After a 46-year career in the cooperative system, Dave Christiansen, president and CEO of MKC, will retire effective April 3, 2020. Christiansen has served 16 years as CEO of MKC – one of the largest farmer-owned cooperatives in the country.
"Since becoming CEO at MKC in 2004, I have been incredibly blessed to spend a career having the opportunity to make a difference daily. When you get to wake up every day and work with amazingly talented people with the intent of helping farmers be more successful, it is exciting to hit the ground running every day," Christiansen said.
Christiansen started his career in the cooperative system in 1973 while searching for a part-time job between high school and college. From his beginnings in the seed cleaning plant to at some point in his career spending time in almost every role the co-op offers, Christiansen learned the business from the ground up. As his responsibilities changed and increased over the years, his commitment to the cooperative system grew too. His past positions included vice president of ag inputs for Panhandle Co-op in Scottsbluff, NE, and president and CEO of Ag Partners Co-op in Hiawatha, KS.
According to MKC Board President Allan Wegner, Christiansen spent his tenure at MKC adapting the cooperative to meet the current and future needs of MKC members, assuring that the cooperative remained innovative, progressive and relevant for generations to come.
"Dave's leadership of the co-op has been transformational. His impact on MKC and TMA, our employees, our members and the cooperative system as a whole has been truly noteworthy,” Wegner said. “It takes great leadership to run an organization like MKC, and Dave has displayed vision, confidence, inspiration and dedication in his role as CEO.”
Wegner noted the Board of Directors had begun the important role to select and engage a new CEO. After completing the process, additional announcements regarding the succession of the next president and CEO of MKC will be announced.
"The MKC Board Members past and present have been terrific to work with, and I want to especially thank them for the support and direction they provided myself and the team over the years," Christiansen said. "The time and energy they have committed to creating the vision of what success looks like is and has been invaluable to our organization."
In the years since Christiansen joined MKC, the cooperative has expanded grain storage, upgraded grain handling facilities, added shuttle loading facilities, expanded its agronomy service centers, engaged in multiple mergers and acquisitions, and built a leading precision agricultural program. MKC also developed a strong, effective safety culture, strategic focus on intent and objectives of the business, and robust employee development that are models in the agriculture industry today.
“Dave has championed the cooperative system by promoting partnerships with other local and regional cooperatives to form successful organizations today including Team Marketing Alliance, LLC., Countryside Feed, LLC, and Producer Ag, LLC,” Wegner said. “His innovation and leadership have followed him through his tenure on boards and councils like the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center and United Benefit Group, and through the numerous presentations and panels he has served on across the country.”
Under Christiansen's leadership, MKC has grown in every aspect of the business since 2004. Membership has grown from nearly 3,000 members to over 10,000 members across the country. MKC now spans over 27 counties and has 375 employees serving farmers from 34 locations. A commitment to renew the cooperative's infrastructure has led net fixed assets to grow from $9 million in 2004 to over $150 million and total assets to $538 million today.
Sought for his counsel and creative insight, Christiansen will continue to serve on boards and councils and stay active in the industry. In retirement, he plans to spend time working with organizations to help build plans, provide executive coaching, facilitate retreats and provide farm management.
Dave and his wife, Cindy, have three children and seven grandchildren. Christiansen noted spending more time with his grandkids will rank high up on his priorities.
A Retirement Celebration will be held in his honor on Wednesday, April 1 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the J.O. Sundstrom Conference Center in Lindsborg, Kansas.