Rural Builder Hall of Fame Recipients: 1982-Present


Marvin Hall

Marvin Hall

Hall, Marvin
Inducted: 1982
University of Illinois Agricultural Engineer – Macomb, Illinois

A low key, soft-spoken educator, Marv is one of the country’s real leaders when it comes to helping both rural contractors and farmers come up with innovative building construction techniques.

One of the early proponents of solar energy for agriculture, Marvin helped pioneer many energy-saving ideas currently being used to heat confinement livestock structures, warm farm shops and dry grain.


Jay D. Harmon

Jay D. Harmon

Harmon, Jay D.
Inducted: 2003
Iowa State University – Ames, Iowa

Harmon is an associate professor in the Agricultural and Bio-Systems Engineering Department at Iowa State University and a registered professional engineer. He began his career in 1989 as the state farm structures Extension specialist at Clemson University. He investigated the causes of farm structure failures in the wake of Hurricane Hugo, and his published findings and his many building plans helped improve the quality of agricultural construction in South Carolina.

In 1993, Harmon became Extension Livestock Housing specialist at Iowa State. He took the lead in developing standardized swine building plans to educate builders and farmers on required functionality of swine buildings. He is active in the development of MidWest Plan Service educational materials and represents Iowa on the Pork Industry Handbook Committee. He has also developed Extension programs on proper ventilation, manure management, and other aspects of livestock systems design.

In 1995 Harmon started an annual educational conference, the Iowa Farm and Frame Builders Conference, to help rural builders learn innovative building techniques and other information.


Joe Harner

Joe Harner, Ph.D
Inducted: 2018
Department Head
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Kansas State University

Harner’s interest in agriculture combined with a mathematical bent led him to ag engineering. He earned his degrees at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has spent his entire career at Kansas State University. Since 1998 most of his focus has related to dairy housing. His work has led to significant collaborations and improvements for dairy housing, including cross-ventilation. An important part of every development has included consideration for cow comfort, cow and employee safety and protection of the environment.


Virgil Hartje

Virgil Hartje

Hartje, Virgil
Inducted: 1995
Hartje Lumber Company – La Valle, Wisconsin

Virgil got his start working as a laborer for a commercial/industrial steel erector before opening his own construction business in 1969. that business has grown to become a large, regional lumber brokerage and contractor/retail building materials supplier.

Harje Lumber has more that 100,000 sq. ft. under roof in 16 buildings, 46 employees, and $100,000 invested in new computer technology to help serve its customers. The equipment includes several computer-aided design and drafting systems, enabling the company to produce building plans, material lists, and kitchen cabinet layouts in the blink of an eye.

Active in local government, Virgil has also been a leader in developing projects that improve his community, projects involving a local nursing home, a veterans’ memorial, and American Legion Hall, and a local school district.


John Hill

John Hill

Hill, John R.
Inducted: 2014
Lester Building Systems, LLC – Lester Prairie, Minnesota

John Hill began his career in the accounting division at Butler Manufacturing in 1980. He gravitated towards Butler’s post-frame division upon acquisition of Lester’s of Minnesota Inc., the predecessor of Lester Building Systems. Hill worked up through various phases of management, and was promoted from Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing to President of Lester Building Systems in 2000.

Hill led a management buyout of the Lester business from Butler Manufacturing Company in July 2004. Lester Building Systems, LLC is an active member of the National Frame Building Association, where Hill has played an active role since 2004. He served as Chairman of the organization’s Board of Directors from 2010 through 2011.


Paul Hinshaw

Paul Hinshaw

Hinshaw, Paul
Inducted: 1995
BBL Building & Components – Perryville, Missouri

An early force in the National Frame Builders Association, Paul served two years on the association’s first board of directors.

In a career that has covered more than four decades, he has helped build four post-frame construction businesses, beginning with his brother’s company which signed on with Doane’s Agricultural Service in the early 1950’s. Later he helped start what became Huskee-Bilt, helped establish operations in four states for Wickes Lumber, and finally his own company, BBL Buildings & Components.

Today the company makes its own trusses, which it markets to other contractors and lumber yards. It designed and produces a custom home package and keeps six people busy selling and five crews erecting structures within an 80-mile radius of Perryville.


Steve Hoff

Steve Hoff

Hoff, Steve
Inducted: 2007
Iowa State University

A professor at Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, Steve has made a tremendous impact in the building industry in two main efforts: educating students and assisting builders with siting for new construction.

He teaches wood structural design and ventilation design courses, and his students go on to be professionals in the building industry, allied industr4ies and consulting firms.

Steve has helped organize and participated in builder workshops, advising them on ventilation, state regulations and siting. His work with siting models has helped swine buildings be sited in more suitable locations, minimizing controversy and avoiding situations where builders could face lawsuits.


Brian Holmes

Brian Holmes

Holmes, Brian
Inducted: 1990
University of Wisconsin – Madison, Wisconsin

As a university agricultural engineer, Brian has been instrumental in development of the Wisconsin Frame Builders Association and has helped them benefit a great deal from University support.

He has also done some of the country’s leading work on design of dairy heifer housing facilities and has helped a number of rural builders work out design needs for dairy housing complexes. He has special expertise in the ventilation area.



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