CEO says Lely helping create sustainable, profitable, enjoyable future in farming
By Jean Caspers-Simmet
Date Modified: 04/25/2012 9:35 PM
PELLA, Iowa —"Iowa is often known as the food capital of the world," said Lely Group CEO Alexander van der Lely at last week's grand opening celebration for Lely's North American dairy production plant in Pella.
Van der Lely said he was pleased so many users of his company's robotic milking system were at the celebration.
Van der Lely joined his family's company after graduating from college because he was "captured by admiration and faith" for the business his father and uncle built.
The company's vision is "to help create a sustainable, profitable and enjoyable future in farming," van der Lely said. "This expansion is Lely's commitment to helping dairy producers realize improvements in their financial and social well being."
Eileen and Brian Hoefler have milked 185 cows with three Lely Astronaut robots since August on their New Vienna farm.
"Seeing all these people from all over who are either interested in robots or have robots is just neat," Eileen said.
"It's great to see all the new technology," Brian said. "All the parts will be close, and it shows that Lely believes Iowa has a future in the dairy business," Brian said.
The robotic milking system has changed things on their farm. They Hoeflers can make their children's ball games or if they have to take a child to school they can.
It has reduced the need for outside labor. Today, they can get the work done with their four children and Brian's father, Clem.
Peter Knigge of Omro, Wis., installed the first Lely robotic milking system in United States in August 2000.
Knigge first saw a robotic system on a farm in the Netherlands when he was there with the University of Wisconsin to study manure regulations.
"We were going to expand, and I decided robots could work in our operation," Knigge said.
"The new Lely plant is a mixture of Dutch technology and American materials that are used here," said Martin Olde Monnikohof, agricultural counselor with the Netherlands Embassy in Washington, D.C., who attended the celebration. "It's a win-win for both countries."