Tama-Benton Cooperative opens doors to new building

Office, scale upgrades improve customer service while ensuring employee retention

Tama-Benton Cooperative’s new Dysart office building stands in the shadow of more than two dozen grain bins on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The new office was built on the previous building’s footprint and is in its final stages of completion. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

DYSART – The towering Tama-Benton Cooperative grain bins have been a familiar fixture on the Dysart skyline for decades – viewable from every direction and operating as a beacon to farmers bringing grain to town. And while that view remains unchanged from a distance, in early January – a mere day before the second big blizzard blanketed the state – the longtime farmer-owned cooperative altered its footprint by opening the doors to a new, modern office building.

“To remodel was a board decision,” Tama-Benton’s general manager Ben Schemmel said last Tuesday (Jan. 30) while seated behind a desk inside his new, mostly finished office. “We made sure the decision was a financially-based decision. There’s no debt on the building. It’s all built out of working capital.”

The new building was erected on the former office’s existing concrete. It is located on the north side of the coop’s grain bins – just across the street and east from Dysart City Hall.

While speaking to the Telegraph, a flurry of activity was taking place in the building beyond Schemmel’s office doors as contractors continued to work on the electrical, and Tama-Benton employees dashed back and forth between offices.

It was evident on Tuesday the company’s move from its temporary location at the nearby Iowa Land Management had only recently taken place – unpacked boxes were still lying about, the lobby was still somewhat bare, and many ceiling tiles had yet to be installed.

Tama-Benton Cooperative's former Dysart office building which was demolished last year to make way for a new building which opened in mid-January. PHOTO COURTESY OF TAMA-BENTON COOP

But perhaps most telling as to how recent the move was, the building’s facade was still waiting for its new LED signage.

“I think this is like only my fourth day in the office,” Schemmel said with a slight chuckle when asked about the wires hanging from the ceiling above his head.

The new building has been a long time coming, Schemmel explained; as both Tama-Benton’s membership – currently 350 across the entire territory – and services have grown in recent years, the configuration of the old office building proved less and less ideal.

“It was a strategic move for employee retention,” Schemmel continued. “We were just running out of space for offices.”

The new building – sitting firmly on the previous building’s 1960s feed warehouse footprint – adds about 400 square feet of space and many modern upgrades including a new grain desk matching those present at the company’s Clutier and Vinton locations, both of which were updated following the 2020 derecho and during the winter months of 2022-23, respectively.

Tama-Benton Cooperative’s general manager Ben Schemmel smiles on Tuesday, Jan. 30 while standing behind the grain desk at his company’s new Dysart office which is in the final stages of completion. The building, which was erected on the previous building’s 1960s feed warehouse footprint, provides an additional 400 square feet of space and many modern updates. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Quite simply, the new Dysart space is “a more professional place of business for the customer,” Schemmel said.

Local presence

True to its local roots, Tama-Benton – founded in Dysart in 1912 – acted as the general contractor for its new building and utilized as many local subcontractors as possible including Petersen Concrete Construction of Reinbeck which poured all the additions plus the sidewalks; Staveley Construction of Dysart which worked on much of the external construction including the framing, windows, doors, and exterior finishing; Hatch Grading & Contracting of Dysart which worked on the exterior grading; Pippert Plumbing of Keystone; Rock It Out Drywall of Raymond; Etringer Electric of Dunkerton; and Hensley Concrete Coatings of Ankeny which poured the epoxy flooring.

That local presence is part of what has fueled Tama-Benton’s recent growth, Schemmel said.

“We try to hire local as much as possible. We have our own millwright now.”

The south side of Tama-Benton Cooperative’s new Dysart office building pictured on Jan. 30. As part of the recent renovations, the scale now features a new external display and remote ticket printer. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

Tama-Benton currently has 33 employees company-wide (across its three locations) including eight full-time positions in Dysart; almost all live locally, Schemmel said.

As the company’s presence in the communities it serves has grown in recent years, more and more Tama-Benton branded fertilizer tanks have popped up in area fields.

“We sell and apply all our fertilizers,” Schemmel said. “[And] we’re growing. We tripled our chemical business in three years. We’re having some real positive growth.”

As an “extension of the farmers,” Schemmel said producers within a 35-mile radius of their three locations can rent fertilizer equipment, while the coop also does custom farming applications.

“We do have our own tractor. We’re doing quite a bit, we’re doing more and more.”


Due to the growth of Tama-Benton’s fertilizer business, another change is in the works for the company – a new 200-ton, automated fertilizer blend tower is being built at the coop’s second Dysart location on the northwest side of town.

“Right now we mix with a loader and some mixers.”

Schemmel said once the new tower is completed, it will be noticeable on the Dysart skyline – further cementing the company’s status as one of the biggest property taxpayers in the community.

Currently, Tama-Benton’s two million bushel storage capacity in Dysart – spread out over 26 concrete and steel grain bins – is a little over half full.

“For the most part – especially this year – they’re fuller than they have been,” Schemmel said. “With interest rates so high.”

Tama-Benton Cooperative’s Dysart grain administrator Lyndsey Anderson smiles on Tuesday, Jan. 30 while standing behind her location’s new grain desk. The temporary scalehouse which Anderson worked from all last fall during construction on the new office building is visible in the background. PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER

And while business at the Dysart location’s new office and scale – which now boasts a new external display and remote ticket printer – has been seasonally slow, that’s certain to change as the weather warms and spring begins to bloom on the horizon.

“I think the town’s ready to see it,” Schemmel said of the new office space. “We’re hoping to have an open house once it’s completed in the next 60 days.”

In the meantime, Tama-Benton Cooperative’s new Dysart office – located at 504 Estelle Street on the north central side of town – is open for business Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, visit the company’s website: https://www.tamabentoncoop.com/