Daniel Schindler is a well-traveled man, having spent four years near London working for Cargill Inc., supporting financial trading systems at its European headquarters. But to find what he truly wanted to do, Schindler needed to come home.
Schindler grew up in Wausau, Wis. and after working in Minnesota for IBM and Cargill, and spending four years in Europe, he needed a change. He was involved in trading on the periphery in technology support and wanted a more hands-on position, so he became a personal advisor for Edward Jones. “I was around trading a lot, but I was trained as a software programmer,” Schindler says.
But before he started that job, he agreed to meet with Mark Potter, a friend of his parents, and make some farm supply sales calls with him. “I shook hands with a bunch of farmers, saw what Mark did and thought, ‘I like this better,’” Schindler says. He resigned from Edward Jones before his official start date in 2002.
Potter was working with farmers for a farm supply cooperative but had bigger things on his mind. At the time, a Federal program called the Dairy Options Pilot Program (DOPP), in which the government encouraged dairy farmers to hedge their production with options and offset 80% of the cost of the premium, recently had launched. Potter helped create a brokerage division at the co-op to help farmers hedge their risk.
Keith Schnese, Schindler and Potter would build that business up and in 2004 go out on their own, forming KDM Trading.
“We were working with individual dairy farms; looking at the cost of production [and] helping them put together a risk management and marketing plan to offset some of the volatility of milk prices,” Schindler says. They also developed relationships with some large cheese plants to run their hedge programs.
“We go out and visit the farms, shake hands with the guys at their kitchen table, find out about their operations [and] what their cost of production is,” he says. “We really get to know them personally and that is what sticks. We have very low customer turnover; they are very loyal because we know them.”