The ag retail industry celebrated its own achievements and milestones at the 2013 Agricultural Retailers Association annual conference and expo with special awards.

Morral Companies received the prestigious 2013 ARA Retailer of the Year Award. Morral Companies is located in Morral and Caledonia, Ohio. This award was presented by Monsanto Company, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, and it is a recognized symbol of the very best in the industry. Lee Sundermeier, sales manager, accepted the award. This company was founded in 1963 as a family business serving the local farm community and was one of the first liquid fertilizer companies in the United States.

ARA honors the best of the retailer industry

ARA honors the best of the retailer industry

Also honored this year was Ford West, former president of The Fertilizer Institute. He received the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is ARA's highest individual honor, designed to recognize career-spanning achievements in and contributions to the agricultural retail industry. It was named after Jack Eberspacher, who served as ARA president and chief executive officer from 2001 until his death in 2009.

ARA honors the best of the retailer industry


The ARA Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rod Schroeder, who is retired from WinField Solutions. This award is presented to an individual member of the association who has gone above and beyond the traditional responsibility to support the ag retail industry and ARA.

Also this year, two ARA staff received service awards. Kelly Jones, ARA’s office administrator and associate director of membership, earned one of the awards for his five years of service to ARA. Richard Gupton, ARA’s senior vice president, public policy and counsel, also received an award for his 10 years of service with ARA.

In the second year for the AgGateway and ARA Technology Award, A.J. Sackett & Sons won the award based on voting conducted during the breakout session on Dec. 5 for its H.I.M. mixer. All ARA members were invited earlier in the year to submit nominations for a new technology to be featured during a breakout session. The membership then voted at ARA’s conference for the winner. Attendees could choose between A.J. Sackett & Sons’ H.I.M. mixer and Agrium Advanced Technologies’ ESN product.

New to this year’s awards was the Rising Stars program. Recipients were nominated by member companies that provided information on these high achievers and future leaders. The recipients were: Steve Fairchild, editor, Today’s Farmer; Brock Frasch, seed division manager, Ceres Solutions; Dave Hammond, manger of IT and company-wide technology, AgVentures, LLC; Justin Hitchmough, electrical systems/information systems, Yargus Manufacturing Inc.; Patrick Hoehn, crop advisor, Simplot Grower Solutions; Clint Matthews, seed coordinator, South Dakota Wheat Growers; Ryan Van Eps, crop advisor III, Simplot Grower Solutions; and Gene Vernon, area manager, Simplot Grower Solutions.