Melissa Wheeler, Farm Bureau

The North Bend Eagle

 

North Bend Grain
Drew von Rein sits in the same place his father did for a 1958 photo. The scale they use came with the elevator in 1958 but was redone in 2010 expanding it from a 60 foot to 70 foot scale.

The family business goes on

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 3/24/21

The von Rein family has been at the corner of highways 30 and 79 since 1944. Agriculture in the North Bend area has been part of the von Rein family for 63 years.

Andrew, Andy, von Rein was born in 1912 and raised in Hooper. His dad had a creamery and was a carpenter. After a year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the depression sent him home and Andy started working for a grain business in Hooper scooping coal. Ames Coop was looking for a manager and asked the Hooper manager if he knew of anyone qualified. Von Rein’s name came up and he was named manger in Ames in spring 1940.

In November 1942 von Rein received a letter from a grain merchant in Omaha. At the end of the typed letter, the writer added, “as we said before you are too good for a town the size of Ames.”

Putting that into action, von Rein became manager of the grain division of Cherny and Watson Lumber Company in North Bend and Tekamah. This also got him involved in Millard Lumber and Grain Company.

In 1958 von Rein bought Cherny and Watson grain business, renaming it North Bend Grain. And it remains in the family with son, Drew, now running the business.

“There have been hard times through the years, but it’s been good,” Drew said.
In the summer of 1961 the large cement elevator that still stands today was built on the southwest corner of the highway intersection. Its capacity is 400,000 bushels. At 165 feet, it remains the tallest building in North Bend. The buildings are all on railroad ground so the von Rein’s own the buildings but not the ground.

“Dad wondered if he would ever fill the elevator,” Drew von Rein said. “I wonder if it will ever empty.”

During its construction, the cement elevator was poured around the clock for two weeks. An 11-year old Drew von Rein took the leftover forms home to built a tree house.

Drew graduated from North Bend High School in 1968, attended Kearney State College, graduating in 1972 with a degree in business. He interviewed at a few other places but ended up coming back home.

“Dad wanted to know if I’d come back,” Drew said. “He encouraged me, but didn’t pressure me.”

Drew had worked at the elevator summers and helped out during harvest. After college he started working full time for $500 a month.

“I was comfortable with it until the first year I was back,” Drew said.

He found the full time job was a little more involved than the tasks he was given as a summer helper in high school.

His brother-in-law John Buller joined the business in 1975. He was the outside manager. Drew was the inside manager.

 

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