In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I. November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became legally known as Veterans Day.
On Monday we’ll celebrate America’s 81st Veteran’s Day.
Did you know that veterans are overrepresented in rural America? Nearly 18 percent of veterans live in rural (nonmetro) counties, compared to 15 percent of the U.S. adult civilian population. About 10 percent of all rural civilian adults are veterans, but in some rural counties, that figure can reach as high as 25 percent.
We’re proud to employ several who have served over multiple decades, for varying reasons, but with the same tremendous commitment to our country.
A lot of Americans get this confused, but Veterans Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds they suffered in battle. Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.
For years we’ve partnered with a calendar company to design antique tractor calendars for our farmer-members. Our fuel and propane drivers hand them out to customers over the fall months, our ag centers keep a stack on the counter so our farmer-members can grab one when they come in to request an order and our Richmond office displays a stack so folks can take one when they’re in to pay a bill.
About eight years ago we decided to do something different and instead of using antique tractors as the monthly photo, we did a calendar with photos of rural America. Month by month, the calendar displayed hidden gems across the US, sunsets in fly-over states, New England in the fall and Utah in the white winter months. It turned out beautifully and we thought our members would love it.
Boy, were we wrong.
We received so much push back and verbalized disappointment from our customers because we didn’t distribute an antique tractor calendar that year. We had no idea how much our customers looked forward to such a small gesture. We learned that those calendars reminded them of their dad, or granddad, or sweet mother, or their growing up years on the farm. We learned it was not just a calendar. We also learned it’s not just a tractor.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s where you learned, and earned, a little bit of freedom out in an open field for the first time.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s a sound that resonates with power, and progress and passion.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the memory of working alongside your granddad who was – and still is – the most admirable person you’ve ever known.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the only thing that could get down Marshall Road to the livestock during the Blizzard of 1978.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the thrill you got when first riding on the fender and watching the hypnotic tire tread roll down the road to a rhythmic rumble.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s how we came to realize that if children were self-starters, mothers wouldn’t have to be such cranks.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place from which you dared your sister to jump from the highest step, and she earned her first set of stitches.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s where your good, faithful, favorite, dog rode on the fender with you while spreading manure, making one of the most boring jobs on the farm more enjoyable.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the pride in making an investment that will serve your generation and the next.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the machine you used to introduce new technology and practices to the farm, including no-till planting, cover crops and GPS.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the memory of riding on the platform behind your dad while he lead you into the next great adventure.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place where you strap your pride and joy into the buddy seat and feel their head against your arm, or see it bouncing off the window, fifteen minutes later. A tractor is a fine resting spot for youth.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s the place where your father thought he was teaching you about mechanics, but you also picked up on a whole new vocabulary.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s a vision of restoration come to life, preserving a time capsule of labor and memories for years and years to come.
It’s not just a tractor. It’s a machine that allowed our families to work the ground and plant a seed in the spring, mow and bale the hay in the summer, pull the grain cart in the fall and plow the neighbor’s drive in the winter. It’s a tool for growing and harvesting a lifestyle that can’t be replaced.
It’s not just a tractor. And we’ve learned it’s not just a calendar, either. Stop by your local ag center today to pick one a Harvest Land calendar for 2020.
What has your tractor meant to you? We invite you to comment below.
It is somewhat astonishing to think that we can send mankind to the moon and there are still hungry children in our community.
So when Land O’Lakes invited our CEO, Scott Logue, to take part in a donation of 39,690 pounds of freshly made Land O’Lakes’ macaroni and cheese to Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, he didn’t hesitate to join the efforts.
The First Run program, one of Land O’Lakes projects with Feeding America, makes fresh product specifically for donation to food banks across the United States. Last year, they donated 476,280 pounds of product to food banks nationwide.
The First Run program was introduced in 2010 to increase the amount of product donated to food banks across the country. This is the sixth donation made to Ohio! Land O’Lakes has committed to donating truckloads of fresh product to several food banks each quarter and we’re grateful to have been a part of this one right here in our trade area.
To date, Land O’Lakes has made over 100 donations to food banks across the United States, totaling more than 5 million pounds of product.
While there was no camera crew in Cincinnati, we do have a video of a First Run donation that Land O’Lakes did in South Dakota – hopefully, it gives a little feel for what the event is like:
Harvest Land is grateful to be part of such a donation to our community. We understand the troubling magnitude of hunger and we want to be a part of the solution. We offer a sincere thanks to Land O’Lakes for allowing us to be a part of this donation. We’re proud to be members of a national cooperative that gives so much to communities in which we live and work.
