Keynote Speakers


Keynote: Pierre Brondeau

Opening Keynote Presentation  |  General Session

Wednesday, Dec. 4  |  8:30-9:30 a.m.

Stay tuned for more information about Pierre Brondeau's keynote presentation topic and for a full biography!
Shep Hyken

Keynote: Shep Hyken

Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations
Keynote Presentation  |  General Session  |  9:30-10:00 a.m.

Customer Experience Breakout Session  | Room: TBD  | 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 4

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. His most requested speaking programs focus on customer service, customer loyalty, internal service, customer relations and the customer experience. He is known for his high-energy presentations, which combine important information with entertainment to create exciting programs for his audiences.

Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. In 1983, Shep founded Shepard Presentations and since then has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 100 size organizations to companies with less than 50 employees.
VIncent Boles

Vincent Boles

Retired U.S. Major General
Keynote Presentation  |  General Session

Thursday, Dec. 5  | 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Retired U.S. Major General Vincent (Vinny) Boles was commissioned from the ARMY ROTC program at Niagara University as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1976. He has served in a variety of assignments over a 33-year career, including Command at every possible level and a number of combat deployments. His final Army assignment was as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G4 on the Army Staff in the Pentagon where he oversaw logistics operations and readiness for the 1.1 million soldier force to include the surges into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Retiring in 2009 to Madison, Alabama, he established Vincent E. Boles, Inc., a leadership and logistics consulting practice. He has been speaking and working with corporate and association groups around the nation and overseas, coaching them on the subject of teams "Best Getting Better." He is author of "4-3-2-1 Leadership...What America's Sons and Daughters Taught Me on the Road from 2nd Lieutenant to 2 Star General." In 2011, he was inducted in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps and Niagara University ROTC Halls of Fame. He serves as an adjunct professor of leadership and logistics at the University of Alabama Huntsville and the Defense Acquisition University - South.

Breakout Session Speakers


Hunter Carpenter

Director of Public Policy, ARA
Federal Issues Breakout Session with ARA's Policy Team  |  Room: TBD

Wednesday, Dec. 4  |  2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Hunter Carpenter serves as Director of Public Policy for the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). 

He is responsible for ARA's Farm Bill, conservation, tax, trade, and energy issues, as well as leading efforts on sustainability and precision agriculture. 

Previously, Carpenter worked in the office of Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as a policy advisor and legislative liaison. He also brings political campaign experience to ARA having worked on campaigns at all levels of government and in various capacities.

 A native of Columbus, Miss., Carpenter received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Mississippi. Hunter enjoys golf and Ole Miss sports in his free time.


Richard Gupton

Senior Vice President, Public Policy & Counsel, ARA
Federal Issues Breakout Session with ARA's Policy Team  |  Room: TBD
Wednesday, Dec. 4  |  2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Gupton represents the ag retailers’ and distributors’ interests before the legislative and executive branches of government, working to ensure that important ag retail-distribution issues receive fair consideration on Capitol Hill. He also manages ARAPAC, the association’s political action committee. Policy Emphasis: environment and stewardship, transportation, biotechnology, and campaign finance.

Before joining ARA, Gupton served as deputy director of agricultural finance for the Independent Community of Bankers of America (ICBA). In that capacity, Gupton represented the interests of community banks before Congress and the Administration. He filled leadership roles on the House Republican Policy Subcommittee on Environment, Resources and the Agriculture Advisory Board. In addition, he contributed articles regularly to the Washington Weekly Report and Independent Banker magazine. Before ICBA, Gupton spent 6 years working as legislative counsel for several members of Congress. Gupton is a graduate of Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, and holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and the District of Columbia.
Will Secor

Will Secor

Economist, CoBank
Making Digital Interactions Easy Breakout Session  |  Room: TBD

Wednesday, Dec. 4  |  3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Will Secor is an economist in CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research division, focusing on grain, oilseed, farm supply, and biofuel industries. Will identifies and analyzes the impacts of strategic challenges, risks and opportunities in these industries, providing strategic insights for internal and external stakeholders. Prior to joining CoBank in 2017, Will was a faculty member in Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business delivering professional development programs to agribusiness industry professionals. Will holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Virginia Tech in Agricultural & Applied Economics, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Applied Economics.

