Raven Rolls Along

There’s an old saying from boxing that tells participants to “roll with the punches.” In other words, individuals should be flexible to whatever unexpected hits come their way.

Apparently, the folks at Raven Industries are experts in this department. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the company’s annual Tech Conference, held in Raven’s home city of Sioux Falls, SD. The event, which typically draws more than 100 participants, consists of equal parts classroom sessions on the latest company technology and in-the-field demonstrations spread out over two days.

Now according to the Tech Conference’s original agenda, the first morning of the event was to be the Ride-and-Drive portion at the company’s field site just north of the city. However, the night before, a massive thunderstorm came through the area. Along with plenty of high winds and lightning, this storm reportedly dumped five inches of rain on Sioux Falls. Needless to say, Raven’s field suffered plenty of wind damage and was pretty saturated the next morning.

But instead of panic, Raven’s event organizers calmly re-shuffled the schedule, moving the classroom sessions from the field tents to dry hotel rooms. They also managed to get the group’s lunch, originally slated to be held on the field grounds, to be served instead in the hotel lobby.

By the early afternoon, Raven’s field was dry enough that the group was able to get its Ride-and-Drive sessions in after all. “It was all in a day’s work,” said Jessica DeJong, marketing communications coordinator, Applied Technology Division for the company of her team’s efforts.

Count me as one of those who was thoroughly impressed nonetheless. In over 20 years of covering industry events for trade magazines, I’ve seen many events thrown into complete chaos as something unexpected occurred (such as a loss of power, which also was the case at Raven’s host hotel the morning after the storm!). Yet, the Tech Conference’s organizers “rolled with the punches,” changing their plans as needed without the least hint of panic.

Now I’ve heard from several industry sources that Raven is one of the most progressive companies in the precision ag field, with a well-earned reputation for innovation. It seems the company is also pretty good at adapting to the unexpected as well.

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