With more than fifty locations, it can be difficult to hear about all the great things happening within our cooperative, thanks in large part to our team of dedicated employees. In a world with media that seems to sensationalize negative news, Salute to Service is a way to find the good.
So, let’s hear all the good news.
We’d like to invite you to participate in our Salute to Service program, which will recognize employees for a job well done.
You can participate by sending us stories of the positive encounters or experiences you have with Harvest Land employees.
Share with us the instance of an employee going above and beyond, someone handling a difficult assignment with professionalism or an employee representing Harvest Land in an oustanding way.
We invite you to tell us
why an employee deserves to be
commended on a job well done.
In late fall, we’ll present the top Salute to Service entries to our employee base and ask them to vote for the best example of a Harvest Land employee exceeding expectations. The winner – as chosen by their peers – will be rewarded with a $1,000 cash prize and 2 vacation days. For the person that submits the winning entry? Well, they’ll walk away with $250.
Keep a watchful eye this harvest season as the weather cools and don’t hesitate to contact us with your story/stories for Salute to Service.
On January 1 we celebrate new beginnings, but usually by the 23rd of the month the gym parking lots are no longer packed.
On February 14 we celebrate love, but usually by the 24th the roses have wilted.
On July 4 we celebrate independence, but by the 5th the fireworks have lost their sparkle.
On December 25 we celebrate Christ’s birth, but by the 26th we’re thinking about returns and taking down the tree.
On September 11 we all remember a day that forever changed American life and history, but by September 13th political wars are again raging within our native land and we’re once again divided.
September 11, 2001 is a date in which we’ll never forget where we were when the events unfolded. Just like when Kennedy was shot or the Challenger exploded, it seemed for just a minute time stood still and nothing else mattered but that moment being chronicled on the television screen.
Unlike New Year’s Day or the Fourth of July,
the days that followed September 11, 2001
are the days that we miss the most.
We miss the American spirit that began raging like fire across the open prairies and city streets.
We miss the abundance of American flags being displayed at high school football games, on interstate overpasses, by motorcyclists traveling cross-country, those hanging from 15th-floor apartment balconies and painted on old rural barns.
We miss the way Lee Greenwood became a household name and voice again.
We miss the way that nothing mattered for a few days but the safety of our families and that we were all together. If just for a brief time, family dinners, phone calls and visits became normal again.
We miss the way that a sense of pride came over Americans and we were determined to take on the enemy that slept outside our great borders, as long as we were facing them, together.
We miss the days when we took a true interest in what was going on in our country and paid great attention to current world events.
We miss seeing, reading, and saying, “United We Stand” and truly believing it.
We miss September 13, 2001 and we often wish that our country could go back to that day. Not the sheer horror, confusion or numb shock of September 11, but the unity, patriotism and compassion for one another that came in the days that followed.
Can we get back there?
Can we get back to honoring our flag and teaching our children the significance of those colors?
Can we get back to being proud to live in this great country because of the opportunities we have at our calloused fingertips, our rich history that made us who we are and the beautiful landscapes that offer so much in the way of food, fiber and enjoyment?
Can we get back to compassion instead of competition, kindness instead of animosity and service instead of solitude?
Can we get back to more prayer and less political divide?
We think we can, and we hope you agree.
Today we’ll go about our business at the ag centers.
We’ll spread lime,
and haul diesel fuel,
and prepare facilities for harvest,
and deliver propane for the winter months ahead.
Today, on September 13, 2019, we’ll take off our Harvest Land caps when the National Anthem plays on the country radio station over lunch, and we’ll remain proud to be operating in the greatest country in the world.
Those along the rural route are the type of people who care for and look out for each other.
We bring dinner when new babies arrive or matriarchs pass.
We help get cattle back in when fences go bad or bale hay when machinery breaks down and rain is on the way.
Our kids do the neighbors’ chores when they finally go on vacation and our grandparents cut out articles from the weekly newspaper when they think parents may need an extra copy.
So it should be no surprise when we tell you that 2019 marks the 10th Habitat for Humanity Ag Build at the Indiana State Fair. During years one through five, they built one house per year during the span of the fair. Then, in year six the goal was taken to the next level and since that time two homes are built during the fair, annually.
