Play Like a Champion: Winning Strategies for Ag Retail


The 2013 ARA Conference & Expo, Play Like A Champion: Winning Strategies for Ag Retail, provided attendees a place to meet, network and learn practical ideas and management solutions to improve their businesses.

Attendees also had the opportunity to attend several special events including the ARAPAC Golf Tournament on the legendary Great White Course at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa and the "Havana Nights" themed ARA Annual Dinner & Auction. Proceeds from both events benefit ARA’s Political Action Committee (ARAPAC).

Topics at this year’s conference included important information on the agricultural industry’s current state and future trends, leadership, employee development and innovative technology.

Awards and Recognition

Retailer of the Year

Morral Companies received the 2013 ARA Retailer of the Year Award. Located in Morral and Caledonia, Ohio, Morral Companies has been a leader in the ag retail business since 1963.

Morral was one of the first liquid fertilizer companies in the United States. Since then the organization has expanded into dry fertilizer, turf and lawn care, ice melt and diesel engine additives. Morral has thrived by delivering excellent service to the regional farming community, as well as growing into new markets and applying new technology.

The award, presented by Monsanto Company, ARA and AgProfessional magazine, recognizes the very best in the industry. Lee Sundermeier, sales manager, accepted the award from Jon Nienas of Monsanto.

Jack Eberspacher Award

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recognized Ford B. West, former President of The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), with its Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award. ARA President and Chief Executive Officer Daren Coppock presented the award to Mr. West during the association's Annual Conference on Wednesday, December 4. 
The award is ARA’s highest individual honor, designed to recognize career-spanning achievements in and contributions to the agricultural retail industry. Established in 2001, the award was named after the late Jack Eberspacher who served as ARA President and Chief Executive Officer from 2001 until his death in 2009.  

Distinguished Service Award

Rod Schroeder, recently retired from WinField Solutions, was recognized today with the Agricultural Retailers Association Distinguished Service Award. Schroeder is a former ARA board member and long-time supporter of the association. He was specifically recognized for his assistance in bringing significant new members into the ARA fold.

The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone beyond the traditional member and volunteer responsibilities to support the agricultural retail industry and the association – making the industry better for all. Selected by the ARA Executive Committee, the designee may come from any of the membership categories in ARA: retailer, distributor or manufacturer of equipment, chemicals and fertilizer.

AgGateway and ARA Technology Award

A.J. Sackett & Sons took home honors for its H.I.M. mixer in the second year of the AgGateway and ARA Technology Award.

ARA members were invited to submit nominations for a new technology to be featured during a breakout session at the annual conference. Participants then voted at for the winner. Attendees chose between A.J. Sackett & Sons’ H.I.M. mixer and Agrium Advanced Technologies’ ESN product.

A.J. Sackett's H.I.M. mixer features two counter-rotating paddles with fluidized movement and a tight turn tolerance so there are no dead zones in the mixer where product can get stuck. 

Rising Stars Recognized

New to this year’s conference was the Rising Stars program. Member companies nominated high achievers and future leaders to attend the ARA conference, network and learn.

Recipients included: Steve Fairchild (pictured, left), editor, Today’s Farmer; Brock Frasch, seed division manager, Ceres Solutions; Dave Hammond, manger of IT and company-wide technology, AgVentures, LLC; Justin Hitchmough, electrical and information systems, Yargus Manufacturing Inc.; Patrick Hoehn, crop advisor, Simplot Grower Solutions; Clint Matthews, seed coordinator, South Dakota Wheat Growers; Ryan Van Eps, crop advisor, Simplot Grower Solutions; and Gene Vernon, area manager, Simplot Grower Solutions.

Farrell Installed as Board Chairman

Gary Farrell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ag Enterprise Supply in Cheney, Wash., was installed as the 2014 Chairman of the Board for ARA on December 5, during the Annual Conference in 
Doral, Fla. He succeeds 2013 Chairman Johnny Council of the Tremont Group. 
Mr. Farrell has served on the ARA board of directors since 2006, chairing the Public Policy committee in 2011 and 2012. During the last year he has served as Chairman-elect.

