Conference to Feature Presentations on Leadership and Operations

Discover how the expansion of “China, Inc.,” and the intensive customer focus of Walt Disney World can positively influence your organizations’ competitiveness during the ARA Conference and Expo November 29 to December 1 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Get energized and engaged with inspirational lessons on leadership and insightful discussions on the future of ag retail with keynote presentations from Matthew Phillips, Director Crop Protection and Seeds for Phillips-McDougall and former Disney executive Lee Cockrell.

Conference attendees can dig deeper with two professional development tracks. One track, focused on executive leadership, will offer sessions on the economic outlook for fertilizer, innovative pricing models for agronomic services and the importance of public relations. The second track will feature sessions on operational management with speakers on recruiting and retention, compliance with federal regulations and optimizing operations through lean management.

Leveraging Biopesticides to Build Business for Ag Retailers

Pre-Conference Workshop

Tuesday, Nov. 29
3-4 p.m.
Bonnet Creek Ballroom - Salon XII
Sponsored by BPIA

With consumer demand for sustainable products at an all-time high and increasing regulatory pressure on conventional crop production products, the biopesticide segment has flourished with compound annual growth consistently in the mid-teens for several years, outpacing growth in other pesticide products.

So how do ag retailers respond to customer inquiries about biologicals? What is the best approach for product evaluation? How has the biopesticide segment evolved to improve product shelf life, availability, quality and field support? How can your ag retail business grow by gaining knowledge and expertise in this burgeoning category? Members of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance Board of Directors answer these questions and more in this special pre-conference educational session.

Keith Jones, Executive Director

Keith Jones is Executive Director of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance. Previously, Jones was executive director of a land trust focused on watershed protection and environmental stewardship. In the past, he has severed as general counsel to several organizations including a national trade association and one of the largest public water utility companies in the country. He has published several articles in various academic journals and speaks regularly across the country on a variety of topics. Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Rider University, a Juris Doctorate from the Temple University School of Law, and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tim Damico, Certis USA

Tim Damico is the Executive Vice President of Certis USA and an 18-year veteran of the company. He is responsible for guiding all of Certis' commercial activities in the NAFTA region. Damico previously has worked in sales, technical, international and managerial roles for Southern States Cooperative, Ciba-Geigy (currently Syngenta) and Great Salt Lake Minerals (now Compass Minerals) working with growers, ag retailers, distributors, and channel partners throughout the U.S. and other countries for more than 35 years.

Damico has been a BPIA member since 2006 and was elected to its Board of Directors in 2010. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticultural Science from Pennsylvania State University. Currently resides near Baltimore, Md., with his wife of 33 years.

Rick Melnick, Valent BioSciences Corporation

Rick Melnick is the Global Brand and Communications Manager for Valent BioSciences Corporation. He is responsible for communications and branding of Valent's crop protection, crop enhancement, public health and forest health efforts, as well as corporate branding responsibilities for Valent's parent company, Sumitomo Chemical Company. Melnick has worked in agriculture for more than 20 years including a distinguished career as the Corporate Editorial Director at Meister Media Worldwide (Fruit Grower, Vegetable Grower, Cotton Grower, Greenhouse Grower, CropLife) and Director of the company’s Crop Protection Handbook business.

After joining BPIA in 2005, he was elected to the BPIA Board of Directors in 2009. In 2013, Melnick was elected Chairman of the BPIA Board. He was instrumental launching in creating BioProtection Global in 2015, an international federation of biocontrol associations with representation from the U.S., E.U., Latin America, and South Africa. He will assume the role of BPG President in 2017.

Melnick is also a member of the SYSCO IPM Advisory Council and is a former agricultural ambassador for the MidAmerica CropLife Association. He helped launch North America's first-ever grower/consultant-facing Biocontrol Conference and Trade Show in 2015. Rick holds degrees from the University of North Texas and is a graduate of executive education courses at Stanford and the Kellogg School of Management.

Election Recap and Implications for Agribusiness

Stu Rothenberg

Stuart Rothenberg

Wednesday, Nov. 30
8:45 - 9:30 a.m.
Bonnet Creek Ballroom

Stuart Rothenberg, Founding Editor and Publisher of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, will discuss the outcomes of the 2016 election and the implications for the agribusiness industry.

