Bill is from Murrayville, Illinois, population 664 at year 2000, near Jacksonville, and with his spouse, Lois, are the parents of 5 children. He began his entrepreneur career at Neff Co., Inc., a John Deere ag equipment dealer, in Stronghurst, Illinois, first as a salesman, then its manager and in 1973, he purchased Neff Co. Bill and Lois, own and farm a significant number of acres located in Fulton, Knox, McDonough and Warren counties. Bill discussed his entrepreneurial and farming experiences, the cost of capital and related matters.
Bob is from Columbus Junction, Iowa, population 1,899 at year 2000, and with his spouse, Marillyn, are the parents of 2 children. He began his career as and continues to farm and raise cattle on a significant number of Iowa acres. At the suggestion of local Peoria businessman icon, Robert Weaver, Bob purchased his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise located in Galesburg, Illinois. He continued his KFC acquisition process and ultimately owned 18 additional KFC stores located in both Illinois and Iowa. Bob discussed the pros and cons of owning business organizations.
Both Bill and Bob discussed the current state of farming – the number of acres required to make a living, the investment in equipment and the increase in the value of farm land with its impact on the “family farm.” Specifically, in Iowa, assuming a year 2013 per acre value of $8,716 (vs. $88 in 1940), total Iowa farm value is $267,581,200,000; 78% is free of debt; 30% owned by someone over the age of 75; 56% by someone over 65; 21% non-resident; and 62% non-farmers. The Illinois statistics are comparable.