Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Noel K. Estenson's visionary leadership and willingness to take bold steps positioned agricultural cooperative members for 21 century success in the competitive global marketplace. Throughout his nearly 40-year career, he recognized the value of new business structures - joint ventures and mergers - as a means of creating operating efficiencies that built stronger cooperative organizations.
In the early 1980s, he led the formation of the ground-breaking joint venture between Cenex, Inc. and Land O' Lakes Inc. that eliminated duplication in both cooperatives agricultural supply and energy operations. In 1998, Estenson envisioned the long-term strategic value for member-owners of uniting supply cooperative Cenex with its grains and foods counterpart, Harvest States Cooperatives, which culminated in the largest unification in co-op history.
The resulting creation of CHS Inc., has returned value to its member-owners across the U.S. through reliable supplies of agricultural inputs, a competitive position in the global grain markets and unprecedented financial returns. Estenson served as CEO of CHS until his retirement in 2000.