A Conversation with…Loren Smeester, Nordson Corp.

We caught up with Loren after he spent a long day working with his coating clients and working on his ranch with wife Marilyn.

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Loren Smeester is a varied man; he is a powder systems specialist for Nordson and owner of Silver Bison Ranch in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also a noted speaker at various coating conferences. We caught up with Loren after he spent a long day working with his coating clients and working on his ranch with wife Marilyn.

 

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Loren and Marilyn

 

PF: How did you get into the finishing industry?

LS: I had a history of selling similar products to the automotive aftermarket industry for a company I founded and owned in the 1970s in the Twin Cities. I sold that company in the mid-1980s and realized I did not want to be responsible for managing a large group of people in the future. The Nordson position was available, and I believed that it was an excellent opportunity for me to sell a quality product and work for a great company. Some people may question my wisdom of not wanting to change my responsibilities and move up the proverbial ladder, but I have had the same manager, same position, same territory and same customers for almost 29 years, and it just seems like it has been a good fit for me and my life.

 

PF: Tell us how you came to own a bison ranch.

LS: My wife and I come from farming backgrounds. My father owned a horse ranch near Green Bay, Wisconsin, and my wife grew up on a Century dairy farm near Milwaukee. Ranching was in my blood, and I always wanted to return to the land some day. I wanted something different, and being native to western Wisconsin, the choice of bison makes sense. They have grazed in Wisconsin since the retreat of the last glaciers 10,000 years ago, so what better choice could I make? Bison are naturally adapted to the environment, and they perform the miracle of taking a product that humans cannot consume—native grass—and converting it into a wholesome and healthy and all-natural protein.

 

PF: How often do you eat bison meat?

LS: I have been eating bison meat almost every day for 25 years. I travel frequently for my work with Nordson, so naturally I cannot consume bison when I am away from home. But at home, I enjoy the great tasting steaks, roasts, burgers, sausage and brats from our grass-fed bison. Bison meat contains less fat than chicken, so I don’t feel guilty eating this healthy protein.

 

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?

LS: It’s not what you know, but who you know. Most of my endeavors have not been pursued, because I was not an expert in any of them. They were dreams, and luckily I was able to meet mentors and folks who guided me in my pursuit of these dreams.

 

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

LS: Watering and feeding horses on my father’s ranch was my first job. Beyond that, my first job out of college was the founding of an aftermarket automotive warehouse in St. Paul. It was just a dream or an idea, and I found a mentor to provide the basic knowledge I needed to succeed.

 

PF: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?

LS: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

 

PF: What was your first car and your dream car?

LS: A 1967 Buick Skylark, a beautiful white car with amazing lines. For being just a basic car, it attracted a lot of attention at the time.

 

PF: What leadership traits have helped you?

LS: Not overreacting. Being patient and thoughtful in the decision-making process.

 

PF: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

LS: I grew up in Green Bay in the 1960s, and people such as Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi were our neighbors. I actually visited with Vince many times as a kid, as he went to the same church that I did. So when I was 10, I wanted to play for the Green Bay Packers. Later in life, I played college football, but I was never good enough to get that far.

 

Get to know Loren

Family: Married to Marilyn for 39 years.

Favorite hobby: Raising bison and travel

Favorite movie: Dances With Wolves, American Sniper

Favorite book: Seabiscuit

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Fox Business Radio

 

Originally published in the March 2016 issue.