In this day and age of individuals making several career changes in their lifetimes, not many people can say they have worked nearly 50 years for the same company. "That's why it is important to recognize individuals like Larry Stirler who recently retired from DuPont Pioneer after 48 years of service," said Patrick Yockey, DuPont Pioneer business director, northern business unit.
Larry retired October 7 from his role as production technician and now holds the record for longest- serving employee at the Reinbeck, Iowa, production location. The old record holder was Don Watson serving a mere 47 years.
Larry was born and raised in Reinbeck, the son of John and Helga, and has lived in Reinbeck all of his life, except for 1966-1968 when he was stationed near Williamsburg, Virginia, in the service of his country. Larry's dad passed away when he was just 23, leaving him, an only child, to care for his mother until she just recently passed.
Larry graduated from Reinbeck High School in 1965, and took a summer job working at the local canning factory. When summer turned into fall he found himself moving down the road to take his first job with Pioneer as a harvest temp. Larry's job was unloading dryer bins, "Back when it was hard work and you had to scoop it out with a shovel. Back then the dryers, including the floors, were all wooden with chicken wire. Sometimes you would catch your shovel on the chicken wire, and then you would spend the next hour fixing the chicken-wired floor," said Larry.
After that first fall harvest, plant manager Wayne Brown asked Larry if he wanted to stick around and work full-time. Larry agreed and October 5, 1965, was his first of many days as a full-time employee of Pioneer. Through his time with Pioneer, Larry held a variety of positions, including planting area supervisor, detasseling supervisor, and lift truck operator.
In recalling some memories about planting Larry remarked, "Growers would plant with a four or six row planter and some of them even had an eight row." In addition, Larry remarked on detasseling work, "Pioneer didn't use contractors, there would be just one person or so and they might have an acre. During rouging season, the detasseling supervisors had to do our own areas, or we would hire a couple car loads of teenagers and they would derogue all day."
When asked about challenges and changes over the years he shared the increased importance of safety and seasonality. "The seasons did not run all together, you would have one season, and then have a couple weeks to prepare and take a little time off before the next season got rolling," said Larry.
When asked what some of his favorite memories were, he said "We had a lot of fun out in-the-fields. My area was Dinsdale and we used to go to the Dinsdale elevator for break. We also had a lot of fun at the end of season gatherings after detasseling." He stated that what he enjoyed most about working at Pioneer were the people he worked with.
In retirement Larry plans to travel and just be retired. His hobbies include trains and photography.