Harvest Land was proud to send four employees to work alongside employees from five other cooperatives. For a day of home building, sponsors are asked to make a $10,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity. This is not a small donation so it makes a big difference that member cooperatives were able to work together to share in the cost.
Jason Haney, Site Superintendent, told us that this is the only State Fair in the United States in which there is a Habitat for Humanity partnership and a whole home build happens.
And Harvest Land is a part of it!
Community service fuels the rural American spirit. We readily step in when needed and certainly aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. We’ll all agree that there is a certain satisfaction found when lying down for the night knowing that you helped someone in need. That is Cultivating Communities. That is Harvest Land.
When you spend an extended period of time with your coworkers, including those times during fast but furious springs, extended falls and endless winters, you tend to learn a little more about them. We consider it a pleasure that we’re able to get to know our employees outside Harvest Land. Spouses, children, grandchildren, pets, hobbies, and passions: we find it quite fascinating to learn more about the people that make Harvest Land the organization it is.
Dave Naylor works out of our Lynn Ag Center in Randolph County, Indiana. He is a true patriot, not only serving our country but also by constantly finding ways to help others in the area. When flooding rains came in September 2018, Dave was eager to jump in and help pack and stack sandbags in the community of Lynn.
He is known to us at work as Dave, but to others as Sergeant First Class (SFC) Naylor, Army Reserve Career Counselor (ARCC). You see, when he departs from the co-op gravel lot, he goes on to serve our country in a unique and admirable way. This week, we want to share with you Dave’s story with the Army Reserves.
Dave has 34 creditable years with the Army/ Army Reserve. His first association with the military was 1985 when he joined the Army Reserve at age 17. Can you imagine the weight of that decision at such an age? His desire to join was fueled by a family history of military service, patriotism and a strong sense of adventure. After about a year and a half of Army Reserve, he joined Active Duty. He served in the Army for three years then reentered Army Reserve and hasn’t left since.
For Dave, the idea of such a commitment to service was never a concern. In fact, he has committed 34 years to military, almost 29 years to his marriage, 29 years to Harvest Land and has donated over 100 units of blood. When commits to something, he does so wholly.
We’ll admit, in working with Dave to tell his story, we wanted to gain clarification of just what the Army Reserves are. The Army Reserve’s mission, under Title 10 U.S. Code, is to provide trained, equipped, and ready Soldiers and cohesive units to meet the global requirements across the full spectrum of operations. The Army Reserve is a key element in the Army multi-component unit force, training with Active and National Guard units to ensure all three components work as a fully integrated team. So, we think it is safe to say that it is probably rare that Dave ever feels unprepared for his daily work at the co-op! He told us that most people may not realize that the Army Reserve is a great way to serve your country. For a relatively small amount of time investment, the benefits are substantial: Tricare, education monies, travel opportunities and acquiring job skills are a few.
When committing yourself to such service, there is bound to be challenges. Dave admits that his challenges are balancing family, civilian job and Army Reserve commitments. “I’m blessed to have a supporting family, and extended family within Lynn Ag, but even so I sometimes feel I’m trying to serve two Masters,” he told us.
On the other hand, such an experience offers many rewards. We asked Dave what has been the greatest reward in serving the Army Reserves.
“Through the years, I’ve met many incredible people, seen some awesome places and have had many moments of personal satisfaction, whether it was from completing a physically difficult task or helping a soldier learn a new skill, that to narrow all that down to “Greatest” is thought-provoking,” he responded, then paused. “Honestly, I have to say it’s the sum total of all my experiences.”
He also relayed that a great lesson he’s learned through the Reserves is that teamwork towards a common goal is a powerful thing and with teamwork, most things can be overcome. As a cooperative owned by 5,500 farmer- members and operated by 300+ employees, we couldn’t agree more.
Finally, in closing, Dave wanted to add this.
“I feel fortunate to work for a company that has supported me in my military career. We all know that in this line of work when it’s go time, it’s time to go! Through the years, some of my coworkers have had to take up the slack while I was away for duty. Even with that, I have never gotten any push back for having been gone, from coworkers or management. To all the veterans out there that may read this- thank you for your service.”
We’ll second that sentiment.
Harvest Land is proud to have Dave as part of our team for nearly 30 years. We admire and respect his service, greatly. Thank you, Dave, for your service, sacrifice and work you do on behalf of every American. Your volunteerism and heart for service are second to none.
