2018 Rural Builder Hall of Fame Inductees Honored

Three new inductees were welcomed into the Rural Builder Hall of Fame at the 2018 Frame Building Expo. Mike Burkholder, owner of Ohio Timberland Products; Sam Cottrell, owner of Hos-Cot Builders Inc. and Hoosick Self Storage; and Dr. Joe Harner, Head of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Kansas State University, were inducted at an awards luncheon Feb. 15 in Columbus, Ohio

Hall of Fame

2918 Rural Builder Hall of Fame inductees (l-r) Joe Harner, Sam Cottrell and Mike Burkholder.

Mike Burkholder, owner of Ohio Timberland Products has been involved in the construction, design and material supply of various structures (including post frame) virtually his entire life. He began working for his father, Harley, as far back as early elementary school. He later attended the University of Toledo where he achieved his Bachelor and Master degrees  and was hired directly into consulting work by his mentor, the late Al Samborn, founder of the firm SSOE. He became the youngest associate member of the firm and served as the head structural engineer on close to a billion dollars worth of projects.

In early 1994, Burkholder helped his father with an idea to manufacture a nail laminated column. He introduced the idea of using a certified glued structure finger joint in all important interfaces between treated and untreated material and tested the concept at Dr. Frank Woeste’s Virginia Tech lab. To this day, any nail laminated column using a glued finger joint can trace its evolution back to Ohio Timberland Products.

In helping to advance the post-frame industry, Burkholder was active in helping to save the right to use CCA for nail laminated columns. He also helped in minimizing the effect of lower-design values for visually-graded Southern Yellow Pine.

Burkholder is the father of two grown children, Karissa and Kaleb, and his late stepdaughter, Crystal Hoops.

He enjoys spending time with his wife Diana, fishing on their 3-acre pond, and coordinating efforts to bring Christ’s name and relief measures to numerous domestic and international mission efforts, many of which were born out of relationships forged during his years with the NFBA.

Raised on a farm in Hoosick Falls, New York, Sam Cottrell, owner of Hos-Cot Builders, Inc., and Hoosick Self Storage, graduated from Hudson Valley Community College with an Associate Degree in Construction Technology in 1965.

He continued in the construction field, joining the U.S. Naval Construction Forces, better known as the Seabees, in 1966, with two tours in Vietnam.

After the service, Cottrell went to work for the Agway Building Department as a construction supervisor.

He established Hos-Cot Builders Inc. in 1973 with Stuart Hoskins for the purpose of providing construction services to agricultural and commercial markets. This business partnership lasted 40 years until Stuart’s retirement in 2014.

But 40 years wasn’t enough for Cottrell who does not plan to retire anytime soon. He says he plans to continue operating Hos-Cot Buildings and Hoosick Self Storage alongside his supportive wife of 49 years, Doris, concentrating on the agricultural market and specializing in design-build of larger dairy complexes.

Cottrell has been a member of the National Frame Builders Association for 40 years. He served on the Board of Directors 10 years and as Chairman of the Board for two years.

Cottrell founded Vision Works and Envision Dairy in 2008, serving on the Envision Dairy Board of Directors for nine years. He calls his time milking 550 cows at Envision Dairy as one of his ‘hobbies’, just as he does his work as a partner in an organic dairy, High Meadows Dairy Farm, established in 2016.

But as well, he enjoys spending time with family, including his son and daughter, Kenneth and Julie, and two grandchildren, Keenan and Cooper. He also makes time for his love of Corvettes, Harley Davidson motorcycles and fishing.

Dr. Joe Harner, Head of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Kansas State University grew up in the city but his visits to a family farm in his home state of Virginia fueled his interest in agriculture. He also had a mathematical bent, and the two interests eventually connected during his college years.

He pursued his degrees, including a doctorate, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. After receiving his doctorate, opportunities led him to Kansas State University where he has spent his career. Since 1998 most of his focus has been related to the dairy industry.

As part of the K-State Dairy team, Harner has made education presentations in 38 states and has been involved in numerous international dairy project discussions. This has led to significant collaborations and improvements for dairy housing, such as cross-ventilation. Proper cross-ventilation systems paved the way to expand the width of dairy buildings.

An important part of every development has included consideration for cow comfort and cow and employee safety as well as protection of the environment.

As the department head, Harner travels less, but still tries to spend about a quarter of his time traveling to stay in touch with the dairy industry.

The current focus among dairy farmers is how to reduce the cost of milk production through improved feeding systems, stationary mixers and better traffic flow.

Work remains Harner’s focus, especially during the winter months, but his attention will turn to yard work in the spring. Of his three acres, one-third is in flower beds and other plants. He and his wife of 31 years, Milly, just saw the last of their four children graduate from college at the end of 2017.

The Rural Builder Hall of Fame was started by the staff of Rural Builder magazine in 1982 as a way to honor individuals who have helped to grow the post-frame industry. Nominations are made by standing members of the Hall of Fame with the final vote also taken among Hall of Fame members. Rural Builder magazine continues to oversee the annual process.

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