Honored for excelling at a job that demands long hours and deep commitment, four finalists have been named in the AGCO Application Equipment 2013 Operator of the Year program. Now in its eighth year, this program recognizes North America’s top professional applicators for their overall skill and dedication to their profession, as well as their contributions to their retail organizations and service to their local communities.
The four finalists were selected by an AGCO panel of judges and will attend the 2013 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference & Expo Dec. 3-5 in Miami, Fla. There, the 2013 Operator of the Year winner will be announced and presented with a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. All nominees for Operator of the Year will receive a certificate of recognition.
“The Operator of the Year program is designed to recognize the vital contributions made by these dedicated professionals, on and off the field,” said Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for AGCO Application Equipment. “They not only spend long hours in the field every season, but they also are highly skilled at using the latest advances in precision application technology to help farmers maximize their crop yield.”
This year’s finalists, nominated by their managers, are:
Ben Hayes, Crop Production Services, Lanark, Ill. – Besides being regarded as an exceptional operator, Hayes also is in charge of daily operations, provides employee training and serves as safety coordinator at his location. “There are certain customers who buy inputs solely on the fact that they know Ben will be doing the custom application on their farms, which says a lot for him as an operator,” said Jon Meade, facility manager of Crop Production Services.
“It was pretty exciting and really leaves me speechless,” said Hayes, who has served the past five years with Crop Production Services, applying 30,000 acres per year. “It definitely means a lot, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be a finalist.”
Tony Randolph, Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Farmville, N.C. – Relationship-building and attention to even the smallest of details are attributes that set Randolph apart as he applies 25,000 acres each growing season. “Tony is wholly committed to his career,” said Terry McMahon, manager of corporate communications for Southern States Cooperative, based in Richmond, Va. “He takes the time to talk to each of his customers, finds out where the challenges are in each field and makes the extra effort to identify and take care of any trouble spots that may be in the field.”
“I was super-excited to hear about it,” said Randolph, who has served the past seven years with Southern States Cooperative’s regional agronomy center in Farmville, N.C. “When I come to work, every day is a new challenge. To be recognized for hard work is amazing. It really humbles me.”
Randy Bauwens, Town and Country Supply Association, Edgar, Mont. – A 10-year application veteran, Bauwens covers more than 44,000 acres from the Canadian border into Wyoming each year. “There isn’t terrain Randy hasn’t seen, weather he hasn’t raced and a grower he hasn’t impressed with his exceptional service and abilities,” said David Sieler, Town and Country Supply Association agronomist. “He is truly a driving force for ag success in our area.”
“I was shocked, since I never thought a small area like ours would have an Operator of the Year finalist,” said Bauwens. “I really enjoy spreading fertilizer, so it’s a real honor, no doubt about it.”
Tom Leuthardt, New Horizons CHS Service Center, Chokio, Minn. – With 34 years of application experience and over 43,000 acres applied this year, Leuthardt consistently delivers outstanding customer service. “Tom goes the extra mile to get the job done,” said Judson Moore, sales manager of New Horizons CHS Customer Service Center. “He always wants to be the first one in the field in the morning and the last one back to base that night. Tom takes great pride in the equipment he runs.”
“I’m very proud to be selected,” Leuthardt said, “but it wouldn’t have been possible without the excellent team I work with, including the drivers, sales group and managers. They all make me look good and were part of it.”
Besides demonstrating their commitment in the field, all four finalists have an impressive record of community service. Hayes recently used his sprayer system expertise to assist the local fire department in obtaining the most efficient plumbing system on its equipment. Randolph is president of a local motorcycle club that has organized a number of rides to benefit various charitable causes. Bauwens has served with the Edgar Volunteer Fire Department for more than 20 years and also has supported its annual fundraiser by spreading Town and Country Supply’s 200 acres of donated application each year. Leuthardt served as a volunteer firefighter in his community for 20 years and helps the city and town residents with snow removal when needed.
AGCO manufactures the lineup of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator self-propelled high-floatation applicators. The Operator of the Year program is open to all ag retailers and professional applicators in North America regardless of the machine brands in their application fleet. For more information, visit http://www.applylikeapro.com/.