- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Drew Taylor
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Riverview LLP has grown into a multifaceted agribusiness by employing some of the most passionate people in the industry. The company’s mission is to provide a culture of opportunity for passionate people and innovative ideas. With this goal in mind, Riverview has branched into all corners of agriculture — agronomy, beef, dairy and facility construction.
Based in Morris, Minnesota, the company now has locations in its home state, as well as Arizona, Nebraska, New Mexico and South Dakota. Riverview’s large-scale, modern dairy farms, calf ranches, beef feed lots and cow-calf operations use leading technology to produce a high-quality product and promote animal health and comfort while also enhancing land productivity.
The organization began as a small family-owned crop and beef farm in 1939. In the mid-1970s, the family business was incorporated as Riverview and the company continued farming and raising beef cattle until 1995 when the business structure changed, allowing several community members to invest in the new 800-head dairy, complete with a double 24-parallel parlor. Today, 70 percent of the company is currently owned by employees and there are more than 300 partners.
Riverview has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for turnkey dairy construction. “Vertical integration is a major part of our overall company strategy,” says Lyle Grimm, who joined the Riverview team in 2007. “When it comes to continuous improvements or making changes quickly, we’re the owner, we’re the dairymen running the place and we’re the construction crew — all in the same company. We have all of our people working together to accomplish things, whereas in other situations there can be disconnect between the separate owner, contractor and multiple subcontractor entities.”
Raised on a dairy farm in northeast Kansas, Lyle started at Riverview in as a college intern. “Riverview let me learn on the job and I really enjoyed it. I started to learn a lot and worked my way up,” he says. Lyle currently works with the existing operations and construction teams and is also a project manager for Riverview Construction, the construction arm of Riverview.
“Riverview Construction started small, with a couple projects and we’ve slowly, but steadily grown,” he says. “The majority of our work is internal for Riverview’s operations and facilities, however, last year we did about 90 external projects. These projects allow us to stay busy and flexible when Riverview doesn’t need a dairy, feedlot or facility upgrade.”
The Riverview Construction crew built its first dairy in 1995. “We managed all of the subcontractors from excavation to concrete to erection and final completion,” says Lyle. “We also managed several other construction projects between 1995 and 2007.”
In 2007, Riverview Construction assembled the first in-house concrete crew. “Since then, we have grown the construction segment of the business by self-performing more and more trades: concrete, drainage, gravel placement, gating, fencing and dairy equipment installation,” says Lyle.
Riverview Construction now has 40 full-time employees and 100 seasonal employees. “We’re running 10 crews in concrete, carpentry, welding and equipment install, and project management,” says Lyle. “On our own projects, we self-perform the pieces that make sense for us to do.”
A top-notch construction crew
There are several facets that make the Riverview Construction team one well-oiled machine, including design, concrete, carpentry, plumbing, and welding and equipment installation. On the design side, Jim Nieland, who spent eight years in the manufacturing and drafting sector before joining Riverview in 2007, is involved in project permitting, construction layout, design coordination with engineering firms and subcontractor quoting.
“The design team is involved in project layout, quoting and bidding,” says Jim. “We work with structural/civil engineering firms to coordinate the information they need from us and gathering the information we need to make sure all of our bases are covered.”
Riverview Construction’s design team utilizes AutoCAD and other modeling programs to help paint the big picture. “Engineering firms will take these plans and go back and forth with us to create structural/civil plans,” says Jim. “Using these design programs helps to facilitate clear communication.”
Despite distinct crews with certain specialties, Lyle emphasizes that there’s very much a can-do attitude among construction team members and Riverview as a whole. “We’re not big on specific titles; everyone can do anything and pitch in,” he says. “One thing we’re really known for is swift execution. This comes from our strong work ethic. We can get the job done in a timely, professional manner. It all starts with hiring the right people to be a part of our team.”
Spotlight on Meadow Star Dairy
Recently in Penncock, Minnesota, the Riverview Construction team completed an 8,500-head dairy farm. The dairy is the largest in Kandiyohi County, and is owned by Riverview.
Crews transformed 160 acres of farm field into a livestock operation with buildings that cover 20 acres, a rotary milking parlor that allows 106 cows to be milked at once, three houses for on-site employees, feed storage to house silage and hay, as well as lagoons that can hold 90 million gallons of liquid manure and feed runoff. “In just nine months, we took this site from a cornfield to an up-and-running, full-scale operation,” says Lyle.
Fluid milk production from these cows generates eight semi tankers of milk daily, which is then transported to the First District Association processing facility in Litchfield.
Construction began March 9, 2015 and a dry spring allowed crews to fast-track the project. “Our crews were busy stocking the farm with enough fodder to feed the large herd for the year,” says Lyle. This supply includes 90,000 tons of corn silage (covered with plastic tarp weighed down with sidewall tires), tons of hay and straw, dry distillers grain, soy meal, gluten, ground corn and a variety of minerals.
The site includes a 1,450-by-608-foot free-stall barn. “The barn includes more than 1,000 LED light fixtures and multiple fans and curtains to maintain airflow and temperature,” details Lyle.
Ushering so many cows through the milking parlor requires a mechanical system that works seamlessly. “Everything is running the way it’s supposed to, down to every gate that swings the right direction and every door that opens the right way,” says Lyle.
Avoiding system hiccups is key, says Lyle, especially considering the volume and number of cows milked on a daily basis. “Our biggest focus is taking care of the cows and keeping people safe,” he says. It’s pretty easy logic, says Lyle: “Cows that are content and comfortable produce more milk.”
“Everything is running the way it’s supposed to, down to every gate that swings the right direction and every door that opens the right way.”
Adding value to communities and being a good neighbor is central to Riverview’s mission and when Riverview Construction starts a project, the goal is to start something good that will grow local business and jobs. “We’re always reaching out to the community and trying to build relationships with people in the area and local businesses; that’s just how we do things.” Riverview will host an annual open house at Meadow Star Dairy early this summer, June 30, 2016, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “All are invited to come out for a tour and free burgers and milkshakes,” adds Lyle.
With large projects such as Meadow Star Dairy now completed, there are no signs of things slowing for Riverview Construction. “We have another dairy project (Dollymount Dairy near Wheaton, Minnesota) starting this summer that we will finish in fall 2017,” adds Lyle. “There’s a lot of work on the books.”
With a solid backlog of dairy, beef and related agricultural projects — and the added flexibility to tackle jobs in the commercial scope — Riverview Construction is building on a reputation for skilled, swift construction and one of the best multitalented teams in the business.
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