Beyond the Co-op: Dave Naylor

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.

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Naylor is operating the loader.

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.

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Specialist Naylor (left) and Specialist Bock in Korea, 1988. They were on their way to Seoul to see the Olympics being held there that year. Even though he hasn’t seen Tony (Bock) in person since the first Gulf War in 1991, they have kept in touch.

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.

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In 2018 Harvest Land employees and family members attended a voluntary CPR class on a Saturday.
Greg Pflum, Dave Naylor and Derek Nicholson (pictured together) are three Harvest Land employees who also serve as volunteer firemen in their communities. Dave attended the Saturday morning class after attending his National Guard PT first.

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.

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In 2016, our Lynn Ag Center was recognized by the Department of Defense as a Patriotic Employer because of Rusty Keller and Bill Davenport’s support of Dave Naylor’s service in the Indiana United States Army Reserve. They were thanked for their encouragement and support of Naylor’s service to our country.
Naylor wrote in his nomination of Keller:
“I work at an agri-business so our workload is very seasonal and weather dependent. On countless occasions, Rusty has had to work around my Battle Assembly schedule and Annual Training dates even when the planting and harvest season is in full swing, when working 12 to 14 hours per day, 6 or 7 days a week is the norm. Once, he even dispatched a pick-up truck to pick me up in the field and transport me into town so I could get a haircut for Reserves the next day. That meant parking a $200,000 machine so I wouldn’t get a counseling statement of a “U” (UNSAT) for my hair being out of regulations! Additionally, when I was mobilized back in 2004, some of the last words to me before leaving were, “If your family needs anything, have them call me.”; I know he meant that with sincerity.”

 

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.

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Tools for Training and Keeping Good Employees Increasingly Important in Agribusiness

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:

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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.”

 

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Kyle Baumer is one of many success stories through Harvest Land’s ACE Program.

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.

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“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.

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If employees decide to embrace the principles of IREP at A&L Great Lakes Laboratories they get to add their name to the wall.

 

“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.

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We apprecaite Matt reaching out to Harvest Land. You can read the full article printed in the recent edition, or online here.

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ACE Program Welcomes 2019 Hires

As our cooperative business evolves, Harvest Land recognizes the need to invest in our greatest asset: our employees. With nearly 1/3 of our employee group retiring in the next ten years, there is immense opportunity for individuals to advance their careers within our cooperative and gain extensive experience to provide greater service and value to our members.

As we prepare for the increased responsibilities and future demands of an evolving agriculture climate, we must provide emerging frontrunners with a broader perspective. This more-strategic perspective enables them to see the business as a whole—beyond specific functions or departments. By gaining this perspective, they are more prepared to successfully operate in leadership positions.

The ACE (Accelerated Career Excellence) program is a 12-month career development ACE Logo-01
program designed to enable participants to strategically frame their thinking, learn and use basic cooperative business knowledge and tools, and apply what is learned in the context of their accelerating career.

We recently welcomed two new ACE candidates to Harvest Land:

Kenzi Schwieterman, originally from Ridgeville, Indiana, joins us after graduating from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy. Before joining our team, Kenzi worked previously as a crops resource center teaching assistant at Purdue, a research diagnostic intern with the USDA and plays an active role on her family’s farm. Kenzi begins her career at Randolph Ag. 

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Nick Arnold is originally from Hagerstown and has launched his career with Harvest Land at Central Ohio Ag. Nick recently graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science degree in agribusiness management. Prior to joining our team, Nick worked as a sales intern with AgriGold Hybrids and was also a Harvest Land Field Tech summer intern in 2017. Nick has also been a large part of operations on his family’s farm, where his passion for agriculture was ignited. 

Nick Arnold

We’re extremely excited about these two individuals joining the Harvest Land team and we look forward to the perspective they’ll bring to our farmer-owned cooperative.

Welcome, Kenzi & Nick!

 

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Building a Cathedral​

Harvest Land has an internal monthly newsletter called theLINK. TheLINK was created in 2014 in an effort to bridge the gap between our agronomy, energy, feed, and grain Company Newsletter May 2019_Page_1marketing businesses, highlight employees and share good news across our entire cooperative. The newsletter comes out on the last day of each month so that we’re able to kick off a new month with positive insight about our employer. Employees do a great job of sending in content to be used in theLINK so their co-workers can be recognized for a job well done.

