Building New Ag Retail Facilities: Pride in a Job Well Done

I remember when I moved into my first house. Like many first homes, this one needed quite a bit of maintenance and repair work to be “finished.” One of my first tasks was to install a ceiling fan in the home’s master bedroom (primarily as a by-product of not having central air).

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Now I had never, ever tried to put in anything remotely electrical in a house before — and certainly nothing as potentially complicated as a ceiling fan. Regardless, I gave it the old “college try” (since I had just recently graduated from college at the time). After six hours of trial-and-error starts and stops, I distinctly remember tightening the last screw, getting down off the ladder, and slowly walking over to the “on” switch on the far bedroom wall. Crossing the fingers on my free hand, I flipped the switch — and the ceiling fan began working! Better still, after several minutes of running, no fan blades had flown off across the room, and no smoke was pouring forth from the motor. Something I had taken from several pieces on the floor had been put together and worked. I was elated!

For the next dozen years or so of living in that house, whenever visitors would stop by, I would always take the time to “show” them the master bedroom, being sure to point out the “nice-looking” ceiling fan along the way. This was a source of pride for me in a job well done!

The reason I bring up this example is simple: Everyone takes pride in a job well done. People that enjoy their work regularly also like to brag about their accomplishments, either directly or in more subtle ways. In fact, this is part of the reason why CropLife® magazine in 2014 first started looking at showplace ag retail facilities — to allow the major ag retail facility builders/suppliers and their customers a chance to highlight what they consider some of their best work. And this sense of pride can extend across all kinds of outlets.

Over the course of my job each year, I have the chance to visit approximately one dozen ag retail facilities across the country. As you might expect, the majority of these are older, having typically been built during the 1980s or early 1990s. Still, many of these have been upgraded in recent years to reflect new market realities or regulatory requirements along the way.

Take, for example, the Nutrien Ag Solutions outlet in Morganfield, KY. When I visited this outlet in July of 2018, it was in the middle of making several improvements to its outside structure and environmental footprint. According to Trent O’Nan, Manager at Nutrien Morganfield, this was important for the outlet since two of its immediate neighbors are the Methodist Hospital Union County and the Union County High School.

“Since our facility was first operational back in the early 1980s, places where people go for education or when they are sick have been less than a mile downwind of us,” O’Nan said, with pride in his voice. “This is one of the major reasons we have taken extra precautions with our anhydrous ammonia onsite storage tanks and added a cover off the main building to make certain that dry fertilizer mixing takes place under roof.”

That same month I also took a visit to the Helena Agri-Enterprise facility in Dillsboro, IN. This outlet was a nice blend of old and new, as explained to me by then-Area Manager Joe Olson.

“This facility dates back several decades, originally serving as a John Deere dealership,” Olson said. “Helena purchased it from the previous owner back in 2008. But we did conduct a major renovation in 2017 to give it its current look.” Purchasing some nearby land, Helena Dillsboro re-configured its entire complex, adding a dedicated office building, chemical warehouse, and dry fertilizer facility while expanding its seed warehouse. Again, as had been the case with the Morganfield, KY, facility manager, Olson beamed with pride talking about how the upgraded Helena Dillsboro outlet had taken shape.

It seems I’m not alone in wanting to “show off” when it comes to some of my best work!

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