Retail Facility ‘Snowflakes’

Retail Facility ‘Snowflakes’

In nature, there is a long-held belief that no two snowflakes are alike. According to most meteorologists, these “points of uniqueness” come about because of myriad factors, including air temperature, moisture content, and the size of the dust particle that sits at the heart of each and every snowflake crystal.

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In the ag retail world, this “no two are exactly alike” ideal tends to appear when looking at your average facility. In my almost 20 years covering this marketplace, I’ve visited dozens of ag retail outlets — and seen photographs of hundreds more. And while some of these definitely have the same general look, closer examination will inevitably reveal major (or at least minor) points of uniqueness, just like closely examining snowflakes reveal differences.

In fact, it’s partially in this spirit that CropLife® magazine first began publishing our annual Facilities Report four years ago. True, a big part of our motivation for introducing this special outsert to our regular magazine (and online slideshows) was to allow the various building providers and equipment manufacturers for ag retailers to highlight their showplace industry works, since our annual CropLife 100 survey of ag retailers showed there was a strong and sustained trend when it came to this part of the marketplace.

But to me, it’s the specialness of each and every one of the ag retail facilities being featured in the Facilities Report that deserves some kind of recognition. And as you make your way through the slideshows (and pages of the print publication) and read about each of these showplace outlets, you will realize that not only is each facility unique, but the reasons behind its appearance here is as well.

In some cases, the facilities are brand new, representing an aggressive expansion policy by an up-and-coming ag retailer. For example, the Wayland, MI, outlet of Green Valley Agricultural dates back only a few years, to 2014. In design, the facility has the look of a modern ag retailer, with its grounds laid out in an efficient square pattern to maximize traffic flow through the outlet. As for the main building, this was designed to call to mind a red barn — reflecting the company’s commitment to “the growers who we serve and make this industry great,” says John Christian, President.

In addition to this, the Green Valley Wayland outlet also features several “points of uniqueness,” just like a snowflake. For instance, part of the company’s energy supply comes from a closed loop boiler. This is then utilized to provide heat to the fertilizer warehouse floor.

Of course, by their nature, new facilities such as Green Valley Wayland always tend to feature interesting and innovative options. However, there are also several older facilities that have been upgraded in this report that are just as unique in their own right.

For example, take the case of Greg’s Feed & Seed outlet in South Wayne, WI. I remember visiting this facility myself back in the early 2000s, when the outlet was a recipient of a regional award in the annual Environmental Respect Award program, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection. The company’s then President, Greg Seffrood, was understandably proud to receive this honor compared with all the other nominees from across the nation’s Midwestern states. “Our facility has been here a very long time, and to be recognized for our stewardship accomplishments is a really big deal,” said Seffrood.

But being named one of the country’s top ag retailers apparently wasn’t the end of the story for Greg’s Feed & Seed. As you will read in this report, the South Wayne outlet recently installed a new storage option for its dry fertilizer needs. “This building increased the storage capacity of our existing retail operation and allows us to serve our customers more efficiently,” said Greg’s Feed & Seed spokesperson Joe Kennicker.

So with this upgrade, the South Wayne facility can now accomplish three important goals — better protect its dry fertilizer inventory, maintain its environmentally stewardship standing in the local community, and continue serving its grower-customers without building an entirely new outlet.

Completely new showplace facilities. Upgrades to older facilities to improve their ability to service customers in 2017. All of these are featured here, each with several points of uniqueness compared with all the other ag retail outlets spread out across the country. Just like snowflakes, no two facilities are exactly alike, with each having its own story to tell.

I hope you enjoy the ones presented in the slideshows listed below (and the July print report) and find them informative and useful if you find yourself looking to build new or upgrade old outlets in the near future!

Facility Slideshows

Be sure to view these slideshows of ag retail facilities throughout the country: