One Last Look Back

As the calendar gets ready to turn, I’m certain many folks in the ag retail industry are looking back at 2009 and remembering what they lost during this most turbulent year. By now, you’ve probably seen all the key headlines from what analysts are calling The Great Recession. Massive inventory write-downs, lost sales volume, and depressed margins have affected many in the marketplace. I’m certain once the page flips to 2010, most of these individuals will be celebrating, if for no other reason than having survived to do business for another year.

For myself, however, I will be remembering the non-survivors of 2009 as the new year comes around. I’ve covered this business for almost a full decade now and I can’t remember another year where so many fine industry leaders and legends left us to carry on without them. Of course, the biggest individual to go in 2009 – at least in terms of impact – was Dr. Norman Borlaug, the father of the green revolution. By most conservative accounts, Borlaug’s revolutionary approaches to agriculture have been responsible for saving more than 1 billion lives. On the association side, the Agricultural Retailers Association lost its leader, Jack Eberspacher. Leading the group since 2001, Eberspacher is credited with turning the association around in terms of finances and political influence.

While I knew both Borlaug (by reputation) and Eberspacher (through occasional contact), two other deaths affected me more personally in 2009. One was Mike Turner, head of the Wisconsin Crop Protection Association. When I first met Mike in 2005, it was clear he had big plans for his trade group and its roll in shaping legislative policy for member companies. Mike could be a tough debater. But he had a softer side as well, writing children’s books in his spare time.

Then there was Bob Mills. A long-time fixture at tender manufacturer Ray-Man, Bob was fun-loving and jovial at industry events. He once gave me a business card listing his credentials, including “emptying saloons and selling swamp land.” But Bob could also be serious when the situation called for it. Often when I was writing a story on ag retail equipment, Bob would provide me with insider information or a quote that “told it like it is.”

In one sense, I’m glad I got to spend parts of the last 10 years getting to know these industry friends and learn more about them. They helped me find my way through my “new guy” learning curve and provided many pearls of valuable wisdom I will take with me into 2010 and beyond.

It’s a shame they all couldn’t be here for just a little while longer.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
ManagementWashington Visit and Bayer/Monsanto Deal Update
May 26, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discusses a recent trip to DC and the latest news on the proposed pairing Read More
Fertilizer closeup in hand
Industry NewsVerdesian: Striking A Balance Between Yield & ROI
May 26, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More