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
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More
AGCO Operator of the Year Tony Kornder
SprayersAGCO Names Tony Kornder Operator Of The Year
December 1, 2016
AGCO Corp. names Tony Kornder with Genesis Growing Solutions in Le Sueur, MN, the 11th annual Operator of the Year. Read More
Chris Henney OABA
ManagementOABA Industry Conference To Provide Outlook For Future …
November 29, 2016
The upcoming Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is packed with widely-respected speakers and industry professionals, sharing their expertise on a Read More
Corn
InsecticidesMajor Review Finds Neonic Poses Low Risk To Aquatic Inv…
November 28, 2016
A major new ecotoxicological review and risk assessment has been published in the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that registered crop Read More
EquipmentGSI Details New Grain Drying Efficiency System for Coop…
November 28, 2016
Grain elevators and ag co-ops are always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency to help improve profitability. For Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More