SHAWANO, Wis. - Current GENEX COO Keith Heikes will assume the position of CEO of Cooperative Resources International (CRI) upon the retirement of Doug Wilson in August.
The cooperative, which includes GENEX, has more than $189 million in revenue and employs 1,350 people worldwide. CRI has a long-standing tradition of developing employees and promoting people within their ranks. A great deal of resources are spent on training and continuing education of employees.
"I'm almost an old-timer," said Heikes, referring to his lengthy history within the cooperative and the industry, as a whole. He has spent the past 36 years holding various positions within the artificial insemination and dairy cattle breeding industries.
Heikes has been with CRI or its predecessors since 1990. He held the position of GENEX COO since 2014, and previously served as the general manager of NOBA, and headed up the international division of CRI for 15 years.
In his new role, Heikes will use his extensive knowledge of the organization to continue to build on the cooperative's goals. He is looking forward to becoming more involved in the areas of the cooperative that he does not have working experience with.
Setting the strategic plan for the future of the company will encompass a great deal of his time, working to develop the direction for each of the different facets of the business.
Heikes acknowledges that while the company is not directly involved in marketing milk, the current dairy economy and struggles facing producers affect the company's bottom line.
"We want to help farmers make the best management decisions, and provide them with the best genetic programs for them to be more profitable," Heikes said.
That help will come in the form of providing products and services to help members make more money and realize more profit from their dairy operations. These products and services are the result of CRI's commitment to continued research and development.
"We invest in research," said Heikes, pointing out that research development is a primary driver behind developing their strategic plan.
Heikes noted that recently there has great deal of consolidation in production agriculture globally, largely driven by technology.
"It's in our DNA to look into things, and to work to make things more efficient and profitable," Heikes said.
Outside of his employment in the industry, Heikes has been active in the dairy cattle breeding and artificial insemination industries. He has held positions on both the National Association of Animal Breeders and Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding boards of directors for several years. He has also been involved with the USDA FAS emerging markets projects.