In this monthly communication, our CEO writes a message to the entire employee base. Usually, he writes about an area where employees have contributed to the improvement of our cooperative in a special way or shares business insight that employees may not see otherwise.

 

We found this month’s Message from Scott

worth passing on to our Trust & Traction readers:

 

Have I ever told you the story of the three bricklayers?

A traveler came upon three men working. He asked the first man what he was doing.

The first man answered gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’

The second man replied, ‘I’m putting up a wall.’

But the third man said enthusiastically and with pride, ‘I’m building a cathedral.’

They were all doing the same thing. The first man had a job. The second man had a career. The third man had a purpose.

There are countless positions held by our 300+ employees, and within a day, a single person can manage multiple tasks within their position. Every act that you contribute on our behalf matters. Whether you’re keeping organized records of fuel deliveries within the cab of your truck, paying our operational bills so that we keep the lights on, cleaning out the warehouse so we ensure critters are at a minimum or coordinating the delivery of a product to a farmer who is anxious about the season ahead: Your job at Harvest Land serves great purpose.

It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day immediate tasks. Those are the things that must be done now, or else. But let’s not lose sight of the value of the work. We may be laying bricks every day – come (excessive) rain, snow, or shine – but if we can envision the end result and go through our days with intention, our daily work becomes much more meaningful.

Today and always, I thank you for your work, brick by brick.

 

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This week we’ll leave you with this thought:

Are you viewing your day-to-day work as laying bricks or building a cathedral? If you make a daily effort to find value in even the smallest of tasks you’re taking on, your sense of purpose will become much greater. And living with purpose – if even in your 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM job – will offer you much more fulfillment than simply laying bricks.

We invite you to join our team in finding ways to value the work you do with a strong and stable vision of the end result.

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Harvest Land Brings Home Ag Volunteer, Corporation of the Year

The Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce had their 2019 Annual Dinner last week and Harvest Land represented the agriculture industry well in front of a crowd of nearly 600. The annual event honors the top businesses, volunteers and community leaders.

Harvest Land’s own Danielle Baumer, Human Resources, won the award for Agribusiness Committee Volunteer of the Year.  The mission of the Agribusiness Committee is to promote agriculture as a major segment of the local economy, lead community efforts regarding agribusiness and economic development, and unite and network groups and activities to address issues important to agriculture.

We asked Danielle about the tremendous honor (she serves on the committee with ag lenders, business owners, insurance representatives, implement dealers, and more) and she had this to say:

I am honored to have received this award, especially within our county where agriculture is not only an essential part of our economy, but also the passion and livelihood of so many. It has been an absolute pleasure to serve on the Agribusiness committee; not only to advocate for Ag within our county (and beyond), but also to have the opportunity to meet so many new faces who also share the same love and passion for ag that many of us do here at Harvest Land Co-op. I am delighted to have the opportunity to assist in representing our Co-op alongside Lindsay, and hope to continue serving for many years to come.

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 Pictured with Baumer is Lee Elzmeyer, outgoing Chamber Board Chairman

Later in the evening, Harvest Land was named Corporation of the Year. This award represents the highest recognition given by the Chamber to a business/corporation. What an honor to be recognized as the business that most exemplifies being a good corporate citizen of the community.  We join a prestigious group of previous winners such as Reid Health, Belden, Hills Pet Nutrition, Richmond Baking and more. Since the award began in 1993, Harvest Land is the first agricultural company to be honored.

It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Chamber as 2019 Corporation of the Year. Much of our work in the last decade has been telling the story of agriculture to those who are not directly involved. Our relationship with the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce has supported those efforts greatly, and we very much appreciate being recognized amongst our peers. Harvest Land is nearly 100 years old, and we will continue to serve the east central Indiana community through our hard-working farmer-members for generations to come.  – Scott Logue, Harvest Land President/CEO

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Lindsay Sankey, Communications Manager, accepts the award for Corporation of the Year on behalf of Harvest Land

While our home base in Wayne County isn’t necessarily rural, a large part of our efforts on NW 5th Street is finding ways to educate the public about agriculture and continue our commitment to cultivating communities. We’re honored to be recognized, not only for our business operations in Wayne County but also through the outstanding people we employ.

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785 Years of Service

785 years.

That is the total number of years of service our 2018 honorees have dedicated to Harvest Land Co-op. Annually we recognize employees by five-year increments and thank them for their continued work on our cooperative’s behalf. At the Christmas party in December, we recognized the following individuals.

