The Annual Meeting: A Fresh Perspective

Joe Derry Annual Meeting Blog Post 122922

By Joe Derry, Communications Specialist, Landus

In the brisk December morning commute, the Landus connector south of the Des Moines skyline - offered a warm and welcoming environment to take the day head on. 

On December 5, 2022, Landus held its seventh annual meeting— it also happened to be my first day on the job as a Communications Specialist at Landus. 

First days can always be a bit unpredictable; Dec. 5 was no exception. Between learning a million new names that escaped me as quickly as I heard them, and the flurry of reuniting greetings bouncing off the walls in the front lobby, I was swept away in the bustle of Landus staffers and board members. 

It’s interesting to first meet people while they’re in an extreme state of high intensity. Being the day of the annual meeting followed the next day by a board meeting, I was expecting the tensions to be running high, and introductions to be abbreviated due to a hectic atmosphere. However, throughout the day, I never felt like I was dismissed by anyone who needed to get back to work. No matter the task I interrupted, every person I met saw me as a person and colleague, excited to work together toward a common goal. 

The annual meeting kicked off in the afternoon and covered various topics and outlooks for the future of Landus. Staffers, board members, and new associates gathered in the conference room to be prepped and briefed. The contagious gratuity radiating off the board of directors and the leadership team was palpable. Everyone was happy to see each other, the vibe was more family reunion than business meeting. 

The meeting room mood was light-hearted and cheerful. Comments like: 

     “Jim! I’ve got a story for you.” 

     “How are the kids?” 

     “Did you have a nice drive down from up there?” 

Personal and earnest details that were exchanged with everyone. 

The meeting started when Mary Bendickson, Landus Chief of Staff, introduced the meeting agenda and led Chairman of the Board Nate Stewart, and Vice Chairman Matt Chambers into announcements of newly elected board candidates. 

  • Dan Ory, Position I - Earlham, Iowa 
  • Tim Kolder, Position II - Aplington, Iowa 
  • Matt Showalter, Position III - Hampton, Iowa 

They will all be serving a three-year term. Congratulations to these candidates and their challengers. 

President & CEO, Matt Carstens went over a brief executive outline that praised employees and staff that aided in last year’s success, touched on the consistency of top-line growth, highlighted the links Landus has worked to remove in the supply chain, and bolstered the outlook on strategic spending. 

Former Chief Financial Officer, Mark Miner, recently moved into the newly formed role of Chief Investment Officer. Kathleen Lyons succeeds the role of Chief Financial Officer. In his final presentation as CFO, Mark presented the following numbers in his outline of the 2022 report. 

  • Nearly $29 million in net income, complemented a staggering $150 million capital reinvestment guaranteed over the next four years and $2.4 billion in total sales. 
  • Total profit of nearly $30 million compared to $17 million in 2021 
  • Total revenue surpassed $218 million, a 27% increase over 2021 
  • Total sales of $2.4 billion for FY 2022 
  • Total $3.3 million of patronage paid in cash 
  • Chemical sales grew 44% while Fertilizer sales grew 12% 
  • Record soy crush of 25.3 million bushels achieved at our Ralston facility 
  • Landus handled more than 207 million bushels of grain 

Check out the Annual Report to dive deeper into the 2022 numbers. 

Matt’s previous introduction was echoed in his address to the board. A new direction and culture at Landus were being ushered in. Matt touched on previous motifs of “speed and space” being table stakes. The new staple Landus wants to propel is “insights and infrastructure.” By shifting its focus onto both these pillars, Landus can more easily navigate its way to maximizing growth efforts in the next few years. He praised the comradery of the people working at Landus. With every mention of the next prospective opportunity, he credited the accomplishments from the previous year to get Landus to where it is now. As a new member of the Landus team, the direction is clear, and the road map is laid out. 

While this conference was indeed a celebration of the results Landus was posting, Matt addressed a few potentially contentious concerns of the membership. You could get the feeling that Matt knew he had to deliver some realistic messages with his statements, “There’s no successful business model that makes everyone happy. I wish there were.” 

Including “negative” observations such as this in a company-sponsored blog – written by a person with less than one week on the job - doesn’t seem too intuitive from the perspective of those who didn’t see the meeting. However, I think the sharp reality that Matt, the leadership team, and the board have laid out for the Landus farmers is appreciated. As someone new to Landus, I’ve learned there isn’t going to be any fluff that comes out of the leadership team. Landus has a lean and intelligent staff that’s transparent and addresses the issues that are within the means of being tackled. 

Check out his full address to the board here on our YouTube page.

We’ve all had experience attending an annual meeting that funnels buzzwords and hot, Silicon-valley-esque topics into corporate jargon, rattled off by company officials who talk a lot, but say little. I saw something different at Landus. The Landus speakers cut out a lot of haze that tends to be present in the traditional and intentionally fuzzy annual reports. The way Landus delivered its comprehensive snapshot to someone completely new to the organization — and having them grasp everything the leadership team was saying is a big kudos to the team's undeniable transparency. 

When Ann Appleseth asked me to draft a personal narrative for my first assignment, I could tell this was a company that cared about the interests and goals of its employees. When Erika Osmundson saved me a spot to take notes during the meeting, I knew people here had a vested interest in my success. When John King was cracking jokes at the paper shredder, I saw how showing your personality at work was welcomed and encouraged. 

To join a team and immediately see the success that they’ve had in the last year feels like joining the reigning Super Bowl champs. I didn’t personally witness the hard work that went into the success of 2022 that was shared during the meeting, but I do see the leadership and teamwork that got Landus to where it is. To see the vision of where Landus will be into the 2030s and beyond was an inspiring way to jump-start 2023.