John Strohmeyer

Juggling acts

Being a juggler takes skill. It requires the ability to focus on multiple things at the same time, flexibility when the unexpected happens, patience, and an aptitude for learning in the first place. Although he probably wouldn’t admit it, John Strohmeyer, a technical analyst at Grinnell Mutual is gifted with all the above.

He first got the juggling bug in 1986 when his Ames roommate offered to teach him. Strohmeyer remembers thinking, “No way will I ever be able to learn to do that.” After a 15-minute lesson with three oranges, he had the basics down.

Later, at a university event, Strohmeyer saw someone juggling clubs. “Now that I could never do,” he thought. But it only took him about half an hour with some instruction before he could awkwardly throw and catch clubs, too. He practiced for a few minutes every evening, and before long he was juggling torches and swords.

Juggling his free time

Strohmeyer loves to perform, and among his occasional juggling spots is Lauridsen Skatepark in Des Moines, Iowa, where Strohmeyer hangs out with his daughter, one of six Strohmeyer children, while she skates. The children range in age from 14 to 26. Five of the six can juggle.

On weekends, if Strohmeyer’s not spending time with his kids, he’s outside staying active. He likes any sport that requires a paddle or racquet, including tennis, racquetball, ping pong, and pickleball; he’s also into anything with wheels — bicycling and rollerblading, and his favorite, a three-wheel motorcycle.

Juggling his work skills

The path of John’s career mirrors his foray into juggling: trepidation, followed by a willingness to learn, followed by proficiency.

Before 2000, Strohmeyer worked at what he describes as a “nowhere job” installing cable television. His pastor suggested he look into a job providing computer support to small central Iowa cities. Strohmeyer blew off the suggestion twice. “Thank God [my pastor] approached me a third time and talked me into it,” John said.

After interviewing Strohmeyer, the business owner hired him on the spot.

There was a steep learning curve. “I’ve always been a tinkerer and have wanted to know how things worked, but I had no computer experience whatsoever. In the three years I worked for him he gave me a skill set that I didn’t have. It was all on-the-job training.”

Strohmeyer eventually landed at Grinnell Mutual. Twenty years later, he handles laptop replacements, transitions to new devices, upgrades, new employee setups, and in-house transfers. He also helps solve problem tickets that come in daily.

Strohmeyer said he loves working for Grinnell Mutual and admires the company for being ethical and honest, for making the right, tough decisions, for treating its employees well, and for its transparency.

When asked whether his job demands large doses of patience, Strohmeyer says, “There are people in this company who’ve been alongside me for some of the darkest times in life and helped and supported me. So, my attitude is — just like if you were a family member with a computer problem — it’s the least I can do to help you.”