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, a non-partisan political newsletter covering U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns, and presidential politics. He is also a national columnist for The Washington Post's Power Post and was a regular columnist for Roll Call newspaper for 24 years.

He holds a B.A. from Colby College and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Connecticut. He has taught at Bucknell University and at the Catholic University of America.

A frequent soundbite, Mr. Rothenberg has appeared on Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, The NewsHour, Nightline and many other television programs. He is often quoted in the nation’s major media, and his op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.

Rothenberg served as an election night analyst for the Newshour on PBS in the last four election cycles and for CBS News in 2006. Prior to that, he was an on-air political analyst for CNN for over a decade, including election nights from 1992 through 2004. He has also done on-air analysis for the Voice of America.

China, Inc.: Implications for Ag Retailers

Matthew Phillips

Opening Keynote Presentation

Wednesday, Nov. 30
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Bonnet Creek Ballroom

Matthew Phillips, a founding partner of Phillips-McDougall, will open the conference by examining the role China plays in the U.S. agricultural retail sector, and the implications for retailers and farmers as China invests in the agricultural industry globally.

Phillips, Director Crop Protection and Seeds, has more than 30 years of experience in analysis of agricultural input companies and markets. He holds a Ph.D. in animal biochemistry from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and before pursuing a career in industry analysis, he led a team that investigated the metabolic fate of agrochemicals and animal health products at both Inveresk Research and Schering Agrochemicals. From there he joined Wood Mackenzie. After ten years, having become a Senior Director, he left to set up Phillips-McDougall.

Phillips-McDougall, established in 1999, has become a leading independent consultancy providing analysis of global crop protection, seed and biotechnology industries. Analysis by Phillips-McDougall is regularly quoted by all the major agrochemical companies and investment banks. Phillips-McDougall also operates a global market research database, known as Amis Global.

In October 2013, Phillips-McDougall became part of the Informa Group.

You Can Create Disney Magic Too

Lee Cockrell

Closing Keynote Presentation

Thursday, Dec. 1
10 – 11:45 a.m.
Bonnet Creek Ballroom

Author, speaker and retired Disney executive Lee Cockerell will present the closing keynote focused on leadership and delivering world-class customer service.

In this deep-dive keynote, Cockerell will discuss what it looks like for small businesses and entrepreneurs to create magic. He says it’s easier than you think: have a great website, answer your phone, return calls and look professional are just some of the simple methods he offers to create magic.

For ten years Cockerell led a team of 73,000 Walt Disney World cast members whose daily challenge was to create magic for the millions of people who visited the parks and resorts. Cockerell will take the audience on a leadership adventure — not just in theory, but an actual real-life journey along which you will learn how to build a passionate team whose members believe: “It’s not the magic that makes it work; it’s the way we work that makes it magic.” 

He will deliver common sense lessons about making magic that you can translate into your own career, company culture, or vision for the future. Cockerell will show how, at Disney, leadership starts with respect for all people — Guests and Cast Members (not “employees”) alike.

Cockerell retired as Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World Resort. His responsibilities encompassed a diverse mix of operations, which included 20 resort hotels with over 24,000 Guest rooms, four theme parks, two water parks, five golf courses, shopping village and nighttime entertainment complex, sports and recreation complex, and the ancillary operations support functions.

He joined the Disney organization in 1990 as Director of Food and Beverage and Quality Assurance for the Disneyland Paris hotels. Before joining the Walt Disney World, he spent seventeen years in various executive positions with the Marriott Corporation and eight years with Hilton Hotels.

Cockerell has published three books on customer service, leadership and time management. He also developed an app, Creating Magic Leadership and Coaching on the Go, and produces a regular podcast and blog dubbed: Lessons in Leadership.

Stop Giving it Away!

Bryan DodgeThe common pricing model in ag retail has been to bundle services like scouting and agronomic recommendations into the cost of the product. When the farmer buys fertilizer or pesticides from the retailer, the cost of the scouting and recommendations is recouped. However, this becomes a problem if the retailer’s agronomist goes out to scout a field and makes a recommendation, but the farmer then buys a product from another source.

