May 29–LEIGH — After high school, Matt Wietfeld decided to buy a semitrailer.
The Leigh native got a job hauling feed for Wilke Farms and continued hauling 65 to 70 loads per week for Schwartz Farms, which bought out Wilke.
Around 14 years ago, Wietfeld and his brother Dan turned the operation into a business, Wietfeld Trucking. The years of hauling hog feed helped finance the startup, including buying more trucks and trailers and expanding into side-dump trailers and other equipment.
Over the last two to three years, the business evolved to include hauling milk and equipment, crop harvesting, spreading manure and construction work.
Wietfeld’s secret to success is pretty straightforward — much of the business’ growth came through establishing personal relationships and delivering what the customer wants.
“Try to be the best,” said Kenton Kabes, a site manager who’s been with Wietfeld Trucking for five years. “Just do a great job and they’ll want you back.”
Around two years ago, the business purchased some tankers and started hauling milk for Malena Dairy just south of town.
“We went to high school with those guys,” said Wietfeld, referring to founder Mike Malena’s children, Heather, Brent and Sean, who now run the farm. “So they got a dairy and we started hauling their milk.”
Those small-town relationships helped the Wietfeld brothers grow the business as they invested in more vehicles and drivers.
“Most people that we work for we trust and have a relationship with,” Wietfeld said. “We’ve know them our whole life.”
Those connections also helped them find reliable employees.
“A lot of the guys that we found, if (the Wietfelds) didn’t know them we found them through a reliable employee,” said Kabes.
Wietfeld doesn’t see a lot of employee turnover.
“Treat people with respect, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “We need everyone here to do their job to get this done. Everyone needs to do a good job and try to respect everyone. I think that goes a long ways.”
Not that it’s an easy job.
For drivers hauling milk, they’re transporting two, sometimes three, tankers a day to Le Mars in northwest Iowa.
Manure hauling and spreading has grown to about 50 percent of Wietfeld Trucking’s business. They’re now spreading manure “from Yankton to Hebron,” said Wietfeld.
“We started with one side-dump, now we’ve got five side-dumps and three (50-ton) spreaders,” he said.
Most farmers want manure spread within a certain window of time, so Wietfeld’s guys are sometimes working at 10 or 11 p.m. to get the job done.
He’s found more farmers are switching to manure instead of commercial fertilizer since low commodity prices are squeezing their budgets. They’ve also found it’s more effective.
“Ninety-eight percent of the guys that are doing it are doing it again the next year because it’s working for them,” said Wietfeld. “So we’re always having about the same repeat customers.”
The most recent expansion for Wietfeld Trucking was in construction as Schwartz Farms adds more hog barns in the area.
The business currently has 15 full-time employees and one part-time worker, and Wietfeld is looking to hire more.
An added benefit to expanding the business is Wietfeld enjoys seeing how different farmers run their operations.
“Some of the smartest people you ever meet are in livestock,” he said. “Everybody does it a little differently and they all have their reason, and that’s what works for them.”
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