Nominations Now Open2018 Operator of the Year

It’s time to recognize the next great operator, with the 13th annual Operator of the Year award. Help us find him or her by filling out a nomination form using the link below. The winner will have their name added to the most prestigious club in application and get a brand-new 2018 Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. But hurry, nominations close October 22, 2018.

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Andrew Myburgh 2017 Operator of the Year

Myburgh operates a RoGator 1300, and applies about 41,000 acres each year. Customers often request Myburgh by name because they know he will treat their land as if it were his own. Originally from South Africa, Myburgh is a permanent resident of the U.S. and lives on a small farm where his two sons help care for 60 head of sheep, calves, a donkey, ducks and chickens. He also coaches the local soccer team, and often mentors and trains other applicators who want to learn the trade.

Tony Kornder 2016 Operator of the Year

With 19 years of application experience, Kornder applies on about 35,000 acres each year. Genesis Growing Solutions credits Kornder's knowledge and work ethic with improving client retention and gaining new customers. He always keeps equipment ready to go and continuously looks to gain efficiency in road time, routing or loading. He is widely respected for his efficiency and ability to train new applicators.

Kornder is also a member of his company's safety committee and recently led a training session for all custom applicators. As a fifth-generation family farmer, Kornder personally understands the challenges his customers face. He is president of the Scott County (Minn.) Farm Bureau and has testified at the state capitol on agricultural issues.

Brian Manolovits 2015 Operator of the Year

With nine years as a custom applicator and head of the Environmental Health and Safety program at his branch, Brian continuously goes above and beyond to meet any deadline. While he typically applies about 20,000 acres each year, this year he successfully completed 30,000 acres in three months. Brian stands out off the job as well. He is a member of the Mott Volunteer Fire Brigade, serving as the training officer. He helped organize the Pee Wee football program in his community, and has organized several motorcycle ride benefits for families going through difficult times. Brian was a member of the North Dakota National Guard for more than nine years and served 15 months overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He is an avid outdoorsmen and enjoys fishing, hunting and spending.

Brent Klein 2014 Operator of the Year

Applying up to 38,000 acres each year, Brent is the applicator who growers ask for by name. With 17 years of application experience, his quality workmanship shows in the fields. Along with custom application, Brent is involved with all aspects of crop production to help growers maximize their yields. He attends a variety of seminars throughout the year that revolve around application. Always willing to lend a helping hand, Brent assists growers who have their own application equipment by providing advice and troubleshooting tips. He is also active in his local 4-H program and fair administration.

Tony Randolph 2013 Operator of the Year

Relationship-building and attention to even the smallest details set Tony apart as a professional operator. Applying 25,000 acres annually, he makes an extra effort to talk with customers about the challenges in their field to identify and take care of any trouble spots. Tony is equally passionate about serving his community as president of a local motorcycle club that has organized a number of rides to benefit various charitable causes. The club hosts bingo games at local senior facilities, delivers holiday turkeys to seniors on fixed incomes and adopts underprivileged families at Christmas.

Glen Slabaugh 2012 Operator of the Year

A true professional with 37 years experience, Glen's known as the "go to" guy when it comes to fertilizer and post in crop applications. With his positive attitude and willingness to take on any job, Glen has earned a high level of respect from customers and other applicators alike. This fall, he achieved a milestone by surpassing one million total application acres.

Glen is equally passionate about his faith, having been head deacon of his church for nearly 10 years and also serving as a Sunday school teacher. He also volunteers his time at nursing homes by making visits to lift patients' spirits.

Gary "Butch" Hammond 2011 Operator of the Year

A professional applicator for the past 27 years, Butch applies 48,000 acres per year. He conservatively estimates that over the course of his career has covered more than 1.3 million acres.

His commitment to excellence in the field makes him a favored and trusted applicator with customers. A long-respected mentor to his colleagues, Butch is also frequently sought after to train new employees and sharpen the skills of other operators through best practices, tips and insights only a veteran can offer.

In his spare time, he helps growers transport grain to the elevators, either by truck or rail car.

Mike Pluimer 2010 Operator of the Year

Mike has more than 20 years experience and covers an average of 68,000 acres a year.

A farmer himself, Mike understands the agronomic and business sides of agriculture. He is trusted by Ceres Solution's customers to always do the most professional job.

Mike's manager compares him to Peyton Manning, saying, "Mike is the quarterback of our custom application business. He is able to take the hits of 1,000-acre days and keep playing. He has the ability to call audibles in the field if conditions change, earning the respect of team members and competitors alike. Mike is a true professional on and off the field."

Brett Bohachewski 2010 Candian Operator of the Year

A custom applicator for only four years, Brett sprays nearly 60,000 acres and floats another 5,500 acres with a track record of excellence that rivals that of the veteran custom applicators.

Brett quickly earned the respect and trust of customers, colleagues and members of the community for his performance on and off the field. Brett also finds time before peak season to personally visit with customers, educating them on the latest equipment and troubleshooting issues in their fields.

He is well respected throughout the community, and balances his professional duties by volunteering with his local fire department and serving as a floor hockey coach for people with special needs.

