Dave Junge: An Ag-Tech Visionary in Precision Blending Systems
A special Legacy Award is being presented on behalf of the PrecisionAg Institute to honor the work of Dave Junge, the innovator behind the precision mixing and blending systems developed by Junge Control of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
Husband, father, entrepreneur, and visionary, Dave passed away in May of this year after a brave battle with pancreatic cancer.
“With Dave, it was a lifetime of the ‘next new thing.’ He was always ahead of the curve, and one who thought outside of the box. Our trends are what other people wanted to copy – that was the excitement for him, always being the first to try something new,” his wife of 41 years and business partner, Mary Junge, tells PrecisionAg in an interview.
Mary and Dave started Junge Control in their garage in 1979. The pair’s skills – Dave led the sales and innovation and Mary, as a CPA, took on the CFO role – proved to be a winning combination. Through hard work and passion, they eventually grew it to be an industry leader in technology with 25 employees. In 2018, the Junges sold their business to Winnipeg, Canada-based Ag Growth International.
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Over the years at the helm of Junge Control, he was known not only for having the most precise accuracy in measurement using liquid blending systems, saving the customer huge sums of money, but also for his knack for bringing simplicity to that which was complicated. A prime example: the company’s bestselling Chem Way mixing system, the original base piece upon which many bells and whistles could be added according to user’s wishes. He added a control panel with plug-in capability to the system, for which, Mary explains, customers often expressed their appreciation, because they could understand it and it was easily installed.
She points to the enduring quality of just one of her husband’s innovations: “Even though it has been a popular product for many years, with the recent changes in types of chemicals that farmers are using, it is again in very high demand.”
Although Dave received plenty of awards for his ag technology prowess, including Bayer Supplier of the Year, “he wasn’t the kind of person after recognition,” Mary explains. “He was after making the industry better. He had such an effect on industry and making a better product that was better for the environment, also from a cost perspective.”
Given his flair for trailblazing, it was only natural that emerging ag technologies never stopped capturing his interest. “He was definitely fascinated with drones, and thinks they have a big future in agriculture,” says Mary.
As he wrapped up his business around the first of the year, he began diving into research and exploration on the topic. He arranged for a private tour, along with his wife, of a drone start-up, eager to get a glimpse up-close.
“Data science was another area Dave loved to explore. Having the correct data to refer to was invaluable when problems arise,” Mary says.
The way Dave handled the sale of their nearly 40-year-old company speaks volumes about the person he was. He was determined that the buyer continue operating the business in Cedar Rapids and that all jobs be retained. “The employees were considered extended family to Dave and he took a personal interest in each and every one of them,” his obituary reads.
Also important to Dave was his passion for farming. He took great pride in operating Century Family Farms in both his and Mary’s family, and enjoyed working side by side with his dad and his father-in-law, Allan. Dave’s greatest focus in life was his family and he was very proud of the gentleman his son Matthew has become.
Asked how she would like people to remember him, it would be for his desire for collaboration and the respect he showed others. “Dave was very unselfish when it came to sharing his ideas and his time with others. He always listened to others’ opinions and respected them, whether customers, peers or employees, even if he didn’t necessarily agree.”