ABERDEEN, SOUTH DAKOTA, U.S. – Farmer-owned cooperative Wheat Growers in Aberdeen, South Dakota, U.S., transitioned its new leadership on Aug. 1.

Chris Pearson succeeds Dale Locken, who is retiring as chief executive officer (CEO) of the cooperative. Locken served the cooperative for 15 years, guiding it through an extended period of growth that provided Wheat Growers’ members with more convenient and efficient grain handling facilities and expanded agronomy locations to support their farm productivity and success. During Locken’s tenure, Wheat Growers added 14 locations, expanded grain storage, upgraded grain handling facilities, added shuttle loading facilities and expanded its agronomy service centers.

Wheat Growers_ Chris Pearson incoming CEO
Chris Pearson
Pearson, a native of Corning, Iowa, U.S., spent 14 years in local co-op systems in Iowa, holding several positions ranging from entry level to chief operating officer. He joined Wheat Growers in 2013 as senior vice-president of operations and was promoted a year ago to chief operating officer. In March, the Wheat Growers Board introduced Pearson as the new Wheat Growers CEO after a rigorous and extensive evaluation conducted by the Wheat Growers board and outside sources.

John Husk, who had held the position of senior vice-president of operations, becomes the cooperative’s new chief operating officer. Husk joined Wheat Growers in 2016. Husk has extensive leadership experience from the feed, grain and agronomy supply side of agriculture cooperatives in Virginia, Illinois and Minnesota. His most recent role was with Southern States of Richmond, Virginia, U.S., as general manager in Western Kentucky. Before that, he served at Elburn Cooperative, Sycamore, Illinois, U.S., where he was president and CEO for 12 years.

These transitions are the latest of leadership changes in the past month for the cooperative. In July, Roger Krueger, senior vice-president of grain, retired from the Wheat Growers.

Krueger, a member of the Wheat Growers leadership team, joined the cooperative in 1999 as director of grain marketing. At that time, the cooperative had just opened its first shuttle loader in Wolsey, South Dakota, U.S. Since then, the cooperative has grown from 12 to 25 grain facilities and nine 110-car shuttle loader facilities as well as two more in North Dakota as part of a joint venture.