From a Kitchen Table to a Small Business
A rainy day in Washington, Iowa, can't put a damper on Rachel Rinner's mood because she is getting to do what she loves, consult farmers on new construction builds and manure management planning. What started as doing something out of necessity for her family's new hog building in 2006 was turned into the full-time venture and growing small business, Knee Deep Solutions. Rinner is backed by a team of what she deems as some of the hardest working people - those raised as farm kids.
"It's gone from one family manure management plan to about 300 right now," Rinner said.
For the Wayland, Iowa, native, moving hogs, driving the truck and trailer, and helping her dad with his farrow-to-finish operation was a common occurrence growing up. It was in this setting that Rinner says she developed some of her fondest memories.
"We would haul hogs in the morning, and he'd get in [the truck] and drink his chocolate milk," Rinner said. "Then, he'd take a nap while I would drive him home."
Rinner is a math nerd by heart and while she did not plan on going into manure management after she graduated from Iowa State University with an agricultural studies degree, the logistical side of creating a manure management plan called to her.
"I really like organization, and I really love math so putting all that together with my farm background," Rinner said, "kind of just works really well."
As she added employees, Rinner started working mostly with clients wanting to construct new hog buildings. She is responsible for knowing the regulations, figuring out how to put a building in a location where the farm can grow, and ensuring her paperwork and calculations are all in order in case opposition were to arise. Rinner first helped a farmer who was facing resistance on one of her intital manure management plans. In addition to creating his plan, Rinner supported the Jefferson County hog farmer in a public hearing with her meticulously prepared documents, calculations and research. It was then, Rinner says, she knew she had a passion for helping and being a voice for farmers.
"After that, I was like 'okay, yeah. I got the farmer's back,'" Rinner said.
Throughout the progression of her business, Rinner's workspace has been her kitchen table, her garage, a small space in town, and the current home of Knee Deep Solutions, an industrial chic building with western accents and of course, a few nods to the industry she is in -- pigs, farming, and manure. It's in this building that Rachel and her team of three other women and a high school on-the-job training student cater to hog farmers throughout Iowa.
"I would like to continue to grow and be able to do more states," Rinner said. "They have different qualifications and certifications required."
Currently, Knee Deep Solutions' offers services related to creating and maintaining manure management plans. Like in the instance of the Jefferson County hog farmer, these services must be done to the best of her and her team's ability due to the possibility of facing scrutiny, a challenge for some hog farmers in Iowa. Rinner prides herself on being able to work with farmers who are facing a harder road to getting their new construction approved.
"I'm really proud of being able to get buildings approved for farmers in areas where it's not farm-friendly," Rinner said.
It is her team, Rinner says, that has made Knee Deep Solutions a successful business that is able to assist farmers in accomplishing their goals. Each member has unique strengths within their roles including attention to detail, ability to relate to farmers, positive energy, and organization.
"The people behind me are what make me successful," Rinner said.
In addition to the work Rinner does with her clients, she has increased her reach and aided farmers and manure applicators at Bazooka Farmstar events. She has spoken at Bazooka Farmstar Dealer Days and was a panelist at the 2019 Let's Talk Shit, an event designed for custom manure applicators and farmers to discuss topics relating to the manure application industry.
Backed by her team, Rinner has set her sights on providing the best services possible at her successful small business which grew out of necessity.
"I want us to be the very best at what we do, " Rinner said. "I want us to be known as the company if you're gonna put up a hog building in Iowa. ◻️
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