Bryan Dodge, author of The Good Life Rules: 8 Keys to Being Your Best at Work and at Play and co-author of Becoming the Obvious Choice, will clarify your thinking processes so good decision-making skills come easily.

He will show successful examples of how other industries unbundled services from product sales, and how to make that transition.

ARA is also planning a session on how and why your organization needs to be leveraging digital communications and marketing strategies to reach current and future customers. The session will answer questions on why ag retailers should dedicate time to social media, potential gains (or losses), appropriate goals and evaluation metrics, and best platforms to help achieve your goals.

Ag Economic Outlook

Terry Barr

Terry Barr, Senior Director of Industry Research for CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division, will examine the outlook for input prices, particularly fertilizer; commodity prices, and economic trends that may have impacts on ag retail businesses.

Before joining CoBank, Barr served as chief economist for the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He previous held various positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including director of economic analysis for the Office of the Secretary, where he prepared economic analyses and assessments of the impacts of alternative farm policy options and decisions. Barr holds a doctorate in economics from Washington State University.

Attracting and Retaining Operations Staff

Bob BroekelmanOne business concerns top the list for many retailers: people. During the past three conferences, ARA has featured breakout sessions on becoming a destination employer; building partnerships with local high schools and community colleges, and preparing for the time when the millennial generation takes over.

For 2016, the Bob Broeckelman, retired Vice President of Recruiting and Section for FCC Services, will focus the on attracting and retaining essential skilled employees: applicators, warehouse personnel, mechanics, clerks, salespeople, agronomists, and other key employees – and provide them meaningful career paths to stay within the business.

Although many of your current employees have likely served 15, 20 or 30 years within your organization, younger employees don’t enter the workforce with an expectation to stay with the same company throughout their career, or even for a significant portion of it.

Prepare for more frequent employee turnover and uncover affordable and effective retention and training programs that help you prepare high-performing employees for advancement and keep key staff.

Lean Practices to Optimize Performance

Steve Shaffer, General Manager, Yargus ManufacturingGenerating higher productivity and continuous improvement are business principles that have stood the test of time.

ARA Conference attendees will examine lean management techniques to help facility managers improve productivity, inventory turns, return on capital, asset utilization and other metrics during a session led by Yargus Manufacturing General Manager Steve Shaffer from  8 to 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando.

“I used to hear that lean practices wouldn’t work for agricultural companies,” Shaffer said. “Now it’s starting to take off. People are hungry for more. The information just hasn’t been available in ag retail.”

Shaffer suggests retailers can double or triple margins, if they fully commit to creating a lean culture.

“Many companies will implement five of the seven or eight tools typically associated with lean practices, such as cleaning, standardization, etc.,” said Shaffer. “But it’s critical to create a lean culture that empowers workers. Lean needs to run deep to maximize profitability.”

In the session, Shaffer will explain lean practices and core values to minimize waste, including “creative waste,” which is found when employees aren’t encouraged to recommend changes, act on ideas or revise processes. Creating a lean culture, Shaffer says, requires empowerment, team building and buy-in at all levels, from the CEO to the forklift operator.

“Tools don’t mean anything without the support of management and key stakeholders.”

Shaffer’s presentation will provide examples of successes from manufacturing, medicine, and even a dentist’s office, as well as specifics on how to get started.

Lean helps to eliminate waste. With less waste in inventory, processes, production, transportation, etc., then profitability can grow from 3-5 percent to 7-15 percent in a short period of time, he said.

However, it’s not a ‘flavor of the month’ management technique. Shaffer said lean will challenge the status quo.

“It’s a paradigm shift that requires you to prove everything you believe to be true with data.”

Shaffer hopes this session gives retailers a roadmap to get started.

“There are two ways to create a lean culture,” he said. “One is to hire expensive consultants, but after they create the plan, you’re left to implement the work. The other is to give your staff the leeway for trial and error and the resources to benchmark themselves against other organizations.”

If naysayers arise, Shaffer suggests creating a pilot program to test lean in your organization.

“Hourly employees are hungry for this type of change -- you’re empowering staff to be more,” he said. “Getting rid of waste is a universal desire for employees. And when EBIT doubles, you take notice pretty quickly.”

