Day two of ag retailer conference brings new insights
The 2012 Retailer of the Year Award was presented to Dale Locken, CEO of South Dakota Wheat Growers Association. The AGCO Operator of the Year was presented to Glen Slabaugh, Clunette Elevator Company, Inc., Leesburg, Ind. Ken Manning received the ARA Distinguished Service Award and Jim Thrift received ARA’s Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award.
Finishing off the morning segment, John Foley, a former Blue Angel, spoke to attendees about “Strategies for Successful Plan Execution.” Foley shared his experiences as a Blue Angel and explained how the job demanded many qualities that retailers could expand within their own businesses. Key points included working closely with a team, building trust, debriefing to gain knowledge, and striving to be the best. His key motto was “Glad to be here.” He reminded retailers to always be grateful for the success they have.
After lunch, ARA featured two breakout sessions. One session was titled “Developing Your Flight Crew” by Karen Grabow from Land O’Lakes. She explained how to recruit and retain good employees and how to develop the next generation of leaders. She highlighted the different stages of human resource development and how HR’s role has been shifting over time. She provided multiple research data from cooperatives, independents and public retailer companies, providing their strengths and weaknesses and blindspots. She had the attendees participate in discussing strategies, pitfalls and ways to improve employee’s accountability. She stressed the need for companies to develop an accountability culture to foster better communication and to solve problems quicker.
Bill Keogh, AgKnowlogy, during the other breakout session talked about “how do we achieve sustainable growth” by an ag retailer. His point was to understand the customer and do what will build on customer satisfaction. “We know a lot more about the acre than the man,” he said referring to farmers and their land. There is huge focus on being technical in this ag of precision ag rather than understanding the customer more deeply.
Companies have to have a strategic focus to visualize how service is delivered now and look at what the customer is doing that the ag retailer could support. There has to be a key customer account plan, Keogh said. Share of business is driven by customer experience. “Share of business is a report card on how well you meet needs,” he added.
Also during this session, the R-7 Tool precision data tool from Winfield Solutions was explained. This was a complete switch from the man to the acre topic in the afternoon. The R-7 refers to explaining the value and use of data about right genetics, right soil type, right plant population, right cropping system, right traits, right plant nutrition and right crop production.
The R-7 Tool takes Answer Plots data and cuts, slices and dices it for use by ag retail agronomists salespersons and farmers. Additional data such as soil maps, yield maps and satellite imagery are added into the tool.