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.
After 44 years of service to our cooperative system, Bob Dubach is retiring from Harvest Land today. Bob has been an incredible asset to our team and has become a familiar face around the northern part of our territory while delivering fuel to businesses and homes for decades. Bob’s commitment to quality customer service has been evident throughout his entire career. His service has encompassed the cooperative spirit: helping others beyond yourself.
A personal note from Bob:
After 44 years with the co-op and 34 years of delivering petroleum products, I have decided to retire. I want to take this time to thank each of you for allowing me to take care of your petroleum needs. Through the years we have developed some wonderful relationships. Some go back many years. I can remember my father doing business with your fathers. And with route changes, some not as long. Whatever the case, I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know each of you.
I feel truly blessed for my family, my health, and the job I had. The years have passed quickly. I am happy to inform you that Adam will be taking over the route in your area and is ready to get to know and meet your petroleum needs. Thank you again for the years you have allowed me to be your petroleum route salesman.
Bob is a bit of a historian and has kept photo records of the fuel trucks not only he – but also his father – has driven throughout the decades. We thought these photos were quite telling, not only of the change that these men have seen in the many years they’ve dedicated to fuel delivery throughout the co-op system, but also the value in a job you enjoy. This week, as Bob closes out his career with the co-op, we invite you to open his fuel family scrapbook and enjoy a few photos from the years gone by.
We thank Bob for his incredible 44 years of service. There is something to be said for a man who remains committed to a job through many changes, inclimate weather, volatile markets and so much more. We say with great confidence that our cooperative is a better place because of his commitment and pride in the work.
If you’re interested in a career with Harvest Land, we invite you to visit our website and review the opportunities before you.
Earlier this week a couple employees from our Richmond administrative office set out to do something no one else had ever done before. Or, at least not in a long, long time.
They cleaned out and organized part of the back warehouse.
They spent four hours sorting through boxes, binders, shelves and stacks, looking for things that were no longer needed to run our cooperative business. These things had perhaps fallen into the category of “out of sight, out of mind”, where it’s easier to work around them than address them.
A wonderful general attribute of people in agriculture is that we hang on to things because we think someday we’ll need them.
A poor general attribute of people in agriculture is that we hang on to things because we think someday we’ll need them.
There was just a lot of stuff to sort through.
Trash barrel by trash barrel, the Two Tossers began to find shelves and walls that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. They reduced stacks, tore down empty boxes and made room for more current things. They tossed tattered pieces, obsolete technology, used carpet and broken boards, then swept elevator flooring that hasn’t been touched in years.
You see, our administrative office in Richmond hasn’t been an operational grain elevator in more than a decade, and it’s been even longer since the feed mill was in operation. It has been a long, long time since these floors saw steel toe boots and stray kernels of corn.
As the Two Tossers worked through the hours, they thought many times: Why would anyone keep this?
The cleaning out of the warehouse reminded us that we’re in between two generational shifts today: Baby Boomers (defined as those born between 1946 and 1964) who are eager to pass on family heirlooms as they downsize their space and a new crop of Millennials (defined as those born between 1982 and 2004) who prefer more tech-savy homes and perhaps more adventure.
Point in case: How many tiny house dwellers have you seen living with great-grandma’s full china set? Not many.
While many broken, unusable pieces were tossed, the functional, “let’s clean this up rather than buy new” mindset of the co-op (and those in ag) prevailed as things were cleaned, organized and put back on a sturdy shelf.
It should be noted: Nothing of value or that which held any historical significance to Harvest Land was thrown away. Of the Two Tossers, one is very much a “keeper” and is a historian by nature.
As the day winded down and emails beckoned the Two Tossers back to their desks, they put down the dock door, shut off the lights and locked up the warehouse for the evening.
But not before one Tosser paused to ponder this question:
What area of my life or farm needs some
time, attention and clean-up (literally or figuratively)
to ensure I’m in the best working order?
What about you?
Are there areas of your life that are “out of sight, out of mind”, that could actually use some attention?
This could be a part of the shop that needs organized, a relationship that needs some mending, a phone call that needs to be made or even a drawer that needs cleaned out.
October is National Cooperative Month and the perfect time – as we roll into another harvest season at each of our ag centers – to highlight what makes our business so unique.
The national theme for Cooperative Month this year is “Cooperatives Commit.” By committing to education, sustainability, community, and members, our cooperative provides a strong foundation that improves the lives of our members and others in the area.
Cooperatives are found in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, retail, utilities, housing, banking (credit unions), healthcare, and childcare. Blue Diamond, Ocean Spray, Land O’Lakes and Sunkist are all cooperatives you may be familiar with at the grocery store. U.S. cooperatives actually provide more than 850,000 jobs, resulting in $25 billion in annual wages. There are more than 40,000 cooperative businesses in America, serving 350 million people.