Shaffer, a 20-year veteran of the automotive industry, joined Yargus in 2014 after leading lean transformations with Dana, Inc., a tier one automotive supplier; Ford Motor Company and General Motors. He grew up in Washington, Ind., on a large grain and watermelon farm. He earned a business degree from Ohio State University and received his Lean Practitioner Certification at the University of Kentucky.

Demystifying Social Media

Hank CampbellFor Boomers and Gen Xers – not digital natives – in management the idea of investing significant company resources in social media space may be difficult to grasp. This session will look at why ag retailers should dedicate time to social media, the potential gains and possible losses from failing to engage, appropriate goals and evaluation metrics, strategies and tools most likely to achieve goals.

Hank Campbell, President of the American Council on Science and Health, will lead the discussion.

Before joining the Council, he founded the Science 2.0 website and social media movement, which brought science literacy to tens of millions of people since its inception in 2006. Along with Science 2.0, his articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Wired and many more.

Campbell has appeared on Fox News Channel and the Blaze Network.  He is a frequent guest on the Agri-Talk program hosted by Mike Adams.

Campbell graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Penn., in 1983 and graduated in 1987 with a double major in psychology and journalism. He was on a full scholarship and was a Senior Award recipient. Following graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

In 1988, after completing Signal Corps Officer Basic Course in Augusta, Ga., Campbell returned to Pittsburgh where he became a stockbroker. In 1992, he went to work for Algor, Inc., a developer of mechanical engineering software, as their sales manager. In 1995, Campbell became a sales engineer at Ansoft Corporation, a developer of electrical engineering software, as a pre-IPO employee. In 2004, he left Ansoft to become Vice President of Sales at Optimal Corporation, a developer of electrical engineering software. Campbell left Optimal in 2006 and founded Science 2.0.

PSM Compliance: What You Need to Do and When

Mike Hazzan

Although ARA is fighting legislative and legal battles to prevent the Process Safety Management standard from being applied to retail facilities, ignoring the current regulatory environment is not an option. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is vigorously pursuing PSM through formal rulemaking -- and the wheel of government bureaucracy is consistent and heavy. Better to operate like the Scout motto: Be Prepared.

Traditionally, PSM standards have applied to oil refineries and food processors. However, broadening definitions and regulations now mean that ag retailers will also fall under these requirements as well.

In his breakout session at the ARA Conference & Expo, Michael Hazzan, Technical Manager at AcuTech, a process risk management expert, will help ag retailers better understand what they need to do and when in order to be in compliance with PSM. 

Hazzan has more than 35 years of experience in process safety and risk analysis, process security, engineering, and plant operations. He has authored and extensively taught training courses in process safety and risk analysis, as well as security/SVA for the chemical/process and power industries. He has developed and conducted SVA and Facility Security Officer training to hundreds of chemical and petroleum industry representatives, as well as courses in various areas of process safety and risk management.

He has published 25 technical papers in the areas of process safety and risk and security, has served as an expert witness on process safety during the permit hearing process for a new chemical recycling facility. He is the co-author of the CCPS book, Guidelines For Analyzing And Managing The Security Vulnerabilities Of Fixed Chemical Sites, Inherently Safer Chemical Processes, 2nd, edition, Guidelines for Auditing Process Safety Management Systems, and a contributor to the CCPS book on Mechanical Integrity.

Hazzan served more than 26 years in the U.S. Navy, including 7 years on active duty in the nuclear submarine force.

Getting Started

To begin getting acquainted with PSM requirements, one of the first things Hazzan recommends ag retailers do is become comfortable with the idea of documenting almost everything they do in writing.

“There’s a popular mantra when it comes to OSHA’s views on PSM standards,” he said. “If it’s not written down, it never happened.”

For example, employers adhering to PSM requirements need to consult with employees (and their representatives when applicable) regarding efforts in developing and implementing PSM elements.

“This means you should develop a written plan of action for employee participation, consulting with employees during the PSM program development and making all this information under the PSM standard accessible to employees,” said Hazzan.

Management of Change

Then there’s the Management of Change requirement, which Hazzan said both OSHA and industry view as “one of the most important and necessary aspects of PSM.” This requires operators to establish and implement written procedures to manage changes to process chemicals, technology, equipment, and procedures; and to facilities that affect a covered process.

