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How I Work: The many hats of a cow comfort dealer

Derick Van Nes for Progressive Dairyman Published on 12 September 2016
Derick Van Nes

A hat has many uses: It shields our eyes from the sun’s glare, it protects the top of our heads and in many cases serves as a fashion accessory. Ask any devoted hat wearer, and they will have a favorite hat, a hat they are known by.

I wear many “hats.” With my work at Artex Barn Solutions, there is no such thing as a typical day. On any given day I could be flying across the country or the globe to help with the installation, sales and support of our cow comfort products. It is my job, during the barn planning process, to make sure the right cow comfort products are ordered, installed and utilized correctly.



When I meet with a dairy farmer, I don’t just want to make a sale but also establish a firm and genuine relationship. During the installation process, I need to be on hand to ensure the cow comfort products are installed correctly and educate the installers in the proper usage of our products. Even after the cows are in the barn, my job is far from over. I have to be available to fix any problems that may arise or answer any questions and concerns.

Another of my main duties is assisting the dealer network of Federal Ag Supply, which is the official distributor of Artex Barn Solutions products in the U.S. If flying doesn’t work out or if the weather is good, I travel all over the country in my RV. During the summer months, I live in and work out of my RV, but I have discovered that the RV does not take kindly to the winter months of upper Iowa and the more northern states.

So far, I have been to 42 out of 50 states. Out of those 42, my heart will always belong to Texas. While in Texas, I have the chance to spend time with friends and family and occasionally get away for a weekend fishing in the Gulf of Mexico with my family in southern Texas.

When you’re there, you can see the sun come up over the horizon forever, and the sunsets are beautiful. The Minneapolis area is great because of the vibe of the city. Denver is also a fantastic place, one of my favorites in fact, but in Texas I feel like I am finally home.

No dairy road trip would be complete without a stop in the hotbed of the dairy industry: California. The West Coast also has a special place in my heart because of the culture and lifestyle the Western U.S. enjoys. If I had to live anywhere other than Texas, I would choose central California because of the farming culture.


One of my favorite spots in California is Napa Valley because when I’m there I get to spend time with my aunt and cousins, tour vineyards and take the occasional hot air balloon ride. San Diego is another favorite California spot of mine.

Kansas City will always hold a special place in my heart as well. My two favorite sports teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and 2016 World Series Champions Kansas City Royals, also call Kansas City home. I have never yet missed a NASCAR dealer appreciation weekend hosted by Federal Ag Supply and Artex Barn Solutions.

At last year’s dealer weekend, I managed to get my RV stuck in the mud in the parking area. A large crowd gathered to watch as truck after truck tried and failed to pull me out of the mud. I finally got my RV of the mud with the help of a massive wrecker, an experience I’m not likely to forget any time soon.

Just as a side note, Kansas City barbecue is the best barbecue around, but I’d like to add that Texas barbecue is a close second. I never leave Kansas City without at least one meal at one of the many barbecue places around Kansas City.

I wear many hats. My black company hat is a staple in my collection, but so are the hats of educator, long-haul driver, engineer and barn designer. My favorite hat is the “Dad” hat.

I am the proud father of four children: Kassidy, age 17; Ethan, age 13; Taylor, age 11; and Cole, age 9. Being on the road so much is difficult on my family, but this summer they spent time with me on the road traveling to dairies, with a lot of fun and scenic stops along the way.


I do many different things and have a lot of different hats. I try to put as much of myself into my job as I can. It’s nice to be needed, to know that you are a big part of something. I like to be needed by my family. I like to be needed at my job, and it’s a big plus to be so needed that I get to travel all over the U.S. and around the world to help out the dairy industry.

So if you ever see me, I would love to take the time and get to know you. I have plenty of stories saved up about my adventures in my trusty RV, not to mention the stories from my travels around the world, like the time TSA interrogated me before I flew to Egypt. It is always an adventure to see which hat I will tug on each day. Chances are, it will not be the same one I’m wearing when the day is over.  end mark

Derick Van Nes is with Artex Barn Solutions Ltd. Email Erick Van Nes.