The next time your bosses require a team-building exercise, suggest spending two months at sea.

Eric Riesberg, a credit underwriter with De Lage Landen Agricredit in Johnston, did just that. He returned to work Monday after competing in a series of sailing races from San Francisco through the Panama Canal and to New York City. It wasn’t vacation, and it was no pleasure cruise.

It should be noted that Riesberg, 34, is a farm boy from Carroll who had no previous sailing experience. That’s part of the point of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which trains amateurs for the ordeal.

His employer — which is part of the Dutch financial services provider Robobank Group — sponsors a yacht as a way to “grow into a globally networked organization.” DLL has 5,400 employees in 36 countries, with about 200 in Johnston.

Riesberg was nominated for the program, and then survived a vetting process to become one of only 17 DLL employees chosen globally. He was selected in part based on his ability “to play well with others,” he said.

Riesberg was the only American among 21 people on his leg of the trip, thrown together with others from Great Britain, Mexico, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Crew members included DLL employees and others — some sailing the entire eight-leg route around the globe.

The DLL clipper finished third out of 12 boats in New York on June 2. Another crew is now racing toward Ireland in the race’s final stage.

Riesberg attended three weeklong training sessions in England. But he said the most learning occurred in the day-in, day-out rigors of sailing.

Sailing is a 24-hour operation, with crew members helping navigate, watching for storms and other boats, pumping bilges, preparing ropes and trimming sails. “There’s not a lot of downtime,” Riesberg said.

Crew members worked in four- to six-hour shifts, grabbing sleep in between. Often, Riesberg would be awakened during his “off time” to help.

In his trip blog, he writes about the adrenaline rush of dodging flying fish, climbing the mast, and getting soaked as he changed the sail on the ship’s bow.

A storm blew up in the Pacific, and the wind pitched the craft so far over that the mast hit the water. Riesberg knew it was serious by watching the more experienced crew members: “You could see the fear in their eyes.”

So what does this have to do with working at an agribusiness credit firm? Riesberg learned that sailing requires preparation, similar to following protocol at work and preparing for customer calls. He experienced how to work in a “no blame culture,” which allows people to learn from mistakes and continually improve their skills. He saw the importance of communication in high-stress situations.

Riesberg is now sharing his experiences in presentations to his co-workers in Johnston. They got in the team-building action with a Build-A-Bike benefit this month for local chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Story County.

He returned to work Monday to supportive comments and questions from co-workers. “It’s been wonderful,” he said. “I feel like I was missed.”

And if he misses sailing? He’d like to use his newly acquired skills to pilot a dinghy in Iowa lakes.

Is Iowa bacon the best state food?

Iowa’s bacon is in the “Elite Eight” of the Tase of America online competition by CQ Roll Call, the political and business news source. Christopher Gannon/The Register
Christopher Gannon/The Register

Iowa is in the elite eight to determine the best state food. Our entry: Bacon. More specifically, bacon at Jethro’s restaurants.

CQ Roll Call, the political and business news source, has sponsored the “Taste of America” competition since 2011. The 2013 winner was West Virginia’s pepperoni roll.

This year, Iowa bacon defeated Wisconsin macaroni and cheese — 3,115 votes to 915 — to advance to the final round of eight. Iowa beat Ohio Buckeye candy and a Missouri ice cream cone a few weeks ago.

Iowa’s Midwest rival — deep dish pizza from Illinois — awaits. Others in the finals: Utah cherry cobbler, Oregon blackberry pie, Maine lobster roll, Maryland crab cakes, Kentucky fried chicken and North Carolina BBQ.

The National and Iowa restaurant associations nominated Jethro’s to represent the state food. Jethro’s owner Bruce Gerleman said the Des Moines-area chain put up its bacon-wrapped ribs.

And what beer goes best with bacon? A smoked porter, the National Beer Wholesalers Association recommends.

To vote, go to

Voting ends Friday at 5 p.m. Winners will be announced at the Congressional Baseball Game on June 25.

Also, watch for more Jethro’s news soon …

More restaurant news: Prairie Canary is in new hands.

A message posted on the restaurant’s website said Paul Durr of Grinnell had purchased the restaurant from Carly (Groben) Ross. Durr owned the Depot Crossing restaurant in Grinnell from 1998 to 2005.

Grinnell held a $40,000 contest in 2012 to attract a restaurant, and Ross won and opened Prairie Canary. She was a James Beard semifinalist while running Proof in Des Moines. She had her first child in April.


Bob Bridges, retired attorney at Whitfield & Eddy, turned 80 on Sunday. Artist Andy Davis, a Des Moines native headed to Southern Methodist grad school, turns 25 today. On Thursday, attorney Wade R. Hauser III of Ahlers & Cooney will be 64; Richard Reasons, a partner with CRG-Lee Hecht Harrison and a former DuPont executive, will turn 62; and KCCI news director Dave Busiek will be 60. Monday’s birthdays include Kevin Stetson, co-owner of Gramercy Tap, 51; Des Moines Arts Festival director Stephen King, 54; and Ken Fuson, Simpson College spokesman and former Register reporter, 58.