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Bob Majkrzak Is 2021’s Gold Award Honoree

Saturday, August 14, 2021
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Bob Majkrzak
Bob Majkrzak
Robert (Bob) Majkrzak was named this spring as the 2021 recipient of the National Sunflower Association’s Gold Award, the highest award presented to an individual by the NSA.  While the Gold Award is typically presented at the annual NSA Summer Seminar in late June, the cancellation of this year’s event due to Covid concerns means Majkrzak will formally receive his award at the 2022 NSA Summer Seminar in Grand Forks, N.D.
        Majkrzak retired in 2019 as president and CEO of Red River Commodities, the Fargo, N.D.-based company with which he was associated since 1985.  (He remained as an advisor to management until January 2020.)  During his long career with Red River, he grew the company from one operation to several divisions — including SunButter®, SunGold Foods, Red River Global Ingredients and wildlife food processing — with multiple U.S. processing locations and customers throughout the world.
        Majkrzak also was very active in the National Sunflower Association, serving on the NSA Board of Directors for 12 years and as a member of the NSA Confection Committee for numerous years, some as chairman.  He was a leader on several key issues facing the sunflower industry, including the adoption of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, Blair House Agreement, international trade,  research and several farm bills.
        “To be nominated for this award and acknowledged by members of the industry is gratifying and humbling,” Majkrzak says.  “The first Gold Award was presented in 1989, the year I became president and CEO of Red River Commodities.  The list of recipients for this award is truly a remarkable group whom I admired over all my years.   These individuals contributed with hard work and dedication to the industry, which inspired me — and I hope will continue to inspire others.”
        Majkrzak also readily acknowledges his co-workers at Red River Commodities.  “They are some of the best people in my life,” he states.  “Together, we made a sunflower company that operated in such a unique way, recognizing the sourcing from regional locations and processing to the desired standards for a worldwide demand.  The greatest change for our company was to link our sourcing and processing to consumer-ready products such as wild bird food, roasted and flavoring sunflower products —and the development of SunButter.”
        Family is also central to 2021’s Gold Award recipient.  “Being a farm family, I credit my parents for giving me my love for agriculture and commitment to hard work and community,” Majkrzak says.  Since fully retiring in 2020, he has had additional time to enjoy family while remaining active in business.  “I am fortunate to have sons and a daughter who have created business activities that I can share in,” he observes.  “The massive change in world business due to the Covid pandemic has been intriguing to follow, and certainly some of the ‘old’ ways are being challenged as we move forward.” 
        Majkrzak likewise pays tribute to the NSA, noting that “working with the National Sunflower Association has been a pleasure.  NSA staff Larry Kleingartner, John Sandbakken and Tina Mittelsteadt deserve so much credit for the industry success.  During my years on the NSA Board of Directors and the Confection Sunflower Committee, Larry, John or Tina were always there, assisting with any issue that was facing either producers or processors.”
        Of particular satisfaction to Majkrzak was his involvement in the Blair House Agreement that limited the subsidies that the European Union could put on confection sunflower.  “This allowed U.S.-grown and -processed confection sunflower to gain world market share during the ’90s and early 2000s.”  Also, work on the Food Safety Modernization Act (2010) brought much-needed alignment of rules and regulations in the growing and processing of all sunflower. — Don Lilleboe
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