Potato Grower

January 2021

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36 POTATO GROWER | JANUARY 2021 In a normal year, John Rietveld amasses frequent flyer miles and platinum member hotel points like a presidential candidate collects scandalous accusations. But, as you're surely getting tired of hearing, 2020 was not a normal year. So John and his team at Rietveld Equipment, an Illinois-based company that distributes and installs vegetable grading and washing equipment all over the country, had to think outside the box. As a fourth-generation grower, packer and shipper of potatoes and onions himself, Rietveld possesses a keen understanding that, pandemic or not, there is still a need to move produce from the field to consumers' tables. Rietveld Equipment orders equipment from six European companies—Allround, Pim, Erme, Protec, Tosca and Meconaf—then assembles those lines at packing facilities across the U.S. When the first full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt, John was already preparing a way for his crews to fill the orders of their customers while assuaging concerns about everyone's health. "We had to get a little innovative," he says. "Thankfully we were a little ahead of the curve. In early March, we bought a big RV for our installation crew. It's really helped us as far as still being able to travel and work, even in places where COVID is hitting pretty hard." Usually, a Rietveld install crew will have in-person help from one or two representatives of the European supplier—for example, Road Trip! When COVID-19 rendered business as usual impossible, Rietveld Equipment took their show on the road— literally. I've been everywhere, man I've been everywhere Crossed the deserts bare, man I've breathed the mountain air, man Of travel I've had my share, man —Hank Snow, "I've Been Everywhere"

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