Monmouth College Alumni Join Forces to Run Successful Farm Management and Insurance Agency


Perhaps you’ve heard this one: A teacher, an accountant and a farmer walk into a bar.

But what you haven’t heard is the punchline variation a trio of Monmouth College graduates have created.

Teacher Julie Larson Martin ’00, accountant Rachel Jenks Kunkle ’07 and her husband, farmer Jared Kunkle ’07, have joined forces – along with Julie’s husband, Adam – to form Land Management Partners LLC, a farm management and insurance agency in Monmouth.

Julie, Rachel and Jared were the featured speakers at the February meeting of Monmouth Associates, which drew a crowd of 55 people to Meks on Main in downtown Monmouth.

‘I’ into ‘we’

Married just three weeks following their graduation, Rachel and Jared didn’t immediately start down the agribusiness path, even though becoming a farmer was on Jared’s heart. Rachel started a full-time position at Caterpillar Inc., making the one-hour drive to Peoria every day for two years until Jared got a job in Brimfield.

“We lived in Elmwood, which made it much better for my commute, but we didn’t feel connected to the community,” said Rachel. “And Jared really wanted to farm. We asked ourselves, ‘Where is that going to happen?’ We decided it was Warren County.”

Jared made that career choice even though “it’s something I was told I couldn’t do because I wasn’t born into a farming family,” he said.

That family trait might have been lacking, but Jared had an ace up his sleeve.

“What I did have was a supportive wife,” he said of Rachel. “That turned ‘I’ into ‘we.'”

In addition to help received through Monmouth’s Security Savings Bank, where Rachel’s father, Stan Jenks, was president, Jared said a chance meeting at a conference also gave him a big assist.

“I was at conference with ag economist David Kohl, and I just happened to be seated next to him at my table,” said Jared, who raises corn and soybeans. “I still thank him to this day for the advice he gave me.”

With a young family, Rachel left Caterpillar and did part-time work, but “it wasn’t a great fit. I realized that the farm financials were something I could do – probably should do.”

She took the plunge in 2015, “solely focused on farming with Jared,” and, now, on LMP, as well. She uses her accounting background in financial recordkeeping for all of the couples’ entities.

Also in 2015, Jared and Adam became partners, beginning what is now Land Management Partners LLC.

The insurance side

Two major development in the partnership occurred in 2017. One was Julie becoming involved after 13 years of teaching – including 10 as a fourth-grade teacher at United North Elementary School – and three years of being a stay-at-home mom. While teachers do get the summer off, she said there’s not much free time in the profession during the school year, and she now has the flexibility to tend to family matters when needed.

The other milestone started with a discussion Jared had with Rachel’s uncle, Fred Jenks.

“I talked to Fred the day after Easter,” said Jared. “I said, ‘Please don’t take this the wrong way, but what are your plans for your business when you move on?’ He said, ‘It’s interesting you’re asking that, because (Fred’s wife) Dixie and I have looked across the church at you and Rachel and thought you’d be good at the business.'”

Land Management Partners purchased Fred Jenks Insurance Services and renamed it LMP Agency. Jared is a licensed real estate broker, and he and Rachel are licensed in property, casualty, life and health insurance.

“Service and relationships in the community are a big thing for us,” said Jared.

In addition to their farm and LMP, Jared and Rachel are business partners with Kunkle Trucking, KM Land Solutions and one of the local cemeteries, Warren County Memorial Park.

“I’m told I’m not allowed to buy any more businesses,” said Jared.

And that’s OK, for now. Asked about a five- or 10-year plan for LMP, Jared used the word “satisfied.”

“I’m rarely content, but we’re very satisfied with where we’re at now,” he said. “We do have an interest in potentially adding an agent at some point, but the insurance industry is kind of all over the place right now, and we’d like to wait until it stabilizes some before bringing somebody new into that.”

Their Monmouth education

Although a history major certainly isn’t a prerequisite for the type of work she does now, Rachel said studying the subject at Monmouth has given her a unique perspective.

“When I was a student, Simon and Stacy Cordery were both history professors, and they’re the ones who drew me to history,” she said. “They taught that what happened 20 years ago is affecting what’s happening today. I look at things that way now, looking back to see how those events are shaping the present.”

She said her accounting background definitely comes into play, both in terms of her routine work, but also, “I feel like I can analyze all of Jared’s ‘opportunities.'”

Julie said that in her new LMP role, her experiences as a Fighting Scot athlete are an asset, as her time on the track team “really helps with my people skills,” she said.

***Courtesy of Barry McNamara, Monmouth College***

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