According to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2018,  the average number of years that wage and salary workers have worked for their current employer is currently 4.6 years. With that statistic, we’re quite proud to honor the following folks for their commitment to Harvest Land.

Note that not all honorees were in attendance. 

5
Five Years

Five Years of Service:

Teri Dunlavy Richmond
Kipp Huth Junction LP
Shannon Bodey Lena Ag
Sara Nave Lena Ag
Kyle Brooks Central Crops
Brigette Mauck North Crops-Durbin
Troy Bane YieldPro
Tim Hammond YieldPro
Curt Naylor Reg. Mgr./Seed
Garet Ribel Decatur
Cindy Kay Richmond Energy
Tim Gibbs Kalmbach
James Thompson Versailles
Nicole Pyott Risk Dept.
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Ten Years

Ten Years of Service:

Steve Miller West Liquid Fuels
Darren Klein Pershing
Jeff Riester Central Crops
Tiffany Miller Rushville
Robert Moore Rushville
David Williams Rushville
Mike Hartsock Rushville
John Rines Limberlost
Royce Kukelhan Limberlost
Joe Werling Williams
Dennis Mount Ohio Energy
Terry Miller Ohio Energy
15
Fifteen Years

Fifteen Years of Service:

Mike Klein Hagerstown
Lance Eyler Transportation
Mark Smith R&F
20
Twenty Years

Twenty Years of Service:

Vickie Fleenor Richmond
Duane Brooks Hagerstown
Henry Branscum Jr. Monroe LF
Mike Reed YieldPro
Bob Newhouse Director
25
Twenty-Five Years

Twenty-Five Years of Service:

Michael Chalfant Junction LP
Jay Scharnowske Junction LP
Tim Lanman Pershing
Ivan Brumbaugh Transportation
Greg Hayes Richmond LF
Jeff Osborn Richmond LP
Todd Duncan Ohio Energy
30
Thirty Years

Thirty Years of Service:

Susan Metzger Randolph Ag
Jamie Cressman Decatur
Brian Becker Director
Tom Tucker Director

Thirty-Five Years of Service:

Brent Stang West LF
David Taylor YieldPro
40
Forty Years

Forty Years of Service:

Mark Garretson North Crops
45
Forty-Five Years

And finally, Forty-Five Years of Service:

Stan Hicks Richmond

We asked Stan Hicks, our Chief Operations Officer, about his forty-five years at Harvest Land. Here are a few words from him:

“It’s been amazing to look back over the years and see how the farmers within our trade territory have banned together, consolidated their 19 co-ops into one very solid cooperative and established an organization that works for their long-term well-being in the agricultural community.”

 

“The Cooperative System has been for me, and many others, a long-term career in the field of agriculture when the means were not afforded to be a farmer that planted, harvested and marketed their own production.”

We offer sincere thanks to Stan and all others who celebrated another year with Harvest Land. We truly appreciate you.

 

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Indiana State Fair Featured Farmers: Wehr Farms

Harvest Land is quite fortunate to work with numerous outstanding family farm operations in Indiana and Ohio. Annually we look forward to learning who the State Fair Featured Farmers are, because there is a high probability we work closely with one of two of them.

What an honor to be named an Indiana State Fair Featured Farmer. In its fourth year, this program celebrates and helps put a face on Hoosier agriculture by connecting consumers with farmers. The 17 farm operations selected in 2018 represent all regions of the state, showcasing different agricultural products throughout the 17-day fair, August 3-19.

Visitors to the Indiana State Fair can attend a live chat at the Glass Barn with a Featured Farmer every day of the fair, in addition to many other opportunities to talk with that day’s Featured Farm family and learn about their operation.

On August 19 the Featured Farmer is Wehr Farms from Fayette County. Monica Wehr is a  former FieldTech intern for Harvest Land, and is currently an ACE participant. Monica has been an outstanding asset to our cooperative and we very much appreciate her work ethic and passion for production agriculture.

This week, we invite you to learn more about the Wehr sisters from Fayette County and their drive to manage the family farm despite loss.

Wehr Sisters Take Family Farm Reins and Move Forward

It’s said strength of character is measured by how one reacts to adverse events or actions. It’s about doing what’s right or ethical even when that is the most difficult path to take. For Wehr sisters Monica, 21, and Morgan, 18, a career in farming was always a possibility – a “some day in the future” career aspiration. A year ago, “some day” became today for the Connersville, Indiana, sisters who grew up on the family farm their grandfather founded in 1953 and their father later took over.

