North Dakota native grew up on sugarbeet farm and has 40 years of experience in the sugar industry

With 40 years of experience in the sugarbeet industry, including the role of Director of Agriculture for American Crystal Sugar Company, Dan Gowan is joining the team at Michigan Sugar Company as Vice President of Agriculture.

A native of North Dakota, Dan earned his associate degree in mechanical and farm management in 1977 from Northwest Community College in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Four years later, in 1981, he planted his career with American Crystal, working for 10 years as an Agriculturist in two of the company’s North Dakota growing districts, where he had direct contact with growers, providing them with best agricultural practices to maximize their yields and profits.

From 1991 to 1998, he served as Agricultural Superintendent for American Crystal in Drayton, North Dakota. In this role, among other duties, he oversaw the maintenance and repair side of the company’s Agriculture Department, managed assigned sugarbeet piling stations during harvest, and was responsible for monitoring storage conditions at piling sites.

Dan was named Ag Operations Manager for American Crystal in 1998. In that capacity he oversaw the company’s sugarbeet harvest in the Minnesota growing districts of Crookston and East Grand Forks; directed the maintenance of all harvest and beet storage equipment at those district’s piling grounds; and was responsible for a harvest labor contract that involved 1,250 positions.

From 2013 to 2021, Dan served as Director of Agriculture for American Crystal. In this role he was a member of the company’s Operating Committee, managed five Ag Operations Managers and the company’s Research Manager, planned annual budgets for the Ag Department, oversaw budgets and placements for capital projects, and worked with the company’s environmental group to manage piling grounds.

“During my career, I had the fortune of being in all five of American Crystal’s growing districts with different roles,” said Dan. “The moves and challenges offered a high degree of learning experiences, including an understanding of agricultural changes and advancements, the ability to communicate and build and maintain relationships, and knowledge of how company policy and procedures impact overall success.”

Dan said he is looking forward to a return to the sugarbeet industry as a member of the Michigan Sugar Company team.

“What I can bring to this company is the ability to make decisions, understanding the risks and rewards; build teams that work hard together to achieve common goals; bring the profit to the bottom line for the growers so they can continue to expand and improve; and be a part of making Michigan Sugar a big success.”

Michigan Sugar Company President and CEO Neil Juhnke, who worked with Dan during his own 15 years at American Crystal, said Dan’s experience in the industry is unmatched.

“Dan has probably been responsible for harvest and piling and storage of more beets than anyone else in the history of the industry,” he said. “I know him very well and I think he will be a tremendous asset to our company. We are very fortunate to have him as part of our team at Michigan Sugar.”

Juhnke also thanked Tommy Bignall, who has been serving as Vice President of Agriculture for the past year.

“Tommy will revert back to his role as Director of Ag Operations and will certainly continue to be a key leader within the company,” he said. “We are appreciative of his dedication to this company and the work he has done in this position.”

Dan grew up on a farm and followed both his father and grandfather in growing sugarbeets.

“Beets have been a part of my life since the day I was born,” he said, adding the farm remains in the family and is now run by Dan’s cousins.

Dan and his long-time partner Annette Cedarberg are planning a move from Fargo, North Dakota, to Michigan. Between them, the couple has five children, including Dan’s three children – Nicholas, who works as an English teacher in Shanghai, China; Kali, who lives in Andover, Minnesota, and works as an orthodontist assistant; and Colton, who lives in Grand Forks, has a degree in bioinformatics and is pursuing opportunities in the computer programming field. Dan also has two grandchildren.

In his free time, Dan enjoys bicycling, walking, fishing, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and rebuilding and restoring old trucks.