The Agricultural Retailers Association recognized the 40-year career of William “Tip” O’Neill with the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award, and presented the Distinguished Service Award to long-time board member Steve Nielsen during the ARA Conference and Expo in Phoenix this week.
Lifetime Achievement Award: William “Tip” O’Neill
“ARA sincerely appreciates Tip’s long-term service to the association and the industry through board and executive committee service, being a loyal and generous supporter of ARA events, and always offering us wise counsel,” said Daren Coppock, ARA President and CEO. “As an early and outspoken advocate for ResponsibleAg, his focus has been on the good of the industry rather than proprietary business concerns. He has made a lasting positive mark on the ag retail industry and on the Agricultural Retailers Association.”
O’Neill downplayed his impact on the association and the industry.
“I was surprised when I got the letter because I really didn’t deserve (the award),” he said. “But I am accepting this on behalf of the hardworking membership; those of you who put in so many volunteer hours.”
For many years, O’Neill served on the ARA Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. He has been an active member of ARA and steadfast supporter of the fertilizer industry’s advocacy and education efforts. Currently, he serves as the International Fertilizer Association’s Convener for their Working Group for United Nations Outreach and on the Board of the International Plant Nutrition Institute.
The lifetime achievement award, established in 2001, was renamed in 2010 after the late Jack Eberspacher, who served as ARA President and Chief Executive Officer from 2001 until his death in 2009. The award, ARA’s highest individual honor, is designed to recognize career-spanning achievements in and contributions to the agricultural retail industry.
Distinguished Service Award: Steve Nielsen
“First thing I thought was there must be a mistake,” Nielsen said. “I’m very humbled and I’m very honored to receive this award.”
Nielsen has been a critical component of ARA’s public policy efforts for several years.
“Leaders like Steve have battled for ARA and the ag retail industry multiple fronts,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. “His assistance and counsel on several issues – including the Des Moines Water Works litigation – has been invaluable.”
The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone beyond the traditional member and volunteer responsibilities to support the ag retailers industry and the association – making the industry better for all.
Selected by the ARA Executive Committee, the recipient may come from any membership category within ARA: retail, distributor, or supplier.
Nielsen, most recently general counsel and corporate secretary for United Suppliers, joined the ARA board of directors in 2011.
He has been an active board member during his tenure. In 2012, he participated in the Leadership at its Best program, and later served as chair of the Public Policy Committee. He frequently advocates on behalf of the industry in Washington, DC.