“Farming is something I’ve loved since I was little. I was always with my dad and my grandpa even when I probably should have been at home and out of their hair,” says Monica. “I never expected to be running the farm this soon, but everything happens for a reason I guess.”

When their father unexpectedly died in June of 2017, the young sisters found themselves running their family’s farm with the help of their grandmother.

 

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“With our grandpa and dad both gone, there was no other option for us than to continue our family legacy,” says Morgan. Their resiliency is apparent in their day-to-day management of the hay farm and cow-calf operation that includes three bulls and 50 head of Angus and Angus-Charolais cross cattle.

All cattle are bred and raised on the farm until calves reach about 500 pounds. They are then sold as feeder cattle to a neighboring farmer. “We turn the bulls out July 4 and have calves starting the second week of April. We have about 50 calves born each year,” says Monica.

“When we wean calves, we use some supplemental feed to add more nutrients to their diet,” she says. “We graze nine months out of the year. The cows are never contained. They roam the pasture at will.” She points out “Our cows have a pretty good life. Our cattle are never mistreated. Calves get to roam with their moms in the pasture, and they are fed the high-quality hay we produce.”

The sisters also farm 185 acres of alfalfa and orchard grass with the help of Mitchell Pohlar, Monica’s fiancée, who was raised on his family’s nearby farm and now spends his days working at the Wehr’s farm.

They feed some of the hay to their cattle and sell the rest to area farmers.  “We’ve had the same three hay buyers for the past four years. They know the quality of our hay, and they come back for more every year,” says Monica.

The Wehr sisters continue their formal studies as well.  Monica is a student at Wilmington College in Ohio and Morgan graduates from high school in 2018 and is headed to Oklahoma State University this fall where she plans to major in agricultural education, where her hands-on learning will no doubt be beneficial.

“We grew up farming, accompanying our dad and grandpa to the crop fields and to the pastures for a great education,” says Monica.

As they triumph over adversity, Morgan reflects on the example set for them.  “Dad, grandma and grandpa set us up for success. Grandma has spent many hard hours out on the tractor, too, over the years.”

 

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Source: Indiana State Fair

Who is Harvest Land?: Randal Reese

Our Salute to Service program allows us to recognize the cream of the crop, top-notch quality people working behind the scenes of Harvest Land to ensure we’re meeting our customers’ needs every single day. Every so often we will highlight an employee that works diligently to serve our members.

who is harvest land

Randal Reese is the Operations Manager, Crops Support and Feed Specialist at our Oakville Ag Center and has worked at Harvest Land for 40 years. That 4-0 is not a typo!

Randal Reese

His main responsibilities include covering all areas of our Oakville branch, located just south of Muncie, west of IN-3. “All areas” includes scheduling custom application, invoicing customers and selling feed. He’s also served on our Safety Committee for 12 years.

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Randal ensures customer fields are custom applied in a timely fashion and invoiced correctly. His organization and attention to detail greatly improves the customer experience for those who utilize our Oakville location.

Randal’s favorite part of his job with the co-op is working with good people.

Randal has been a participant of our Cultivating Communities program, and the organization he volunteers for is the First Brethren Church of Oakville. In his time outside work, Randal enjoys spending time with his beloved family.

 

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Who wouldn’t want to spend time with these kiddos?

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We recognize Randal because he was honored through our Salute to Service program, where he was nominated by four individuals for his outstanding customer service. In fact, he received the most nominations of any of our 300+ employees!

The nominations from customers are quite powerful. Take a look:

“I would like to nominate Randal Reese out of the Oakville location.  In growing sod we have different needs for fertilizers, or time of applications. Since we are spreading on 800+ acres of turf we do most all our selves, with a tractor and cart on flotation/turf tires. Randal and I communicate almost weekly on what our needs will be the next week. I try and maximize the applications in conjunction with the next rain fall. By talking with Randal regularly he can maintain adequate inventory of our most used product 46-0-0. Over the years, since the decision of moving all bulk dry fertilizers to Mt Summit, it has presented some challenges to get the product and have delivered on time where we need it. (some of these acres get fertilized every 6-8 weeks) Randal and your delivery people have generally made it happen.” – Robert Sharpe, Ameri-Turf GMgr, Anderson, IN