Examples of these would include new equipment, computer program revisions, and the routine replacement of pumps, valves, and other equipment that may be different from what is already in place.

“This element is intended to be a ‘speed bump,’ but not a road block to change,” said Hazzan. “Challenges to meeting this requirement include ensuring that all covered changes are identified and changing the previously ingrained practices and company culture on making changes.”

Written documentation also applies in the areas of Process Safety Information (PSI) and Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), he said.

“PSI enables those involved in the process to identify and understand hazards associated with it,” said Hazzan. “This includes information on any materials hazards present, the technology of the systems being used, and other equipment that might be involved. And this needs to be in a written form that is accessible to all employees. You can’t rely on someone’s memory to accomplish this.”

As for PHA, this should be a written analysis addressing such topics as process hazards at the facility, outlining the engineering and administrative controls used to address them, and the likely consequences of failing to adhere to these controls.

“This analysis should be updated and revalidated at least every five years using a team approach to assure that the PHA is consistent with the current process,” said Hazzan.

The Importance Of MI

Of all the many moving parts that will make up an ag retailer’s functioning PSM plan, said Hazzan, Mechanical Integrity (MI) is probably the most important.

“The first line of defense in process safety is to keep hazardous materials contained through well designed, operated, and maintained equipment,” he said.

As such, fully one-fourth of the 16-hour PSM training session was devoted to looking at the MI requirements in-depth.

For starters, MI covers virtually all the equipment at a facility involved in any type of process operations. This includes pressure vessels and storage tanks, piping systems (including their various components), relief and vent devices, emergency shutdown systems, pumps, and other controls such as monitoring devices, sensors, alarms, and interlocks. Written procedures covering all these items need to be established and employees need to be trained in maintaining equipment integrity.

“In addition, inspection, testing, and preventive maintenance should be performed on all process equipment, which is the heart and soul of the MI requirement,” said Hazzan. “The frequency of this should be consistent with manufacturer’s recommendations or more frequent if so determined through prior operating experience.”

He recommended adhering to Recognized And Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEPs) established by such organizations as the Compressed Gas Association, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Petroleum Institute for guidance in this area.

For many in the processing sector, performing these kinds of proactive methods in their operations was usually not the norm, said Hazzan.

“Until PSM was implemented, most processing companies did not do preventive maintenance on their equipment,” he said. “Most had the philosophy of ‘we don’t fix anything until after it breaks.’”

According to Hazzan, common MI deficiencies include overdue inspections/testing, safety features that are bypassed (such as blocked in-relief valves), the use of pipe clamps to temporarily stop leaks, and pressure relief valves and other components that may have expired.

“MI is the most complicated PSM element in part because it involves many activities and groups/departments at the site,” he said. “Most companies are still working to comply with this element.”

Other Considerations

Beyond these components of PSM, Hazzan advised ag retailers attending the training session to look at such areas as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“SOPs should be written in a style and level of detail that supports their use as training documents and should include storage and transfer operations not covered by the Department of Transportation,” he said. “Electronically available SOPs are okay, as long as there is at least one hardcopy available in the event of a power outage.”

Then, there’s auditing all PSM elements periodically.

“These should be conducted every three years, be done by at least one person that is knowledgeable in the processes of the facility, be certified, and filed with a written report,” said Hazzan. “And any corrective actions should be taken immediately once the audit is complete. Facilities cannot take the three years until the next audit to do this.”


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Speaker Previews

Speaker Highlights

Keynote Speakers

Stuart Rothenberg, The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report

Matthew Phillips, Phillips-McDougall

Lee Cockerell, Walt Disney World Resorts (retired)

Executive Leadership Breakout Sessions

Ag Economic Outlook
Terry Barr, CoBank

Stop Giving it Away!
Bryan Dodge

Demystifying Social Media
Hank Campbell, American Council on Science & Health

Operations Management Breakout Sessions

PSM Compliance: What you Need to Do and When
Mike Hazzan, AcuTech

Lean Practices to Optimize Performance
Steve Shaffer, Yargus Manufacturing

Attracting and Retaining Operations Staff
Bob Broeckelman, FCC Services (retired)