People Power

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In my more than 20 years of trade journalism, it’s rare a month has gone by without some key industry executive touting the importance of people to their organization. The comment typically goes something like this: “People are our greatest asset,” says the executive. “Without their hard work and dedication to our corporate vision, our company wouldn’t be successful and stay in business.” Most then go on to say that their company has an employee recognition program of some kind in place to acknowledge these outstanding individuals for their efforts.

For many ag retailers, the people part of the equation normally involves custom applicators. These individuals are both company ambassadors and service providers to numerous grower-customers. In a busy season, these workhorses of the big rigs will put in many long hours applying fertilizer or crop protection products to hundreds (or thousands) of acres of farmland.

A few years ago, equipment manufacturer AGCO Corp. began a recognition program for exceptional custom applicators. Called the Ag-Chem Operator of the Year, the program honors many custom applicators on an annual basis based upon nominations from their respective employers. In the end, one individual is awarded a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the top custom applicator of the year.

“When I look at the winners over the past four years, there are two common threads,” says Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for AGCO Application Equipment Division. “First, the operators themselves are conscientious, self-starting, self-reliant individuals who are driven to deliver results for their customers and – in turn – their companies. Second, and equally important, they work for organizations that foster an environment that enables them to achieve the highest level of performance and professionalism.”

Now through the end of the month, AGCO is accepting nominations for the 2010 Operator of Year contest, with the winner to be announced at the annual Ag Retailers Association meeting in early December. If you would like to enter one of your custom applicators, please visit www.applylikeapro.com.

Sfiligoj is the Editor for both CropLife and CropLife IRON magazines. He travels regularly to cover industry events and has been dedicated to the ag retail industry since he joined the staff in 2000.

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