Interview with Wendy Alsum-Dykstra
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
Following in her father’s footsteps, Wendy Alsum-Dykstra went to school for accounting and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and Master of Professional Accountancy degrees.
Her dad, Larry Alsum, who grew up on a family-owned dairy farm, had gone to college to become a certified public accountant for Houghton, Taplick & Company, in Madison.
Unfortunately, in 1981, Larry’s cousin, Glen, died tragically in a plane crash. Glen was the original owner of what was then Alsum Produce Inc., a potato and vegetable repacking operation.
Glen had started the company, in 1973, and worked out of a 600-square-foot shed. He bought 50- and 100-pound bags of Wisconsin potatoes and onions, which he repackaged into smaller 5-, 10- and 15-pound bags, selling them to local grocers.
After Glen’s death, Larry made the decision to leave the public accounting sector and assume reins of Alsum Produce as general manager and owner.
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
In 2010, Larry changed the name of Alsum Produce to Alsum Farms & Produce, Inc. to better reflect the company’s long-term growth plans and commitment to locally grown produce.
Potatoes and onions are a mainstay of the business, and visitors can see, smell, and if lucky enough, even taste the fresh vegetables at Alsum Farms & Produce in Friesland, Wisconsin.
Larry began growing Wisconsin potatoes in 1989, and today, he and his crew farm 2,800 acres of Healthy Grown russet, red, white, gold, purple and fingerling potatoes in the lower Wisconsin River Valley, specifically in Grand Marsh and Arena.
A national distributor of Wisconsin potatoes and onions, Alsum Farms & Produce has over 150,000 square feet of production and warehouse facilities and distributes a full line of 300 fruits and vegetables in the Midwest, along with locally grown produce.
And what about Wendy? Well, she’s a chief operating officer (COO) for Alsum Farms & Produce, LLC, working alongside her dad and sister, Heidi Alsum-Randall, who serves as joint COO.
Wendy was kind enough to sit down for an interview and answer some questions about the state and progress of the business, including how harvest went this year and what the future holds.