“I would like to nominate Randal Reese, the Operations Manager at Oakville, Indiana. I am a math teacher and farm a little bit part time. I buy fertilizer, Kent Feeds, Ritchie Waterer Parts, and Seed from Oakville (none of it in large quantities). Randal always is professional, courteous, and cares (about people and his job).  Even though I am a small time farmer, Randal makes me feel like he appreciates my business and me as a person. He keeps Oakville organized and running smoothly.  I believe Randal has been at that location for over 40 years (previously Farmer’s Co-op Oakville). Anyway, I do not think you could have a better employee or upstanding member of the community.  Whenever Mr. Reese retires from Oakville, he will be extremely difficult to replace.  I think he should win the Salute to Service Award! – Jason Hunt

“Randal is very professional and goes out of his way to help with whatever I need. I am a small farmer, but you could never tell that by the way he treats me and conducts business. I wanted to drill a cover crop, but couldn’t with the equipment I had available. Within an hour Randal had everything ready for me and I was able to operate. Outstanding employee!” – Jesse Landess

I am writing about an employee (Randal Reese) that has worked above and beyond his jobs yearly.  He is the voice at the Oakville office that answers when you call for any service.  He’s always willing to do the extra job to answer your question.  He is always an upbeat person no matter how hard a day he has had.  When he retires Harvest Land will not find it easy to replace this star employee. My husband and I have farmed for 48 years and he has always been our guy to go to when we needed help.” – Tim and Carol Spangler

Reese and Queen
Randal with miss Lora McDaniel in the Delaware County 4-H Queen Contest where she was crowned second runner up.

Randal is a fantastic asset on our team and the nominations he received from customers are a testament to that. His work ethic and commitment to meet every customer need really make him stand out in our agronomy business.

Finally, we asked Randal what three words he would use to describe Harvest Land. His response:

Great Employee Group

Those of us who work with – and know – Randal would agree that he’s one big reason why our employee group is, in fact, great.

 

 

You can submit entries for our 2018 Salute to Service contest by emailing  nominations@harvestlandcoop.com or contact our President/CEO, Scott Logue at 765.962.1527.

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Who is Harvest Land: Michele Robinson

Harvest Land has a lot of quality people working behind the scenes to ensure we’re meeting our customers’ needs every single day. Every so often we will highlight an employee that works diligently to serve our members.who is harvest land_Robinson

Michele is the Tax Accountant in our Richmond Administrative office and has worked at Harvest Land for five and a half years. Her main responsibilities include management of fuel margins, fixed assets, inventory, seed product entry and census reporting.

While he role doesn’t plant her at an ag center or in a fuel truck working face-to-face with our customers, Michele helps keep prices down for our members by watching the bottom line. Think spreadsheets. Lots and lots of spreadsheets.

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Michele’s favorite part of her job with the co-op is resolving problems and assisting others.

What three words would she use to describe Harvest Land?

  1. Forward thinking
  2. Altruistic
  3. Community

Michele is an active participant of our Cultivating Communities program, and the organization she volunteers for is Amigos, The Richmond Latino Center, Inc.. In her time outside work, Michele enjoys golf in the summer and swimming in the winter months.

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Here, Michele is pictured with her daughters, Myra, left, and Bridget on the right. Any Twilight fans out there? An interesting note about this photo, told by Michele:
They filmed the “Police Station” scenes from the Twilight movies at this Wauna Federal Credit Union building in Vernonia, Oregon. I grew up, Jr High and High School, in Vernonia and worked in this building when it was first built after graduating from high school in 1980.  At the time it was Farmers & Merchants Bank.  I recognized the inside of the building when watching the movie and from the scenery I could tell it was filmed in the Pacific Northwest. My daughters didn’t believe me at first but I had saved the newspaper article from the 1980’s when the bank opened, they agreed after seeing the pictures. I eventually confirmed with my sister, who still lives outside of Vernonia, that they had basically closed down the whole town, population 2500, when filming there for a week or so. 

