In his high school days, Richard “Dick” Pringnitz decided farm management matched up with his passions—decision-making, analytical work and a love of the land that came from growing up on a farm.
“I think growing up on a farm allowed me to gain a terrific farm background,” Pringnitz explains. “Because I deal with farmers daily, it helps me to understand some of the challenges and experiences they go through.”
To pursue his passions, Pringnitz attended Iowa State University where he received a degree in farm operation. After graduating from college in 1985, Pringnitz began his career at Hertz Farm Management and remains with the company today.
According to his colleague Tim Fevold, “We knew Dick would make a good farm manager from the day he walked in the door.” He explains, “It was never a question of whether Dick would make a good farm manager—it was how good he would be.”
Pringnitz currently manages 71 properties with 63 different clients —his total acreage managed rings in at over 14,000.
During his tenure at Hertz, Pringnitz has retained more than 98% of his clients. His success can be attributed to his communication with clients, promotion of sustainable practices and his desire to carry his legacy to the next generation.
In his career’s early days, a mentor advised Pringnitz that if you don’t inform clients about what you’re doing, they won’t know what’s happening in the field. While it may sound like a simple concept, communication can fall through the cracks when getting caught up with the intricacies involved in managing a farm. However, Pringnitz is vigilant about providing clients regular reports and updates.
“I use written reports throughout the year to communicate about growing conditions, crop development, grain marketing, repairs and improvements and any other developments that may have occurred,” Pringnitz explains.
If Pringnitz knows that a client may have trouble visiting his or her farm on a regular basis, he makes sure to include especially in-depth reports. These detailed reports may include aerial photos, maps or other images to convey a more thorough description of what is happening.
“I think communication is probably one of the most critical aspects of our job,” Pringnitz says. “Building those relationships and building trust is vital.”
He has worked hard to build trust with his clients through regular farm visits and consistent email or phone communication about the latest developments on their land.
“I ask clients for input about things they would like to see done on their farm,” Pringnitz says. “Or whether we should communicate using a different method that may be more convenient for them.”
Pringnitz has a strong belief in passing along his work ethic and knowledge to the next generation. He acknowledges that he can’t be around forever and therefore commits to training others on the Hertz way.
“We want our people to be able to carry on what we’ve done in our careers and provide service for the next generation,” Pringnitz explains. “I try to carry forward the values that our Hertz founding fathers— Carl Hertz, Tom Rittgers and Bob Walters— instilled in us.”
To continue his legacy of knowledge, Pringnitz is involved with the summer internship program and new staff learning sessions. His approachable and friendly demeanor contribute to his success as a mentor.
“We have a tendency to hire directly out of college,” Pringnitz says. “We feel like we can train those individuals to learn the way we want to manage farms and the kind of service we provide.”
Early in his career, Pringnitz found that the Iowa State Career Day was a great resource for new hires. He quickly learned that most people entering the farm management industry have a solid agriculture background but need to learn the service mentality that’s a big part of Hertz Farm Management.
Pringnitz works with the new hires and summer interns to get them off on the right foot.
“The most impactful thing Dick has taught me about being a farm manager is that you really need to be well-rounded,” explains summer intern, Travis Meisgeier. “Customers want to talk with someone they like and work as a team.”
Steward of the Land
When working with clients, Pringnitz promotes conservation practices to benefit the environment, such as split nitrogen applications.
“Our goal in splitting the [nitrogen] application is to get the timing closer to when the nitrogen is needed by the plant,” Pringnitz explains.
Other conservation practices include no-till planting of soybeans on farms with rolling topography, installing and reshaping waterways, constructing terraces and planting windbreaks around building sites.
Pringnitz has also connected clients with conservation programs.
“We have enrolled land along creeks in a conservation reserve program to try to reduce the amount of sediment into those streams,” he says.
Preparing the Next Generation of Land Owners
In many cases, land is passed down to the next generation of family members. To ensure a smooth transition, Pringnitz encourages clients to get their kids involved early on.
“Where owners have interest, I ask them to get their children involved with farm visits,” he says. “I try to educate the next generation as they become closer to inheriting the land.”
Pringnitz has seen a much higher success rate with the transition when parents get their kids involved while both generations can learn from each other and communicate.
Pringnitz has been married to his high school sweetheart, Loni, for 31 years. They have two grown daughters, Katelyn and Megan.
His wife attests to his hardworking and genuine nature.
“He values his clients and is constantly striving to do the best he can for them to make them successful,” Loni says. “He is very hardworking and you won’t find a more genuine guy.”
While his girls were growing up, he always found time to coach their sports teams.
“It was great; I could talk with him on and off the court,” Megan shares. “You could come home and talk about the game. It was really fun to look up to him.”
Leadership in the Community
Pringnitz’s work extends outside of farm management and into the community. He is currently a member and foundation chairman for the Nevada Rotary Club and a finance committee member at his church. Additionally, he has held leadership roles at Indian Creek Country Club, serving on the board of directors and as club president.
President of Hertz Farm Management Loyd Brown summed up Pringnitz’s community, family and work contributions with this comment, “Everything Dick does, he simply does well.”
Pringnitz’s success in the many facets of his life, especially at Hertz Farm Management, earned him the 2016 Professional Farm Manager of the Year title.