Tod Borge 2009 Operator of the Year

Tod, a 19-year veteran, covers 50,000 acres annually.

His attention to detail, knowledge of the trade area, and role in his company's custom application training program has clearly established Tod as the "go to guy" at South Dakota Wheat Growers. His commitment to application excellence consistently reassures customers that their fields will always be applied right the first time.

While family and work occupy most of his hours every day Tod still manages to find time to play softball and volunteer for the local Fire Department.

Kyle Jones 2008 Operator of the Year

Kyle had logged 22 years of service and averages 44,000 acres annually.

Kyle is one of those custom application operators who simply enjoys his work, lives to be in the field and delights in working with customers. Kyle feels each field is a unique piece of land and prides himself on knowing each waterway, terrace and wet spot. His reliability and attention to detail immediately puts any customer worries at bay.

In addition to working at Heartland Co-op, Kyle farms and raises cattle. An avid outdoorsman, he also enjoys spending time with his family.

Matt Missling 2007 Operator of the Year

Matt had 11 years of service and applied 38,200 acres.

Farming 200 acres with his brother influences Matt's approach to his job as an applicator and he always goes the extra mile to make sure his application is done perfectly. Local growers rely on his expertise when it comes to troubleshooting or setting up any type of application equipment.

Even with the demands of a full-time job and farming his own land, Matt still finds time to be active in his church, community and his children's school.

Rod Dennis 2006 Operator of the Year

A 13-year veteran, Rod averages 28,000 acres a year and is the inaugural winner of the Operator of the Year Award.

Rod is known for his extensive electronic and mechanical equipment knowledge, and is always providing recommendations, tips and training to his fellow operators. Customers say Rod is a great listener who follows their requests explicitly and provides proactive and useful feedback on what he sees in their fields.

When not on the job, Rod is a member of Ralston Grange, is a supporter of the Wheatland Community Fair and is involved in family adoption assistance and adoptive parents support groups.

Russ Krans 2017 Operator of the Year Finalist

West Central FS – Wataga, IL

Krans operates a RoGator 1300, and covers 25,000 acres every year. According to his colleagues, Krans is the kind of operator every grower wishes for. When there is an especially difficult field with topography challenges that nobody else wants to apply, Krans raises his hand and does an impeccable job. A volunteer firefighter for 30-plus years, Krans is also a local road commissioner. He serves as Treasurer of his church and is a keyholder, meaning he must unlock and re-lock the church doors every day.

John Manning 2017 Operator of the Year Finalist

CHS Elburn – Newark, IL

Manning runs a RoGator 1074 and a TerraGator 8103, and applies 36,000 acres per year. He has been farming with his dad since he was a child and that has given him a deeper love and respect for land stewardship. He is relentlessly focused on quality work, even if that means calling a farmer to say a field is too wet to spray so the job must be delayed until another day. He's also a talented mechanic, often able to fix or patch equipment right on the spot in the field.

Andrew Myburgh 2017 Operator of the Year Finalist

Wheat Growers Co-Op – Aberdeen, SD

Myburgh operates a RoGator 1300, and applies about 41,000 acres each year. Customers often request Myburgh by name because they know he will treat their land as if it were his own. Originally from South Africa, Myburgh is a permanent resident of the U.S. and lives on a small farm where his two sons help care for 60 head of sheep, calves, a donkey, ducks and chickens. He also coaches the local soccer team, and often mentors and trains other applicators who want to learn the trade.

Terry Wilson 2017 Operator of the Year Finalist

Ferti-Tex – Comanche, TX

Wilson runs a RoGator 1100B, and applies 35,000 acres each year. His colleagues stated Wilson is their most requested operator because he is reliable and trustworthy, leaving everything in better condition than he found it. Wilson learns the quirks of each customer's fields and their preferred farming techniques, and is known for his accurate application skills and impeccable maintenance of his equipment. He is also deeply involved in the local community, spending time with senior citizens at the local retirement home, cheering on sports teams and lending a helping hand.

2017 Operator of the Year Finalists

Ken Funk

Russ Krans

2017 Operator of the Year Finalist
Tony Kornder

John Manning

2017 Operator of the Year Finalist
Ronnie Peterson

Andrew Myburgh

2017 Operator of the Year Finalist
Joel Waterman

Terry Wilson

2017 Operator of the Year Finalist

Operator of the Year Recipients

Tony Kornder

Andrew Myburgh

2017 Operator of the Year Finalist
Tony Kornder

Tony Kornder

2016 Operator of the Year Finalist

Brian Manolovits

2015 Operator of the Year

Brent Klein

2014 Operator of the Year

Tony Randolph

2013 Operator of the Year

Glen Slabaugh

2012 Operator of the Year

Gary "Butch" Hammond

2011 Operator of the Year

Mike Pluimer

2010 Operator of the Year

Brett Bohachewski

2010 Canadian Operator of the Year

Tod Borge

2009 Operator of the Year

Kyle Jones

2008 Operator of the Year

Matt Missling

2007 Operator of the Year

Rod Dennis

2006 Operator of the Year