Michele was voted second place in our 2017 Salute to Service program, where she was nominated by Sam Andrews of Dot Transportation for her outstanding work. Check out what Sam had to say about her:

I have been with Dot Transportation in Cambridge City, IN since the day we started construction of our building and have had countless experiences I could share about the great employees at Harvest Land. From the days when Mike Munchel came out twice per week to fill 10 reefer trailers in the freezing cold to today where we purchase over $3 million worth of diesel annually. I do have one extra special story about an exceptional employee you have that I want to share. Her name is Michele Robinson. Michele called me one day a while back and shared that she thought we are paying a fuel tax from which we were exempt. I shared that information with our Dot Accounting group and they were positive she was wrong … but Michele was persistent and insistent. She and I exchanged several emails and finally she said “would it be OK if I talked to someone in your account department?” She worked with our accounting group to help them understand the exemption. She didn’t have to. There was nothing in it for her or for Harvest Land. She could have let it go when we said “we think you’re wrong”, but she didn’t. Her persistence saved Dot Transportation over $400,000 in current year and past year taxes and continues to save us money today. Michele had also shared with us that she thought we could go back to previous years and get a tax rebate. She was right…again. She worked with Dot’s accounting group and helped us get through the red tape. This was the largest money saving project in the company that year …. And it would never have happened without Michele giving me a call that day. What I have always found amazing is that there was no benefit to her. No benefit to Harvest Land. She did it out of her outstanding commitment to doing the right thing for the customer. Its because of folks like Michele that I wouldn’t even consider buying our diesel from any other supplier. Thanks Michele and thanks Harvest Land for being a great business partner.

Submitted by Sam Andrews, Dot Transportation

We very much enjoy having Michele as part of our team because of her compassion for others, her outstanding work ethic and persistence to do her job quite well.

 

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Who is Harvest Land?: Tammie Fox

Harvest Land has a lot of quality people working behind the scenes to ensure we’re meeting our customers’ needs every single day. Every so often we will highlight an employee that works diligently to serve our members.

who is harvest land

Tammie is the Receptionist/Credit Assistant in our Richmond Administrative office and has worked at Harvest Land for eight years. If you’ve ever called this office and hung up thinking, “That was the nicest person I’ve ever talked to in customer service,” you probably talked to Tammie……more on that, below.

Tammie fox

Her main responsibilities include answering phones,  entering in customer payments and  addressing commercial delinquents. Tammie assists with any questions members may have on billing, payment or new accounts. She then directs them to the appropriate place if she cannot answer their question.

Tammie’s favorite part of her job with the co-op is “getting to work with all the amazing people at Harvest Land and all of our members”.

What three words would she use to describe Harvest Land?

  1.  Knowledgeable
  2. Courteous
  3. Helpful

Tammie is an active participant of our Cultivating Communities program, and the organization she volunteers for is the American Legion Auxiliary where she runs the concession stand at the Richmond Fireworks. In her time outside work, Tammie enjoys bowling,  throwing darts and spending time with family and friends whenever she can.

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Tammie (left) and her family

Earlier this month Tammie was honored through our Salute to Service program where she was nominated by three individuals for her outstanding customer service. Check out what Harvest Land customers had to say about her:

“Tammie at your front desk is just about the nicest and most helpful person I think I’ve ever dealt with. Always happy, nice, jubilant and willing to help with any questions I’ve ever had about my account with Harvest Land. She is also very knowledgeable about her job and I think she deserves the nomination.” – Mike Adkins, Road ReadyTammie Fox3

“I am an oil customer of Harvest Land’s and had trouble with my bill. Tammie at the front desk was so pleasant to work with as we got the issue straightened out. She helped me understand how the invoicing works and made me feel much better about the situation. She sure helped me a lot and was very curtious. ” – Rita Gabbard

“In today’s world of automated phones, it is such a pleasure to talk with Tammie Fox each time I call.  I have never met Tammie in person, but always recognize her friendly voice and wonderful laugh.  I always hang up with not only all my questions answered, but also with a smile on my face. If Tammie has ever had a “bad” day at work, no customer would ever know because of the pleasant and professional way she answers the phone.  In addition to all her required job skills, her phone skills are outstanding.  I am sure that any highly stressed customer who calls also has a smile on their face when they hang up the phone. As it often does, one question may lead to more questions.  Tammie has always been able not only to answer them all, but has never made me feel like my question were ever “dumb” (but I am sure many were).  Being raised in the city is so different from the country. Tammie needs to be recognized for a job ALWAYS well done and her excellent communication and people skills.  Tammie is truly an outstanding asset to Harvest Land.  If anyone deserves a cash prize and 2 vacation days, Tammie Fox is the one!!!” – Rita Mitchell, Ossian, IN

Tammie is a fantastic asset on our team and the nominations she received from customers are a testament to that. Her work ethic and positive attitude make her an outstanding  coworker in our Richmond office. Next time you call our Richmond office, be sure to say hello to Tammie!

 

 

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