Kyle Jones, a 22-year custom applicator with Heartland Coop in Slater, IA, was named as the 2008 Ag-Chem Operator of the Year during this year’s Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) annual convention in Austin, TX.
Recognizing the importance of honoring the unsung contributors in a successful application business, the Ag-Chem Operator of the Year program (http://operators.agchem.com) was introduced in 2006. This program acknowledges that one of the most difficult things for an ag retail business is finding good operators, and seeks to recognize the top professionals in the field.
“Kyle is simply a great custom applicator,” says Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for the AGCO Application Equipment division. “Everyone has talked about how reliable Kyle is, and how his customers never have to worry about their fields. He works efficiently, and is willing to work the long hours that are required for today’s operators. When soliciting applications for Operator of the Year we’re looking for someone who truly loves their job and takes great pride in doing it exceptionally well – and Kyle certainly fits that mold.”
Jones covers an average of 44,000 acres each year between fertilizing and spraying fields. He started in custom application because he enjoys the work, being in the field, and working with the customers. He prides himself in treating each field as a unique piece of land, knowing each waterway, terrace, and wet spot, and that’s the type of attention to detail that led to his selection. “Whether it’s a square 100 acres, or a rough, terraced farm, he makes them his top priority,” says nominator Brad Essick, location manager at Heartland Coop.
Essick says he nominated Jones for the Operator of the Year because of his reliability. “I’m at work by 6 a.m., and Kyle is already here, waiting for the orders for the day,” he says. “He gets his work done in a timely manner, and when I say timely, I also mean that he gets the field work done efficiently and the way it is supposed to be done. This past year he sprayed 44,000 acres and I didn’t have one customer complaint about the job he did. To me that epitomizes a quality applicator.”
And, Jones is willing to go when called, even on his days off. Essick recalls one particular Saturday afternoon when he received a call from a customer who needed his beans sprayed a second time. Rain was in the forecast for the next week, and Jones was roofing his home that day. “I knew he was doing a big job at home,” Essick says. “I called him anyway. The only thing he said was: ‘I’ll be there in 10 minutes.’ That’s the kind of service he gives all customers at Heartland Coop.”
Jones says that he is a good applicator because he’s a perfectionist and can be a workaholic who isn’t afraid of logging a lot of hours. “To be a good applicator you have to be meticulous in the field. My goal in every field is to use the entire product without running out before the field is completed. That can be a very fine line,” he says.
Along with working at the coop, Jones farms and raises cattle. He’s an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time with his family, including his two sons Curt, 23, and Brent, 21.
The other finalists for the 2008 Ag-Chem Operator of the Year program were: Donald Suflow, Cargill Inc., Maynard, MN.; Randy Archer, Bollmeyer Inc., Hinton, IA; and Michael Grube, Valley Agronomics LLC, Ashton, ID. All attended the 2008 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference and Expo, Dec. 2-4 in Austin.
For additional information about the Operator of the Year program and the Ag-Chem line of application equipment visit www.agchem.com.