child, Ron Stutsman, attended Iowa State University, receiving his degree in Ag-Business in 1963. After graduation he returned home with his wife, Virginia, to farm and feed cattle. After a couple hard years, Eldon connected Ron with WR Grace, a fertilizer company looking to do business in Hills. This laid the foundation for Ron’s life-long career in the agronomy sector. In 1972 Ron officially merged his fertilizer business with his father’s wholesale feed business. Ron’s youngest brother, Jim, joined Ron at Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc. while their brother, Roger, ran the family farm; allowing Jim and Ron to focus on the business.
Since then, Stutsman’s product/service offering has expanded to include waste handling equipment, transportation, logistics, wholesale hose & valve products, precision agriculture, and a diversified line of other agricultural equipment. On top of their various divisions, Stutsman’s also acquired manure equipment manufacturer Bazooka Farmstar, and are partners in manure equipment companies in Northwest Iowa, South Dakota and Illinois.
Now in its fourth generation, Stutsman’s touts that 21% of its employees have been at Stutsman’s for over 15 years. Ron and his wife have two sons, Mark and Scott, who also work at Stutsman’s, as well as several grandchildren who have chosen to work for the company. The dedication to community and family culture have led to this tremendous loyalty. Under Ron’s leadership, the number of employees has grown by 612%, for whom Stutsman’s is a career, not just a job. Joe McCarragher, of whom Ron is a customer, noted that Ron is a “masterful sponge taking it all in, listening quietly and responding in a meaningful way.” According to Bob Downer, Ron and Stutsman’s are an example of “constant forward motion and prudent, intelligent decision making.” Ron has a knack for seeing a need in the agriculture industry and finding a way to meet or improve that need in a unique way. The success of their company is attributed to hiring the good people and putting the right people in the right place.
In addition to the progressive leadership that Ron has provided for his family business, he has served on many boards and committees and continues to be active in his community. He served Hills Bank and Hills Bancorporation from 1981-2012 as a director and a board chair as well as the President of the Iowa 4H Foundation. He has also been a part of the Johnson County Extension Council and the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce board. Within the community, Ron has been a longtime leader and active member of Sharon Center United Methodist Church. He has been an active and passionate leader in and supporter of Johnson County 4-H and has served as the president of Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and the Iowa Fertilizer and Chemical Association.
His service within his industry and the community has not gone unnoticed. Ron has been recognized with several honors including the Iowa 4H Hall of Fame, Fluid Fellow Award from the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation, Beef Backer of the Year from the Johnson County Cattleman’s Association, the Environmental Respect Award from Progress Magazine, the Distinguished Service Award from the Ag Retailers Association, Top 100 Farm Chemical Dealers for 20 consecutive years, the National Fertilizer Board Lifetime Achievement Award, the Man of the Year Award from the National Agricultural Retailers Association in 1996, the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Chairman Award, the Hills Town & Country Outstanding Service Award, and the Alpha Gamma Rho Alumni Achievement Award.