andyheadshotThe 2015 planting and growing season has been challenging due to the wet weather patterns we’ve been experiencing across our footprint. Managing farming operations in order to cope with changes in weather is always a priority for our growers. We’ve all heard that the “best offense is a good defense,” and I think this statement applies to our industry. The best way to cope with change is to expect it and to be nimble and agile enough to make the necessary changes for the better.

A good example of how change and advancements have helped our farmers is the strides in technology in planting and harvesting in the past decade. What used to take nearly a month to complete, has now been slashed nearly in half.

We understand that change can be scary. Looking back, when we chose to close the Genoa facility, there were some members who were opposed to this change. However, the economics didn’t support keeping that location open, due to the declining number of farmers in that

area and the close proximity of the Curtice and Leymone locations. We made improvements to Curtice and Leymone to bring our members better service, many concerns were alleviated, and our cooperative has only gotten stronger.

Last year the board and I were discussing how to stay nimble, and what our liquid fertilizer “offense” would be for staying on top of the speed and technology needed for a condensed planting season. After analyzing our agronomy operations, noting that we have many tanks located within a five-mile radius and 85% of our liquid nitrogen chemicals are custom applied, we asked ourselves if having this many tanks across our footprint still made sense. The answer was “no.” So, we conceived the idea of a central bulk liquid fertilizer and chemical warehouse. Looking at our footprint, we decided to build at Graytown because it is the center of Ottawa County and is central to the majority of our members.

With the opening of the new Graytown facility, we will be slowly discontinuing service on the remaining 50 plus tanks we still maintain at our other locations, over the next year. We know this will present a change for some of our members and we understand that adapting to change isn’t always easy. However, I want to assure you that we are committed to providing you with the exemplary customer service that you have come to expect from us. You have trusted us through other changes we have made with our operations, like the Genoa closure, and we are confident that this decision has truly risen the bar of our agronomy operations.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to stop by and check the new facility out. Later this summer we will hold meetings in small groups and/or one-on-one settings with those members that will be impacted. We will answer any questions you have and assist you with any information you need, to understand better as to why we made this change and what it means going forward.

Lastly, on a personal note, I recommend reading a book by Spencer Johnson titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” It discusses ways to deal with change in the workplace and in our personal lives. It has helped me cope with change, as it explains the human reaction to change and why we deal with changes in certain ways. If you don’t have time to read the book, there is also a short YouTube video, which explains the book very well.

As always, my door is always open and I wish everyone a safe and prosperous summer.