Day two of ag retailer conference brings new insights
Day two of the Agricultural Retailers Association annual conference and expo offered a variety of speakers from differing backgrounds to offer attendees new insights and perspectives that could help them in their businesses.
Kicking off general session, Daren Coppock, president and CEO of ARA, welcomed attendees to this year’s conference, titled “Ag Retail Top Guns: Preparing your business for the future.” He introduced the first speaker Carl Casale, president and CEO of CHS. Casale’s presentation, “Navigating a Dynamic World” highlighted variable influences impacting ag retail businesses. These influences included the impact of China on food, feed and fuel demands. He discussed world demand for grain products and pointed out where shifts in demand and production are anticipated to be in the next decade. Casale’s key point was in asking retailers how they remain relevant to their customers. He provided the example of K-Mart. Nearly everyone in the room recognizes the brand, but a small fraction had actually shopped at the store within the past six months. He stressed that retailers need to find out how to be relevant to their customers to succeed in building their business.
Following Casale was Charlie Stenholm, former Texas Congressman and Senior Policy Advisor with OFW Law, who offered his “Post-Election Analysis and the Impact on Agriculture” presentation. Stenholm started off saying that the country’s two-party political system may split into a three or four party system as factions within both the Democrat and Republican parties that may want to leave their original party. Stenholm stressed that both parties seem to be ignoring the big problems, but eventually they will have to sit down and learn how to compromise. He also drew parallels between the agriculture industry and the oil and gas industry. He said both are intrinsically linked. They both need each other. Other topics he touched on included biotechnology, immigration and cooperating more fully for mutual benefit with Canada and Mexico.
ARA’s Coppock provided a look at the accomplishments ARA had achieved within the past year. The biggest achievement was the Hours of Service legislation. He outlined the key topics and strategies ARA is working on, with a strong emphasis on member services.
Awards were also a big part of the day’s events as awards were given for the ARA Retailer of the Year, the AGCO Operator of the Year, the ARA Distinguished Service Award and the ARA Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award.