Double duty: Heins stay active in ag, on and off the farm

Justin (left) and Matt Hein of rural Monticello work together on the farm, but each has is own, separate ag-related job as well. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Working with large pieces of equipment is just part of the job for Justin (left) and Matt Hein.

Hein Richland Farms has earned recognition as a Century Farm.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Matt and Justin Hein didn’t invent the “like father, like son” cliché.

     But they are certainly living it.

     Both grew up developing a passion for farming and hard work in the outdoors. They farm together, operating the Hein Richland Farm northeast of Monticello.

     Now, both have a second job, also related to farming. And in both cases, it’s a matter of flexibility.

     The father, Matt, has worked for three years with Dale Hosch at Hosch Grain-Tec, while continuing to farm.

     “Mostly he sells grain bins and grain systems,” Matt said of Hosch. “Whatever any producer wants. You can start from an existing system, or if you want to build a new grain system, he’ll start from there.”

     Matt got started with Hosch Grain-Tec after his own operation began selling off livestock.

     “When I started redoing the grain system here, that’s who I bought the grain legs from,” Matt said. “We were putting a leg together – that was the first year we did not have livestock – and he said, ‘What are you going to do all summer?’

     “I said I didn’t know, and he said, ‘Why don’t you come and help me?’ He needed another guy, and it evolved from there.”

     Justin, a 2008 graduate of Monticello High School, left home to attend Iowa State University, where he majored in finance and economics.

     “Dad always said, ‘You can always come back and farm; go see what else is out there.’ ” Justin said.

     So he did. After graduating from ISU in 2012, Justin started work as an ag loan officer with a bank in Independence. He worked there about 2½ years, and decided that was long enough.

     “When I started at the bank, all I had done was work on the farm,” Justin said. “I never had another job ever. It was really a shock. I had always associated work with hard labor, so that was different. Eventually I didn’t want to do it anymore.

     “So I was looking to get back home to get involved in farming.”

     Justin took on a job working part-time for Castle Grove Insurance in Monticello, while also farming with Matt. Starting in February, he will be an independent crop insurance agent.

     “I’m looking forward to it,” Justin said.

     Keeping busy at all times of the year factored into the career choices for both men.

     “It’s really how the two mesh together,” Justin said. “Spring and fall are busy here (on the farm), and in the off-season, it seems like I’m busy with crop insurance, so they kind of complement each other. They’re both seasonal-type jobs.

     “And I like the flexibility, being my own boss.”

     Matt, too, decided quickly that even though there was less to do on the farm with the livestock gone, another job was a good idea.

     “I was in the livestock business for 38 years. You don’t just go and sit in the house,” Matt said. “You’ve been schooled to get up in the morning and go until the job’s done. I needed to have something to do, and that (Hosch Grain-Tec) really fit the bill.”

     In particular, Matt said he enjoys the challenge of figuring out how and where to build grain systems.

     “There’s quite a bit of design that goes on,” Matt said. “The design and engineering part of it is what really fascinates me, the amount of time that it takes, to really make it so it’s an efficient, workable system.

     “You have to think further than six months down the road. (You ask), ‘What is this going to be two years down the road or five years down the road? Is he going to stay with the same amount of acres, does he need the same amount of storage? Is he going to haul with wagons, or is he going to use semis?’

     “Everything gets taken into consideration, whether you start with a new system or build an add-on, redesigned system.”

     Matt said he enjoys having Justin work alongside him.

     “It’s a lot of relief. I have half as much to worry about,” Matt said with a laugh.

     Although Matt earned a two-year associate’s degree in farm operation in the late 1970s, he said having a college graduate work with him is helpful.

     “A college education is a must in agriculture today. When I started farming 40 years ago, the harder you worked, the more money you made, and that’s not the case anymore. You have to be smart (too). If you’ve got the background in the other (ag) fields, it tends to help.”

     Justin, 26, had another big life change recently; he married Staci Doble, of Garner, in September. Matt has been married to Vicki Hein for 32 years. Vicki works part-time for Sigma Eyehealth Centers in Monticello.

     Matt and Justin figure to be working on the Hein Richland Farm – which was recognized this past year as a Century Farm – as well as their other jobs, for the foreseeable future.

     “I really have to,” Matt said, smiling. “I don’t know anything else.”



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