Speakers and Presentations

Joseph DeLorenzo, FMCSA  FMCSA Update

Joseph DeLorenzo
, Director, Office of Enforcement and Compliance
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

DeLorenzo presented an update on FMCSA to annual conference attendees on Dec. 3. He addressed several issues including SMS enhancements, HMSP report, online URS registrations and eventual linkage of the medical certification and the National Registry.
Bill Whitacre, JR Simplot Months to Minutes: The Impact of Technology on Modern Agriculture

Bill Whitacre, President & CEO 
J.R. Simplot Company

Whitacre provides a global perspective on the state of the agriculture industry in this presentation delivered at ARA Annual Conference, December 3, 2013, at the Trump National Doral Resort and Spa. Whitacre noted five key global accelerators for agriculture: Growing global population, production efficiency, precision agriculture, big data and GMOs. "Technology is changing things rapidly," Whitacre said. "(Ag retailers) have to move faster; with a sense of urgency."
DSC_0170.JPG Becoming a Destination Employer

Mike Smith, President & CEO
Mark Waschek, VP Agronomy

At a destination employer the current employees refer to you as the best place to work, the marketplace sees your organization as a great place to establish a career and future employees see your company as the ultimate career destination. You get there by retaining the best employees, creating a strong brand, developing exceptional communications and marketing, striving for a culture built for, by, and of employees. When this happens talent will come to you for opportunities.
DSC_0183.JPG Fertilizer Price Volatility: Are China and the Weather Really to Blame?

Stephen Mitchell
Lauren Williamson
Argus FMB

Argus FMB experts breakdown trends impacting the fertilizer industry and provide an outlook for nitrogen over the next three to five years. Key takeaways include domestic volatility of fertilizer prices continue to be impacted by policy and crop decisions, the U.S. is positioned to drive down prices with increased capacity; farmers will benefit from lower-cost nitrogen.
IMG_2484.JPG Ag Retail Outlook to 2025

Dr. Allan Gray, Land 'O Lakes Chair of Agribusiness
Purdue University

Growth is an imperative for any successful business, including ag retail. Gray sees the likelihood of consolidation among retailers as economic adjustment (acceleration or decline) takes place. Technology – both physical and digital – will play a significant role in enabling growth and consolidation. Suppliers that are efficient, he said, have access to technology, and have insightful human capital are most likely to thrive.

Golf Tournament

One of the highlights of every ARA conference and expo is the golf tournament and 2013 was no exception. The tournament was so popular this year, with more than 150 golfers participating, ARA expanded to two courses at the Trump National Doral Resort. Golfers played The Great White Course and the Gold Course. 

Doral’s Great White Course is a Greg Norman Signature Course. It played host to the PGA Tour’s Franklin Templeton Shoot-Out in 2000. The 7,171-yard, par-72 course was also rated as the best new golf course of 2000 by the National Golf Foundation.

First Place Team:
Paul Edsten, DuPont Company; Gene Vernon, J.R. Simplot Company; William Kuckuck, CropLife America; and Bret Horner, DuPont Company.

Second Place Team:
Chris Simoni, J.R. Simplot Company; Mark Auchampach, J.R. Simplot Company; Dean Miller, Big Valley Ag. Products, Inc.; and Bob Higby, Integrated Agribusiness Professionals.

Third Place Team:
Bob Dude, Winfield Solutions; Mark Helt, Monsanto Company; Steve Briggs, South Dakota Wheat Growers; and Jon Nienas, Monsanto Company.

Individual Awards:
White Course Closest to the Hole #6: Curt Harbach, HarBrand.
White Course Closest to the Hole #16: Kent McPherson, GreenPoint Ag.
Gold Course Closest to the Hole #7: Matt Harrelson, Oxbow Fertilizer, LLC.
Gold Course Closest to the Hole #12: Josh Miller, River Bend Ag, LLC.
White Course Longest Drive Hole #12: David Stepp, Union Bank.
Gold Course Longest Drive Hole #16: Matt Harrelson, Oxbow Fertilizer, LLC.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the ARA Political Action Committee, which provides support to candidates who seek to advance the interests of agricultural retailers.

  El Dorado Chemical  
  BMO Harris