A few months ago, Matt Reese of Ohio’s Country Journal reached out to Harvest Land asking if we have any tools for training and keeping good employees, as this topic has been increasingly important in agribusiness. We decided to share the details and success of our ACE program with Matt and Ohio’s Country Journal. This week, we share with you the full article Matt wrote:
Tools for training and keeping good employees increasingly important in agribusiness
By Matt Reese
It is not an uncommon story. A young employee starts at the lowest levels of a company, works in every facet of the business and one day ends up running it.
“Our CEO is in his early 40s. He hired on at a local ag center as an applicator, which is a technical job driving big machines. He was willing to do anything. He would tie feed sacks at the mill, sweep shop floors, check out customers at the counter — that man now is our CEO,” said Lindsay Sankey, communications manager for Harvest Land Cooperative with locations in western Ohio and Indiana. “He has worked in every department of our business. He is a prime example that if you are willing to learn and take on responsibility, there is so much opportunity in a farmer owned cooperative. We have several examples of this. He started on the lowest rung and now he is leading the cooperative.”
Unfortunately, for a number of different reasons, this type of ground up experience and long-term company loyalty seems to be less common in the modern pool of employees. Harvest Land Cooperative recognizes the value of this type of experience for young potential leaders and has taken extensive steps to recreate it as a way to groom tomorrow’s leaders.
“About 5 years ago we started talking about succession in the cooperative system. Harvest Land has about 300 full time employees and about a third of them will retire in the next decade. We recognized the need to fill our bench, you might say, with people who are qualified to be a valuable leader in our business. As we prepare for future demand of an evolving agricultural climate, we also must provide our emerging front runners with a broad perspective of what our cooperative does,” Sankey said. “That gave us the idea for our Accelerated Career Excellence (ACE) Program. We invite people to apply for this program, right out of college or trade school, maybe someone who is interested in working for Harvest Land, but they might not know exactly where they could fit. This is a great program because it allows them to see all facets of our business in 12 months and determine what areas suit them and how they suit our system the best.”
The paid position through the ACE Program sets the stage for future leaders by teaching them about Harvest Land from the ground up.
“They go on a tour of our co-op. They work in the agronomy department, they work in the energy department that includes fuels, home heat and propane, they have to dive deep into our seed business, and then they go through training on the importance of organization and prioritization skills. They go through a whole session on personality testing and how to understand and work with multiple types of people. They also are required to dive deep into the financial understanding of the cooperative system and specifically Harvest Land’s balance sheet. We give assigned reading to them and we bring in a professor from Purdue on communication skills and how to work with customers, growers and the community. As they go through this they are showing up every day at a local location or our headquarters,” Sankey said. “We started this in 2016 and we have had really good success. We had a young man come out of the casket industry, and he applied for a job at Harvest Land. He had grown up on a small farm in Indiana but had not been a part of that farm in a decade. He is about to take over our grain marketing department in September. He has excelled so much. He showed up. He was willing to learn. He really shined in grain marketing and when our grain marketing manager retires, this young man will take over the department. Every one of our candidates has accepted full time positions. They are doing cool things for the co-op and are proving their leadership abilities. We recognize we are building strength on our bench at Harvest Land.”
ACE offers a chance for young leaders to discover where they may fit, but it also provides a chance for management to learn about the upcoming talent.
“The managers supervise, evaluate and enrich the experience for these individuals so they get a boots on the ground look at Harvest Land. Our managers are always looking for good help and their feedback is extremely valuable and candid. We know when things are going well or when an ACE candidate is not so interested in that area,” Sankey said. “ACE is managed by our HR department and it is a large part of what they do. From the very beginning when they interview someone, this is in the back of their mind. Because this is a 12-month program and it is cyclical, they are constantly having to manage how long someone has been in the department, where they are now, and who they have worked with. It is a lot of work. We have three HR individuals on our team and they do a great job of facilitating the ACE Program.
“When you recognize the needs of running a business, you know you are going to have to put in some work to attract young talent. Every ounce of effort put into this will pay us back if we can create a good culture and hire these employees that will stick with Harvest Land.”
