The following article is shared with permission from the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. It can also be read on their website or in the January/February 2024 edition of “Chamber News” magazine.
Growing up on a dairy and hog farm in northwest Iowa, DeGroot thought he would return to the family farm after college. After graduating from South Dakota State University in 2003 with a degree in ag business and a minor in ag marketing, he did just that.
Nine months later, after reassessing the capital needs of the dairy barn, he took a job in student loan collections at Wells Fargo in Sioux Falls. While that was not the career he first had in mind, DeGroot credits his seven years in that position with equipping him for his future positions.
“If you want to learn how to talk to people, communicate with people, negotiate with people…get into collections. You will learn how to talk to people on a phone and understand what they need and what’s going on,” he said. “The collections background actually was really, really good. It’s not something in life anybody says, ‘I really want to be a collector,’ but having that background has really helped me in my career.”
DeGroot transitioned to ag lending with Wells Fargo at the Stockyards when the Obama administration made changes to the student loan industry. Eventually he transferred to the bank’s branch in Beresford, where he served customers in the communities of Beresford, Irene and Viborg.
After Wells Fargo, DeGroot worked in ag lending at Home Federal Bank in Canton, Lennox and Crooks for about four years. In 2015, the ag banking manager at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, Brian Gilbert, reached out to invite DeGroot to come work for them. He made the switch, and today DeGroot serves as an ag banking team lead in Sioux Falls.
His first involvement with the Chamber’s Agribusiness Division was in 2011 when he began attending monthly meetings. DeGroot volunteered at the Sioux Empire Livestock Show for the first time that year as well. He assisted with the swine show, not realizing at first that he would take over that show from previous chair Keith Goehring.
“It was flying by the seat of my pants and now it’s a really fun week,” DeGroot said.
He has since handed off the swine show chair duties to Austin Langemeier. Now DeGroot is in charge of the Sale of Champions, which occurs on Friday night. He also helps set up for the full livestock show on Monday.
Many of DeGroot’s colleagues at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls also volunteer at the Sioux Empire Livestock Show. Team members clerk the Angus sale and the bank is a gold sponsor for the Supreme Row.
DeGroot grew up participating in 4-H and FFA. He showed some dairy cattle and hogs from his family’s herd at the county fair but did not travel around showing animals. He sees the hard work the exhibitors put in every year during the livestock show.
“You see all these young kids and their families. This is what they just do and this is their life and this is how they connect as families and it’s very important to them,” DeGroot said. “If it’s that important to them it needs to be important to us to put on a good show for them. I didn’t grow up in the show world, but you see how hard these kids are working. It’s exciting to see that and you want to put on the best show that you possibly can for them.”
While he’s working full time as an ag banker, DeGroot still farms 150 acres in Iowa where he plants, sprays and combines.
DeGroot is excited about the addition of Woster Plaza at the Stockyards Ag Experience and what it will do for agriculture in Sioux Falls.
“When that is built, that’s going to be huge for ag inside of Sioux Falls and showing all of these Sioux Falls kids what agriculture is really all about,” DeGroot said. “Abby (Bischoff) does a good job of doing that right now, but when Woster Plaza’s completed, I think that’s going to be huge for agriculture inside of Sioux Falls just showing young kids where their food comes from and what farming is all about as opposed to what they hear on the news, which isn’t necessarily accurate.”
DeGroot is a member the South Dakota Ag & Rural Leadership Class XII. As he gets started in the two-year program, he is excited to meet new people and learn about agriculture around the state.
“That’s exciting to meet other people in South Dakota.”