ARA Awards: ARA honors the industry’s finest
At the 2012 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) annual conference and expo, the ag retail industry celebrated the achievements of many in the industry and recognized them with specialized awards.
ARA honored Wheat Growers, a cooperative with headquarters in Aberdeen, S.D., as the 2012 Ag Retailer of the Year at the conference. The award is sponsored by Monsanto, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, and is recognized as a symbol of the very best in the industry." Dale Locken, Wheat Growers’ CEO, accepted the award.
Wheat Growers has more than 600 employees working at 37 different locations in South Dakota and North Dakota, providing service to more than 5,500 member-owners in a 50-county area.
"This is an award earned by our employee team," Locken said. "Our employees work extremely hard every day to meet and exceed our customers' expectations. The ARA Retailer of the Year award recognizes their aspiration to provide superior service for our customers with safety and profitability in mind."
[Left] Billy Pirkle, 2012 ARA board chair, presented [right] Ken Manning, senior vice president of Northwest operations for the agribusiness division of Wilbur-Ellis, with the Distinguished Service Award. ARA also recognized Ken Manning, senior vice president of Northwest operations for the agribusiness division of Wilbur-Ellis, with the Distinguished Service Award. This ARA award honors an individual member of the association who has gone above and beyond the traditional responsibility to support the ag retail industry and the association, making the industry better for all.
Manning served as ARA’s chairman in 2009 and was an active ARA board member serving on several committees from 2002 to 2011. His leadership and expertise helped the organization reach many public policy achievements and led to the development of other services for ARA members.
Manning was board chairman when the previous ARA President and CEO Jack Eberspacher passed away. He led the organization through the challenging months after and helped the association find new leadership.
Outgoing Board Chairman, Billy Pirkle presented Jim Thrift with the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award. Thrift is ARA’s former vice president of regulatory affairs and corporate relations.
Thrift officially retired from ARA in the summer of 2012 after serving ARA for nine years. While working for ARA, Thrift used his more than 40 years of agriculture industry experience to assist ARA members with specific business and regulatory challenges.