Operator Of The Year: Heartland’s Best

Mark Sharitz, AGCO, Kyle Jones, Heartland

By all accounts, Kyle Jones, a custom applicator with Heartland Coop in Slater, IA, is not your typical worker. In fact, he has always shown a willingness to go the extra mile.

According to his Location Manager Brad Essick, Jones sometimes does his job by sacrificing his own work. “One particular Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a customer who needed his beans sprayed a second time,” said Essick. “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, but I called him anyway. The only thing he said was ‘I’ll be there in 10 minutes.’”

It is for this kind of devotion to his job that Jones was awarded the 2008 Ag-Chem Operator of the Year honors at the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting. The award, which seeks to recognize the top professionals in the custom application field, has been given by Ag-Chem since 2006.

In his own mind, Jones is just doing his job. “It’s hard to imagine that I’m up here being rewarded for something I’ve enjoyed doing for the past 25 years of my life,” said Jones. “I feel awfully special. It’s a real nice honor to be given this award.”

Covering A Lot Of Ground

Jones covers an average of 44,000 acres each year between fertilizing and spraying fields. He prides himself in treating each field as a unique piece of land, knowing each waterway, terrace, and wet spot. When he’s not in the field, Jones keeps busy with farming, raising cattle, and spending time with his family, including his two sons Curt, 23, and Brent, 21. He says that he is an avid outdoorsman.

“Kyle is simply a great custom applicator,” said Mark Sharitz, director of marketing for the AGCO Application Equipment Division. “Everyone has talked about how reliable he 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.”

In addition to receiving an award plaque, Jones also received a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle. “It’s a real nice bike,” said Jones, seeing his new prize for the first time. “I’ll really like riding it.”

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