Recognized for his strong dedication to his profession, his customers and his community, North Carolina custom applicator Tony Randolph has been named AGCO Application Equipment’s 2013 Operator of the Year. His selection was announced during the 2013 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference & Expo in Miami.

The Operator of the Year program, now in its eighth year, is conducted by AGCO Application Equipment to pay tribute to North America’s top professional applicators for excelling at a demanding job that requires a high degree of skill and long hours in the field each season while applying fertilizer and crop protection products to maximize crop production.

Randolph has served the past seven years as a professional operator with Southern States Cooperative, Inc., in Farmville, N.C., applying 25,000 acres of crops each year, including corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, potatoes and several vegetable varieties. “I was overwhelmed, words can’t describe it,” said Randolph, who received a new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle as his prize. “It humbles me to win and feels good to know that hard work does pay off.”

Randolph was honored for relationship-building skills with his farmer customers and attention to even the smallest of details in understanding the challenges of their fields and taking care of any trouble spots.  He has also invited customers to ride in his cab so he can explain the operation of his application machine. Described as wholly committed to his career, in 2012 he was presented the President’s Award for Outstanding Customer Service by Southern States Cooperative.

“All four finalists have impressive credentials, and each is deserving of this award,” said Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for AGCO Application Equipment, in presenting the award. “But the passion and dedication shown by Tony earned him the distinction of being 2013 Operator of the Year.  He shows tremendous pride in his work, has a great relationship with his customers and does whatever it takes to make sure the job gets done.”

Agri-retailers from throughout the U.S. and Canada can nominate their custom applicators for the award. A panel of AGCO judges selects four finalists, based on their overall professionalism, as well as their contributions to their retail organizations and service to their local communities. 

When he isn’t busy in the field, Randolph is president of a local motorcycle club that has organized a number of rides to benefit various charitable causes. The club hosts bingo games at local senior facilities, delivers holiday turkeys to seniors on fixed incomes, adopts underprivileged families at Christmas and sponsors a backpack giveaway for kids.

The other three finalists attending the ARA Conference as AGCO guests were Ben Hayes of Crop Production Services in Lanark, Ill.; Randy Bauwens of Town and Country Supply Association in Edgar, Mont.; and Tom Leuthardt of New Horizons CHS Service Center in Chokio, Minn. All nominees for the prestigious award receive a certificate of recognition.