A visionary who dreamed of starting his own grain company, Herman “Herm” Geers died on Thursday, July 11, in hospice care in Grand Ledge. He was 85.
The death was confirmed by former employer Michigan Agricultural Commodities (MAC) Inc. Geers of Lansing endured a “prolonged decline in his health,” the company said.
As a founder of MAC, one of Michigan’s largest handlers of grain, Geers opened up the company in 1976 as a way to create a new niche in the grain industry. His death follows the passing of MAC weatherman Mark Sterling in March.
“We are going to celebrate Herm’s life, and his legacy at MAC,” said Bruce Sutherland, president of the Lansing-based company. “It makes us sad two folks have left like this, but we are going to celebrate their lives and the legacies they leave. … Herm hired me in 1986. I learned a lot from him. He was a mentor to me. I would not be here today without Herm Geers, and I bet he’s impacted other employees’ lives, too.”
Prior to the MAC, Geers served as a grain trader for the Michigan Elevator Exchange, a division of Farm Bureau Services. Former employees who worked with Geers called him a “good trader” who “got along really well with customers.”
“Herm was really easy going, very likable, and not excitable,” said Ed Powell, former manager of the Michigan Elevator Exchange and a co-worker of Geers. “He was able to roll with the problems and look for solutions without getting too excited. He was a very good trader, and we liked him. When Herm said he was leaving, I didn’t want him to leave. So that night, I wanted to talk to him about any second thoughts he might have had. But, I couldn’t get him to stay.”
Powell said he was good friends with Geers, a person who “didn’t try to cut into our business.”
“He’s the kind of guy you like,” Powell added. “He saw a niche in the grain business and saw that it wasn’t being handled by anybody. He saw that he could make money (there), and that’s what he did.
“It just grew from there. (MAC) is now the largest handler of grain in Michigan.”
Geers is survived by his wife of 65 years, Shirley A. Geers; three sons, David (Patricia) Geers, Greg (Cindy) Geers, and Jeff (Bonnie) Geers; seven grandchildren, Robert (Olivia), Adam (Jennifer), Brad (Jayme), Kyle (Collette), Jenna, Mark (Amanda), and Carter Geers; six great-grandchildren; sister, Janice (Cal) Kuipers; sister-in-law, Jo Geers; and many other family members and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Florence, and brother, Sydney.
A visitation will be held 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Tiffany Funeral home on 3232 W. Saginaw, Lansing. A funeral will follow 11 a.m. Monday, July 15, at River Terrace Church on 1509 River Terrace in East Lansing. There will also be a visitation prior to the funeral at 10 a.m.
Contributions may be made in his memory to Gideon’s. A guest book is available at www.tiffanyfuneralhome.com.
“He started MAC in 1976, and he brought a vision,” Sutherland said. “He thought there was a need for a trading company in Michigan, so he started the company basically from scratch. … It started as a small trading company and turned into one of the largest handlers of grain. Herm should be known for his vision for production agriculture in Michigan.
“He saw that it was going to continue to grow and be a major contributor to Michigan’s economy.”