About CoBank: CoBank is a national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture and the nation's rural economy. In addition to serving its direct retail borrowers, the bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving approximately 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.
Wayne Honeycutt

Wayne Honeycutt

President and CEO, Soil Health Institute
Soil Health Breakout Session  |  Room: TBD
Wednesday, Dec. 4  |  3:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Dr. Wayne Honeycutt is President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute where he leads the Institute’s programs to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soils. He previously served for 5 years as Deputy Chief for Science and Technology with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Washington, D.C., where he led programs in technology acquisition, development, and transfer to ensure NRCS conservation practices reflect the latest scientific advances for conserving the nation’s soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. He served as a research soil scientist for 14 years and a research leader for 10 years with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Orono, Maine, where he led and conducted interdisciplinary research on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling and sustainable cropping systems development. In those roles he led national research teams for predicting nutrient availability, developed procedures adopted by ARS for enhancing national research coordination, and received regional and national awards for technology transfer.

He is a graduate of the Mastering the Art of Public Leadership executive development program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and USDA’s “Performance Excellence and Knowledge” executive development program. He has served on assignments to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, USDA-ARS National Program Staff, and USDA-ARS Area Office Staff. Wayne’s commitment to agriculture is rooted in his experiences with raising tobacco, corn, and other crops on his family’s 120-acre farm in Kentucky.

General Session Panel Moderator & Panelists

Margy Eckelkamp

Margy Eckelkamp

Editor, AgPro; Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete
Competing Retail Models Panel  (Moderator) |  General Session

Thursday, Dec. 5  |  10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Margy Eckelkamp is a multimedia journalist aiming to provide the agricultural industry with leading service journalism. As editor of AgPro, Margy provides editorial guidance, reporting and organization for the publication that serves ag retailers, farm managers and crop consultants. Margy is the editorial lead for the Farm Journal AgTech Expo event. She also continues to be part of the team that aligns Machinery Pete with farm equipment dealers and delivers industry-leading machinery trends reports.
Alexander Reichert

Alexander Reichert

Co-Founder and CEO, AgVend
Competing Retail Models Panel (Panelist)  |  General Session
Thursday, Dec. 5  |  10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Alexander is co-founder and CEO of AgVend, the leading agricultural eCommerce platform connecting ag retailers to farmers looking to purchase inputs and services online. AgVend’s digital commerce platform enables Partner Retailers to market their solutions, support their customers, and sell products anywhere and at any time. Retailers can choose to list inventory through the AgVend Marketplace or on their own private-labeled AgVend Storefront. Prior to starting AgVend, Alexander was the VP of Product at Mavrx, an agricultural aerial imagery company, heading the product marketing, support, and management teams. Before joining Mavrx, Alexander led product for Euclid where he worked with Fortune 500 traditional retailers looking to create an omnichannel experience by integrating an eCommerce strategy into their existing sales channel.
Bruce Vernon

Bruce Vernon

CEO, The Equity
Competing Retail Models Panel (Panelist)  |  General Session

Thursday, Dec. 5  |  10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Bruce Vernon was named CEO of The Equity in February of 2015. In October of 2017, he was appointed to the board of directors at Land O’ Lakes Inc. Also in 2017, Vernon assumed the role of CEO and Chairman of the Board of CommoditAg, LLC. Prior to joining The Equity, Bruce was VP International for Koch Agronomic Services in Wichita, Kansas; VP Fertilizer for Viterra in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; CMO for MKC in Moundridge, Kansas and Director of Crop Nutrient Sales and Risk Management for Agriliance, LLC. He has also held several management positions with Farmland Industries. Bruce and his wife Jayne live in Effingham, Illinois, and have two grown children, a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandson, granddaughter in Kansas City.