Harvest Land, your local farmer-owned cooperative, employees more than 300 people and is owned by 5,500 farmers in Indiana and Ohio.
Despite a wide variety of products and services provided to their members, all cooperatives follow seven universal principles, first adopted in Rochdale, England, in the mid-1800s. These are:
Voluntary and open membership: Cooperative membership is open to all who are able to use its products and services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership.
Democratic member control: Cooperatives are controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
Members’ economic participation: Members contribute equally to the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative.
Autonomy and independence. Each cooperative is managed by an independent board elected from its membership, and decisions are made that democratically benefit its members. We have nine Board members, representing all areas of our trade territory.
Education, training, and information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, managers, and employees, as well as information to the general public about the benefits of cooperatives and the products and services they provide. Our Winter Innovation Forum is a fantastic example of this principle.
Cooperation among cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures. Land O’Lakes, CountryMark and Growmark are just a few larger cooperatives that Harvest Land is a member of.
Concern for community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members. Our Cultivating Communities program proves this principle, tried and true.
We offer a sincere thanks for your continued business with our farmer-owned cooperative. October may be National Cooperative Month, but every day we’re working to provide quality products and services created to serve your family.
After 27 inches of rain in the last 31 days for some parts of our trade territory, there is nothing like waking up to this forecast earlier this week:
As we recover from another shower, we wanted to share with you a video from one of our customers, Alan Bays.
Four generations of Bays have used Harvest Land’s service and products, forming a business relationship that spans fifty years. Excellent reliability with fuels, competitive pricing, available purchasing options and a knowledgeable team are all qualities on which the Bays family relies on Harvest Land.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Bays were the cover family of our 2012 Annual Report.
Brian Bays once said of the family’s history with Harvest Land:
“With Harvest Land we’ve sustained a very long-term, business relationship that has provided quality supplies and price-competitive opportunities. We’ve consistently had good relationships with Harvest Land employees, and they always strive to provide solutions for our operation.” -Brian Bays
The Lapel area, where the Bays farm, has gotten the brunt of the 2017 torrential rains. It seems that if a shower hits Indiana, it’s sure to hit their farm.
But, there is still hope.
We invite you to take a look at this inspiring video from Alan, brother of Brian:
We are so proud to be a small part of Bays’ family operation.
Our logo represents nearly one hundred years of history and mergers that have lead to our current, strong cooperative business. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always represent the progressive and innovative business we share with our members. As our business grows and evolves to meet growing customer demands, so should our brand and logo.
In this Friday’s edition of Trust & Traction, we proudly introduce you to the new Harvest Land logo:
You’ll soon begin to see this logo used more and more throughout our business and in communications. The replacement of all logos on locations and equipment will happen over a span of time, so don’t be surprised if you spot a former Harvest Land logo while out and about. This logo replacement will take place in several phases.
Our purpose statement, Cultivating Communities, is now included in the new logo and refers to the commitment, value, conservation and service we provide in the rural and urban communities in which we work and live.
Understand that our business structure or services have not changed, simply our cooperative logo. We thank you for the partnership you have with Harvest Land and look forward to working with you in the year ahead.
A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.
His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were
a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)
I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.
It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.
One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.
One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.
One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.
All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.
All three never turned down a job.
Sweeping the shop floor
Tying feed sacks
Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
Delivering meals to the field
Cleaning up after meetings or guests
Taking out the trash
Sweeping out bins
Working in the pit
Loading trucks with bagged feed
Making parts runs
These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.
“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”
What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?
What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.
Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.
But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way.
We believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.
Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.
We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.
And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.
Years ago – we’re talking long before weather maps were kept on cell phones in pockets – folks relied on working together to defend their land, hunt, produce and gather food and create shelters and clothing. It was their cooperative spirit, one that encouraged working together to achieve a common goal, that allowed the people to create more, support larger groups and elevate success as culture evolved. It was through information sharing that early societies were able to triumph through the most arduous times.
At Harvest Land Co-op, we’ve never forgotten that cooperative spirit. In fact, it’s the very fabric of our business.
Our cooperative is unique from many businesses in that nearly 5,000 farmers who have made their homes in Indiana and Ohio own us. Together they collaborate for our success by utilizing Harvest Land’s services, sourced products and expert employees. Continued investment in our farmer-owned cooperative ensures the longevity of such a system that welcomes and serves so many.
This blog was created as a resource for our members and also those with whom we share communities. We want to use this space to answer questions about what our cooperative does, explain why we’re so passionate about land and resource conservation and share our steadfast belief in creating a responsible food system (speaking of food systems: don’t forget to pick up milk after work).
Join us on this expedition and come back weekly as we dig deeper to the roots of Harvest Land Co-op and the many fibers that make our cooperative spirit sturdy, nearly 100 years after our inception.