Morral Companies was named the Agricultural Retailers Association Retailer of the Year for 2013. The award was presented to Morral Sales Manager Lee Sundermeier at the ARA Annual Conference.
"We are truly honored by this recognition," he said.
Innovation, quality and service have been founding principles of the organization, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
"We always say we're leading the way with quality," said Chief Executive Officer Daryl Gates. "We've got a lot of young guys in our retail side of our business that are really good with technology, and that's really helped bring the farmer from where he was 50 years ago to where we are today."
Morral Companies, a family-owned business based in Morral, Ohio, has been a leader and innovator in many facets of agriculture: fluid fertilizer, crop production, and environmental stewardship.
"Ag retailers make significant contributions to feeding the world and responsible stewardship of our natural resources," said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. "Morral is a great representative of the industry and deserving of this award."
In addition to retail operations serving farmers, Morral Companies offers manufacturing, packaging and wholesale distribution of a wide range of agriculture products. Morral was one of the first, and now one of the country's largest, formulators and manufacturers of liquid fertilizer serving farmers and professionals in the agricultural and lawn/garden industries. In addition, the company formulates and packages a wide assortment of liquid and dry products.
"They often share ideas and mentor our organization," said William F. Willard of Willard Agri-Services, who nominated Morral for the award. "I can't think of any other company in the United States that would be more worthy of receiving the Retailer of the Year Award," he added.
Recently, Morral has distinguished itself through its nutrient stewardship efforts. Morral actively promotes The Fertilizer Institute's 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program, which provides a framework to achieve cropping system goals, increased production, increased farmer profitability, enhanced environmental protection and improved sustainability.
"Morral cares about doing the right thing for agriculture and the people of Ohio," said David T. Daniels, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. "Through Morral's efforts, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship effort is helping to increase adoption of fertilizer best management practices - addressing the right nutrient source at the right rate, the right time and in the right place. Morral's endorsement of this concept has helped spread the word about the importance of adopting these practices, and has fostered support in the farming community."
Morral's efforts as part of the 4R program - including a supporting certification program, training custom applicators, educating growers and participating in water quality working groups - have contributed to cleaner water, fewer algal blooms and reduced phosphorus loads in Lake Erie and the regional watershed.
"We believe we can accomplish maximum economic yield with minimum environmental impact, and we can do our share to clean up the lake," said Sales Specialist John Oster. "There are many issues going on in that lake (Erie), but agriculture does take responsibility, and this is the way (Morral has) decided to go."
Watershed stakeholders in government and the general public have taken note of Morral's efforts and commitment.
"They have shown great courage by offering to pilot test the certification standard on their own operations," said Bill Stanley, Ohio Assistant State Director of The Nature Conservancy. "The Morral Company is an integral partner in our efforts to improve water quality while maintaining agricultural productivity. We appreciate their candor, progressive viewpoints and hospitality."