Our Leadership Team

Operational Leadership

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Darren R. Frye, President & CEO

Darren grew up in Illinois agriculture, on an innovative farming enterprise that stretched from a poultry operation consisting of turkeys and layers to an orchard to a helicopter crop dusting business.  He started his first agricultural business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting.  His genuine concern for the success of farmers propelled him to start his own consulting business in 1994.  Today, Water Street Solutions helps farmers with the challenges they face in growing and improving their farms.  Darren has traded commodities since 1982, and is a dynamic speaker and leader. He writes a blog, called Finance First, on FarmFutures.com and a column, Money Matters, in Illinois and Indiana AgriNews.

For information on having Darren speak for your event or group, see program topics and videos on his speaker page or contact us.

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Becky Frye, Controller

Becky co-founded Water Street Solutions with her husband and business partner, Darren Frye, in 1994. As controller of the company, she oversees the financial success of the organization. Becky's passion for agriculture was fostered by the hands-on experience she gained by working in the production, livestock and helicopter spraying businesses of her in-law's family farm. Becky prides herself on the ‘family’ culture she helps maintain at Water Street. She ensures that our core values and passion for serving farmers are imparted to all new employees through the orientation program she helped create.

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Dean Heffta, Director of Training and Development

Dean was raised on a family farm in northeast North Dakota.  He graduated from the University of Minnesota with bachelor's degrees in Agronomy and Ag Business.  He obtained his MBA degree from Drake University in Des Moines.  Dean launched his career in agronomy sales.  He has completed the Iowa Corn Growers' I-LEAD Leadership Program and was named one of Peoria Magazines’ 40 Leaders Under Forty in 2013.  Dean has authored a column in Corn and Soybean Digest called Think, challenging farmers to think differently about their operations. He joined Water Street Solutions in 2006.

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Andrea Majors, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Manager

Andrea grew up on a small farm in Central Illinois, learning at an early age the value of a strong work ethic and dedication. She attended Illinois Central College and later was awarded two certifications--Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resources Certification Institute, and Senior Certified Professional form the Society of Human Resources Management. As Human Resources Manager, Andrea is not only a valued resource to Water Street employees, she is also passionate about educating and advising clients in human resources, communication and development. In this way, she helps clients deal with the pain of facing difficult employee issues, leading to better understanding and in turn maximizing client employees' performance and enabling a more efficiently run operation.

Jeff Newkirk, Workflow Manager

Jeff grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, majoring in Finance and minoring in Economics. While earning his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa, he spent time working on his family's farm in Iowa, which was managed by his uncle. He'd always had the desire to work in agriculture but had never been afforded the opportunity. After graduating and leaving Iowa, Jeff went on to earn his doctorate degree from the University of Colorado. He then spent nearly 20 years in healthcare management. In 2016, Jeff joined Water Street Solutions as the Workflow Manager, allowing him to fulfill a lifelong dream of working in the agriculture industry.

Client Leadership

Jason Ladman, Account Manager

Jason was raised on a family farm in east central Nebraska that consisted of row crop production and included a cow-calf operation. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor's degree in Ag Business. Jason began his career in a large cooperative system in Nebraska where he specialized in fertility and integrated pest management. He soon found his passion was helping farmers in every area of their business. Jason joined Water Street Solutions in 2006. He currently manages our regional office, located in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Larry Custer, Account Manager

Larry is a native of Illinois who grew up around his grandfather’s cattle operation. He majored in Management of Information Systems at Midstate College. He served for four years of active duty with the U.S. Army, where he first became interested in the field of human resources. Larry became a business owner and entrepreneur early in his career, purchasing a restaurant at the age of 22. Later, he helped a national retail chain expand through new store location planning. Larry also has nine years of experience in operations and personnel management for a 200-person staff.  In 2008, Larry brought his business management knowledge and experience to Water Street Solutions as Director of Operations.

Lance Burditt, Account Manager

Lance grew up on his family’s grain and livestock farm in northeast Missouri, where his passion for agriculture was developed through involvement in 4-H and FFA. He has a bachelor’s degree in Ag Economics and a master’s in Agribusiness Management from the University of Missouri. Lance started his career with Monsanto through various sales, product management and marketing roles. He left the business world for a few years while pursuing his master’s degree and taught undergraduate courses in sales and marketing. He then spent five years as a Vice President and Managing Director for Osborn Barr, a marketing communications firm focused on ag clients. Lance joined Water Street Solutions in 2012.