Good, long-term employees are shaped by their work experiences, but they also respond to a workplace culture including positive core values. Emphasizing and instilling those values with employees is the reason behind the IREP program at A&L Great Lakes Laboratoriesbased in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
“A couple years ago we had a bit of an identity crisis. We needed to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. So for about 9 months, we worked on identifying what we really stood for as a company,” said Jamie Bultemeier, agronomist and corporate sales director for A&L Great Lakes Laboratories. “We identified our core values are doing the right things with integrity when no one is looking. We want to do things right the first time every time. We want to be easy to work with. When the customers are looking for solutions, we want to solve those problems. And, we want to be partners with our customers. If their business grows, our business grows and we can build loyalty with our customers that way. A group of employees came up with IREP: Integrity, Right, Easy, Partnership as a way to remember them. That has stuck and become a foundation for what we do.”
IREP is focused inward.
“Our outward appearance and marketing is based on these four core values too, but this is about getting employees to adopt the same internal branding that we are pushing outward. And when someone calls the office, no matter who they talk to, we want these core values to exude from the conversations. We want a consistent message of what A&L Great Lakes stands for. IREP has been a way to bring this into an easy to understand concept that people can buy into,” he said. “When you can articulate your core values, it opens doors for sales and hiring new talent. It really clarifies our value messages to people. When we make big decisions, does it stand on our core values? If it doesn’t, we don’t do it. It has made the decision making process easier too.”
From the beginning, new employees are introduced to the IREP concept. It is featured on a plaque in the office lobby, but more importantly it is emphasized on a wall in the back of the office for employees to sign if they agree with those principles.
“We are hoping we can build an emotional tie to the company. We rely heavily on seasonal employees and when we can get an employee to return it really helps. When they come back we do not have to retrain them and they understand how things work. We hope to bring those part timers back year after year,” Bultemeier said. “We have always had a small group of seasonals who return, but trying to get them to return has gotten more difficult. Now we are getting to the point where those people are developing a personal tie to the company and become something more than just a seasonal employee. That makes them more likely to come back each year.”
Because it was developed from the inside out, IREP has been very effective.
“IREP has been around for about a year and a half. When we started going through this branding process, the company morale took a little bit of a dive. It created some open conversations that maybe weren’t the most fun to be a part of. We have really since then seen a real change in morale as we have brought some of these things out and company morale has really gone up dramatically. Employees are taking ownership in this. We are also now trying to catch people following the IREP values and highlighting it. We encourage it and celebrate it when it occurs,” Bultemeier said. “It doesn’t matter the size of your business or what it is, that unified belief or value set is important. It is tough if those values are only in your marketing. If it doesn’t resonate through the employees of the company, it is lost. Now we hear from our customers using the words directly out of IREP. That is huge when we see that manifesting itself in our customer base. That is not something you can fake or get in advertising. This is deeper than a marketing program. This started out as a management need. It was a very methodical business oriented decision to do it. When the employees took ownership of this, it took on a life of its own.”
This is the third of a series of five stories in cooperation with the Ohio AgriBusiness Association highlighting human resource management solutions in Ohio agribusinesses.
CountryMark’s 2019 Fueling Freedom event was a success at our Elwood, Greenville, Greenfield, Oxford and United Energy locations. We’re proud to partner with CountryMark on this event that does so much for the families of soldiers. More than $57,000 was raised across all participating CountryMark stations.
We thought this Facebook post from a CountryMark employee encapsulates the value in this event:
Here is a breakdown of our results:
Greenfield Store: 1990 gallons and $203 in donations
This morning we want to encourage you to support our 2019 Fueling Freedom program today, June 21!
Purchase fuel at the CountryMark stations listed below, and we’ll donate 50 cents for every gallon of fuel pumped from noon – 5:00 PM to the local National Guard Family Readiness Group.
Oxford, OH (KDS Express)
Fountaintown, IN (United Energy)
Did You Know?
100% of the proceeds from Fueling Freedom will go to support local National Guard Family Readiness Groups.
Family Readiness Groups fund activities for troops and their families. Many of the Family Readiness Groups use their funds to host summer picnics, hold Christmas dinners, send packages to deployed soldiers, and offer after-school programs for children of American soldiers.
Our National Guard troops defend our country and our people every day. This Fourth of July, we want them to know how much we appreciate what they do for us.
This is the 11thyear the CountryMark system has hosted Fueling Freedom events.
We encourage you to come out for Fueling Freedom, purchase CountryMark TOP TIER gasoline and premium diesel fuel, and register to win a $150 fuel card. One fuel card will be given away at each CountryMark fueling station participating in Fueling Freedom.
Show your patriotism and come out (to Greenville, OH; Greenfield, IN; Elwood, IN; Oxford, OH (KDS Express); or Fountaintown, IN (United Energy)) today from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM!