Face Behind the Fertilizer: Laura Neel

Laura Neel joined KF as the first woman on her team and in KF Enid’s maintenance department.
Posted on Monday, March 8, 2021
The first woman on her team and in Koch Fertilizer (KF) Enid’s maintenance department, Laura joined KF in 2017 as an electrical technician with 10 years of electrical field experience.  

Today, Laura is an electrical specialist. She captures information for electrical systems, plans work orders, creates maintenance reporting routes for the team and develops preventative maintenance programs.  

Laura appreciates that she’s challenged every day to find better ways to do things to make the lives of maintenance technicians and operators easier. 

“The most exciting part of my job is knowing the work I am doing will help the electrical team and those on the team in the future,” she said. “Several of the systems I have created make the day-to-day work of the electrical team more efficient. These programs reduce the time projects take and allow them to focus on other ways to create value.” 

Exploring Manufacturing 
Manufacturing wasn’t Laura’s initial goal. Her stepfather, an electrician, shared some information with her about electrical apprenticeships. She thought it would be an exciting field and liked the idea of combining her interest in mathematics with working with her hands.  

Through her apprenticeship, Laura learned the skills needed to work in the electrical field but said working on the family farm taught her considerably more about troubleshooting and thinking outside the box. 

Laura believes women in the trades bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Women tend to look at problems and opportunities slightly differently.  

“I would like to think the work I am doing will set an example for what is good in our industry from utilizing technology to reduce mountains of paperwork to having a central location with accurate data for finding parts or inventories for repairs,” Laura said.  

Laura finds this field of work very rewarding and fulfilling especially because she can look back on her day and see what she accomplished. She also appreciates safety is a priority at KF — it’s not just something that is talked about, it is something that is practiced.  

Her advice for others in the field is to make sure you know the safest way to perform your work and don’t let anyone convince you it is worth the risk to do otherwise.  

Family Traditions 
Family is incredibly important to Laura. Though she doesn’t have any biological children, she and her husband have been fortunate to raise more than 15 kids, who came to them through different avenues — stepchildren, guardianships, foreign exchange students or anyone in need of a safe home. Laura loves getting to spend time with her family and investing time in the children who come stay with her. She also is an active member of her church and volunteers with the youth program.  

Additionally, Laura is actively involved with her family farm where they raise a variety of crops and livestock. She also lives on a farm purchased by her grandfather.