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Interview with Eugene Mancl

Eugene Mancl

In 1973, Ron and Bonnie Mancl moved to Wisconsin Rapids to start Ron’s Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc. At that time, Ron was alone running the service, bidding projects and building a customer base. Bonnie took care of the office and kept the books. Today, Ron’s Refrigeration employs over 30 people and provides engineering, service and installation to customers throughout the state of Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan’s UP.

For the past 20 years, Ron’s son, Eugene Mancl, has served as the company’s Vice President. Eugene is a partner with his brother, Tim and his sister, Tammy Salewski.

Eugene Mancl
Eugene Mancl, Vice President of Ron’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. in Wisconsin Rapids, WI

For the past two years, Eugene has served as President of the WPVGA Associate Division. Under Eugene’s leadership, the Associate Division has increased its support of the potato and vegetable industry by tripling the amount of money raised and later donated.

“According to our mission, the WPVGA Associate Division works in partnership with the WPVGA as product and service providers,” Mancl said. “We are a nonprofit organization and we have been fortunate in our fundraising efforts over the course of the last two years, and we’re happy to donate that money back to worthy causes.”

In 2014, the Associate Division donated over $20,000 to potato-related causes. Among the recipients were the following: Hancock Research Station, Rhinelander Ag Research Station, Langlade County Research Station, Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program, Wisconsin Seed Potato Improvement Association, and the UW-Lelah Starks State Farm.

In addition to those organizations, the Associate Division also supported two special projects: the Spudmobile and the Feed My Starving Children Mobile Packing Event. They also pooled funds with the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary to support scholarships for eight students with ties to the potato and vegetable industry.

“We feel the increased involvement and investment by the Associate Division is doing a tremendous amount of good for our industry as a whole,” Mancl said. “We are extremely pleased and proud to be able to provide support to all these worthy causes.”

In the following interview, Eugene shares his views on a number of issues related to the Associate Division and the upcoming Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Industry Show.

How long have you been exhibiting at the WPVGA Industry Show, and what do you feel you gain by attending?

We have been a part of the Industry Show for well over 20 years. The Industry Show is an excellent opportunity for growers to get away from the farm and office for a couple of days and for us to spend some time with customers. We get a chance to visit with industry members and to see the new products and technology being introduced during the show. The banquet always puts a nice finishing touch to another season before everyone starts to turn their focus toward planting in the spring.

What changes has the Associate Division made to the Annual Industry Show and Banquet in recent years?

Over the last few years we’ve changed the entertainment to allow for a more sociable atmosphere. In response to requests from our members we’ve changed the length of breaks and moved the refreshment tables to more common areas. This year the board spent a great amount of time to find a way to add more exhibitor booths in an attempt to reduce or eliminate our industry show waiting list. Working with the Holiday Inn we were able to add an additional 20 booths for this year’s show. We increased our budgets for this year’s show to allow us to provide a very hearty meal for lunch each day along with some delicious selections for the banquet meal.

Ron's Refrigeration Staff
Ron’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. received the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year Award for 2013. Pictured are (L-R): Tim Mancl, Bonnie Mancl, Eugene Mancl, Tammy Mancl-Salewski and Ron Mancl.

How do you see the Associate Division working to support the WPVGA, and has that changed in recent years?

The Associate Division has greatly increased its participation in all aspects of the industry over the past three years to become more of a partner than a participant in our industry. We totally reinvented our annual Golf Outing to allow for corporate and vendor sponsors which nearly tripled our annual income. As a direct result, we’ve increased the number of scholarships we’ve awarded along with giving the highest number of research grants this past year. We provided WPVGA potato chips to the Tomahawk Venison feed the last two years. We are very proud to have been able to provide our largest donation ever toward the Spudmobile that covered the cost of the prep work and exterior graphic wrap for the project. We also gave a sizeable donation to the Auxiliary in support of the Feed My Starving Children event. The Associate Division has also given a number of special consideration donations to members or families in need.

What are the different types of products and services available for potato and vegetable growers at Ron’s Refrigeration?

We have always been considered a One Call solution because we provide design, engineering, installation and service for refrigeration, HVAC, electrical, storage ventilation, ozone generators and chemical applications. We have a very talented staff in all areas and offer 24 hour emergency service.

What do you plan to feature in your booth at this year’s Industry Show?

We have a whole new display booth for this year’s show and will be showing some of the new features on our IVI control panel along with our line of  Guardian Ozone Generators.

rons-refrig-logo_redDo you have any new products coming out that will be of benefit to potato growers in 2015?

Industrial Ventilation has a number of new items for storage we’ll be introducing at the show this year. Working with Aceto Agriculture, we launched two new products this year for use in storage for crop protection. FreshPack 50EC product can now be thermally applied to potatoes in-storage to burn buds, stop sprouting and extend potato dormancy. FreshPack 50EC has been used successfully to burn buds/peepers and sprouts on the packing line and now can be thermally applied to potatoes in-storage. The product label was recently amended to allow for in-storage application and to provide growers, packers, and processors with a new tool for potato sprout control instorage.

Sprout Nip Activator is an advanced adjuvant that is applied with Sprout Nip and Amplify to enhance sprout control and profits from storage. Activator is specially formulated to improve the coverage and performance of sprout inhibitor treatments on stored potatoes. Using Activator with Sprout Nip or Amplify keeps the aerosol particles small and dry for optimum distribution through the potato pile. Activator helps deliver Sprout Nip or Amplify more evenly throughout the potato pile, resulting in more consistent and effective sprout control. Potato growers can harness the most advanced sprout control technology available with Sprout Nip Activator.

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