We are comprised of passionate, hard-working leaders.
Founder & CEO
As young entrepreneurs, Tony and his wife Jennifer opened their first retail furniture business some 35+ years ago. This was the beginning of a successful career in the furniture industry. In the early 1990’s, joining up with two businessmen, he started a furniture manufacturing company where he served as the VP of sales and marketing, as well product development. After selling their manufacturing company, Tony and Jennifer purchased a small retail furniture company and within a very short period of time, turned it into a multi-million dollar business.
In 2005, they purchased a small farm on the South Dakota-Iowa border, that they eventually were planning on retiring to. After some research, Tony planted an organic apple orchard along with many other fruits and vegetables for personal use and to share with family, friends and the community. He then decided to exit the furniture industry and work full time on his new found passion. As the farm began growing some awesome fruits and vegetables he began looking for other options to add to his farm.
In late summer of 2007, he learned about the aronia berry, and after several months of research, jumped in with both feet and planted the rest of his farm to aronia berries. Then in 2012, he and another grower started Akron Apple & Aronia, Inc. This company was started in order to develop and manufacture apple and aronia berry products under the trademark name Akronia Valley®. Soon it became evident that the fruit from his farm alone would not be enough to supply the US population.
In 2011, under his leadership, he brought together other aronia berry farmers and began a dialogue with them focusing on how to get this marvelous fruit to market. Over the next 4 years, his vision and passion for the aronia berry industry was shared with many farmers and came to fruition. In 2015 he formed the National Aronia Growers with two other aronia berry farmers. 50 growers attended their first meeting. In November of 2016, nearly 200 growers attended the annual National Aronia Growers conference held in Omaha, NE. These growers encompassed 10 states and Canada.
With the aronia berry supply increasing, and an ever pressing need to tell others about this superfruit, Tony met with leaders in the network marketing industry, The Sheffield Group and Babener Law Firm. Both of these firms are lead consultants to the social selling/ network marketing industry. After their review of the science and products Tony had developed, they both encouraged him to launch a new company under the network marketing business model. After several months of consulting with both of these firms and other aronia berry farmers, a new company was born called Lifebrook.
Because of his rock solid values in business, personal experiences working with all types of people, leadership and organizational skills, and his ability to bring the right people together at the right time, these core values and experiences will help insure the success of Lifebrook’s advocates and business partners, and Lifebrook as a company. It is this type of company people want to be a part of.
On the more personal side of things, Tony likes to fish and golf once in a while. He loves his dogs, Ponch, Cagney, Taylor and Peanut, who follow him wherever he goes on the farm. He is active in his church, serving two terms as President and several years on the board of elders. You might even hear a sermon or two when he fills in for his pastor. Tony’s wife, Jennifer, is his sweetheart for life. When not at work in the fields or in the office, you’ll find them rocking in their weather worn rocking chairs on the front porch of their home in the beautiful Loess Hills of South Dakota.
Wife, mom, grandma, sister, church organist & pianist, choir director and cheerleader for the aronia berry. She enjoys living on the farm, reminiscent of her years growing up, surrounded by God’s beauty and abundance of apples, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apricots and aronia berries! Her two favorite chairs found at the farm – the lawn mower, and her rocking chair on the front porch. Both provide time for reflection.
When not enjoying all the above, Jennifer is found at the Lifebrook office, the “behind the scenes” worker, and “glue to the team”. Customer service, human resources, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable are a few of the real-life experiences she has received from her 30 plus years of administrative and managerial positions in the long-term care setting and in Higher Education foodservice.
Director of Operations
Katie Morgan-Heisterkamp comes to Lifebrook with 10 years of experience in Customer Service and Operations Management. She has earned her Bachelors of Business Administration in Business Technology and an Associates of Science in Business Management from Dakota State University in Madison, SD.
Katie manages day-to-day operations at the corporate headquarters in Vermillion, SD. She is responsible for the performance of Customer Service, Product fulfillment and Information Technology.
Katie resides in South Dakota with her family. In their free time they enjoy traveling, going hiking, kayaking, playing board games and video games!