Steve Notch Retires from the Cooperative’s Board
March 31, 2022
STEVE NOTCH JOINED STEARNS ELECTRIC ASSOCIATION’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS IN 2007. FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS, HE HAS REPRESENTED THE MEMBERS FROM DISTRICT 6. HE HAS SERVED THROUGH A RECESSION, A BOOMING ECONOMY, SEVERAL ELECTRIC UTILITY INDUSTRY ADVANCES AND A GLOBAL PANDEMIC IN HIS TENURE. AS STEVE PREPARES FOR HIS LAST BOARD MEETING THIS MONTH, WE WANTED TO BID HIM FAREWELL WITH A RECAP OF HIS TIME SERVING OUR MEMBERS AND OUR COOPERATIVE.
Steve grew up in Freeport and has lived in Central Minnesota for most of his life.
After attending Melrose High School, Steve went on to the University of Minnesota, Waseca to study ag business management. Following his time there, he attended St. Cloud State University, where he graduated with a degree in finance. Later in life, Steve earned his Master’s in Business Administration from DeVry University.
In 1995, he and his wife Jan were raising three young children at their home in the city of Freeport. They decided to house-swap with Steve’s parents, which allowed their kids to grow up on the family farm where Steve grew up, near Kings Lake right outside of Freeport. Steve and Jan still reside there today, though they rent out the farmland to another family.
Steve has a long work history in finance and banking. He spent 24 years at Freeport Bank, and another six years at North American State Bank in Belgrade.
When North American State Bank was sold in 2018, Steve started working at Total Agri-Business Services, Inc. in Albany. In 2020, he and three business partners purchased Total Agri-Business Services from the previous owner and founder. This is where he continues to work today.
“I’m a people person and I always enjoy working with the farmers,” Steve explained.
Since 2014, Steve has also represented the western portion of Stearns County as the District 5 County Commissioner.
In 2001, Steve got involved in the Cooperative by joining the Operation Round Up® Trust Board of Directors. He served for six years on the Trust Board, reviewing grant applications and approving funding for local non-profit organizations and worthy causes.
In late 2006, Steve was approached by Bud Heidgerken, a longtime Cooperative member and local busines owner, about running for the Cooperative’s Board of Directors.
“Bud’s brother-in-law, Arnie Blommel, was terming out of the board. I was serving on the ORU Trust Board at the time, and on the township board,” Steve recalled. “Bud talked to me about running for the Co-op Board and it sounded interesting. I checked with my employer, who gave me the approval to miss work for Co-op Board functions, and I submitted my application.”
Steve was elected to the Stearns Electric Board in District 6 at the Annual Meeting in March 2007.
“Throughout my time on the Co-op’s Board, I have really enjoyed the challenge. Especially right away, there was a lot to learn about a whole new industry,” he said.
“When I was elected in 2007, the Cooperative was cruising along. But then the recession hit in 2008 and 2009,” he recalled. “Co-op growth went almost completely flat during that time. I remember Board meeting updates went from 300 new services in one month when I first started, down to under 100 during the recession.”
“But we got through it and there have been several highs in my time on the board, too,” he explained.
Some of those highs include the Minnesota Pipe Line Co. pumping station and Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG) coming into our service territory.
“It’s been fun to see the Cooperative grow throughout the years. When I started, there were about 24,000 members. Now there are nearly 28,000, and the volume of electricity people are using has continued to grow,” Steve said. “Additionally, we have watched several businesses expand and start through the Cooperative’s SEA Development entity in the I-94 business park in St. Cloud, where we just sold the last parcel of land to AWG.”
“The industry has changed so much since I first started on the Board. Renewable energy continues to gain tons of traction and new regulations have been implemented for utility providers to work towards becoming carbon free,” he stated. “Additionally, technology advances have allowed members to be more in control of their overall energy use and utility bills.”
According to Steve, the toughest tasks the Cooperative’s Board is responsible for are strategic planning and hiring new CEOs.
“Setting the long-term plan for the entire Cooperative through strategic planning is tough. A lot can change in the electric utility industry in three years,” he said.
“Also, hiring the right leader for the organization is a huge responsibility of the board. In my involvement, I have been a part of three CEO searches,” he recalled. “As Board members, we know there is a talented group of employees who are there to take care of the day-to-day business of the Cooperative. It’s important that they have a leader who will not only support them but also continue to move the organization forward.”
After serving five three-year terms on the Cooperative’s Board, Steve made the decision not to run for the Board again in 2022. So, what’s next?
“Well, not much is going to change,” he said. “I’ll still continue working at Total Agri-Business Services and I also plan to seek another term as the District
5 County Commissioner for Stearns County this fall.”
Steve also plans to continue spending time doing the things he loves – camping, golfing, gardening and spending time with his wife, children and grandchild.
“Serving on the Stearns Electric Association Board has been rewarding and challenging. I have enjoyed getting to learn about the industry, making decisions on behalf of our members and interacting with the staff and members of the Cooperative over the past 15 years.”
Thank you, Steve, for your many years of service on our Board of Directors!
Throughout 2023, Stearns Electric will be featuring residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural EnergyWise programs, rebates and other cost and energy saving…