Valley Agronomics: A Service-First Precision Partner
“Valley Agronomics, out in the Pacific Northwest … there’s something about those guys, they just get it …”
Those words, in an email I had received some forgettable winter morning after soliciting an industry contact for recommendations on up-and-coming precision ag retail programs, were now suddenly coming back to mind, writes Matthew Grassi on PrecisionAg.com.
It is late April on a ludicrously sun-splashed Pacific Northwest afternoon (I’m told 80-degree days this time of year aren’t all that common in these parts). I am in a Dodge pickup perched on the side of the road at the intersection of two rural highways I have never seen before and probably never will again, somewhere between bustling downtown Portland, OR, and the sleepy enclave of Salem, OR.
In the driver’s seat to my left sits Connor Lankford, my gracious host and the estimable Precision Ag Manager at Rupert, ID-based Valley Agronomics, the 16th-ranked retailer in the annual CropLife 100. After a long day of ferrying us around the retailer’s various operations in the Willamette Valley — and freshly aware of my Cleveland Cavaliers fandom and the nearing game time — Lankford is hurriedly putting the finishing touches on a zone map for one of his agronomists, who had just phoned from Idaho to request a few last-minute changes for a grower.
We idle on the side of that remote highway for I’m not really sure how many minutes as Lankford hammers away on his tablet, the AgWorld program that enables many of his teams’ grower-facing services silently hums away in the background. “All done,” he exclaims, hitting send and quickly double-checking that the file has been sent. Seconds later the dusty Dodge pulls away in a puff of earth and dirt and stone.
Glancing across the cab, I sense perhaps a twinkle of a sly grin from my host, by now surely aware of my astonishment at what I had just witnessed taking place on the side of some remote highway in an Oregon town nobody’s ever heard of.
“I wish I could take credit for this one, but it was Chip Donahue from John Deere. Chip once told me this, and it’s stuck with me for whatever reason. He said, ‘Growers don’t want to cook. Growers want to eat.’”
Service First? Prove It, Buddy!
Basically every company under the sun these days claims to be “service-first,” but after spending the day with Lankford and his crew, I believe I witnessed a whole new level of what that phrase means in the real world.
On the peaceful morning drive to meet agronomists at the Cornelius, OR, retail outlet of Valley Agronomics, Lankford and I ran through Valley’s now-crucial precision program restructuring, which was driven in large part by the 2017 joint-venture merger between Wilco, WinField Solutions, and Valley Wide Coop.