Happy Customers Spur Long-Term Success

August/September 2010 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

Excellent customer service requires more than a thank you and a smile. It’s about meeting — and often times, exceeding — expectations before, during and after a transaction. Unfortunately, the rise of technology and innovation has fostered a drive-thru mentality in many of our daily interactions; as a result, we as a society have grown impatient, feeling entitled to instant gratification. For example, equating waiting with poor service. Unconcerned with the reasons behind the...

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Feed Industry Anticipates Passage of Food/Feed Safety Bill

August/September 2010 | Departments |

At this time a year ago, political analysts were betting the Senate’s version of the Food/Feed Safety bill, S. 510, would have passed in Q1 of 2010. Now, as we close in on the end of the year, it still hasn’t reached the floor and obstacles continue to hinder its passage.

In July of 2009, the House of Representatives passed the first version of the Food/Feed Safety bill (H.R. 2749) and Congress was slated to vote on the legislation shortly after the Healthcare Reform bill was passed. When...

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Bigger Crops Pose Big Challenges

August/September 2010 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

As they eyed the line of trucks waiting at the scales, the sole owner and manager of an imaginary Midwest elevator, Dave, says to his son Gary: “It seems like yesterday when country elevators were selling for 10 cents on the dollar — couldn’t hardly give ‘em away. Guess that was six or seven years ago, though. Now it seems like everybody’s expanding, and I read last week about a couple of big companies buying some country elevators and planning to overhaul them. Maybe we need to sit down...

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Picking Up the Pace

August/September 2010 | Departments | By Dr. John Foltz and Dr. Jay Akridge

Keith Stone, the general manager at Eastern Feed and Grain, Inc. was still shaking his head as he reviewed his year-end financial statements. Revenues were off 20% and the organization was posting a (significant) loss for the first time in 15 years. 

The results were shocking: Eastern Feed and Grain had done much better than just weather the storm in the recent past. In the three years leading up to the current year, the firm had posted year over year sales increases in the 10-15% range....

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Rising’ To The Occasion

August/September 2010 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

With a corporate mantra like “Rising”, it’s fair to assume exciting things are happening at Aurora Cooperative. This bold statement is based in the firm’s pride in moving itself away from the old cooperative mentality, and shifting its focus toward a progressive business approach.

For more than a century, Aurora Cooperative, a grain marketer and agricultural supplier, has been a partner in the success of agriculture in its part of the world. Serving Nebraska and surrounding states, the...

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Grains on the Plains

June/July 2010 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

For years the wind blew freely through empty concrete silos and flats in the Western Plains. Space was readily available and storage rates were low; many traders figured a lot of space would never be filled again. But a dramatic shift has occurred that’s impacting logistics, basis, and should raise storage rates. The Plains farmer has steadily increased corn and soybean acreage, largely at the expense of reduced wheat and sorghum acreage. Plains corn and soybean yields were solid in the...

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Research Boosts Regulatory Efficiency

June/July 2010 | Departments |

A new method developed by scientists at the Office of the Texas State Chemist, the state agency that regulates the distribution of feed and fertilizer in Texas, will reduce the cost of testing, improve sensitivity to toxin levels and speed up turnaround. The project to develop this new method was led by Dr. Wei Li, postdoctorial research associate at the Office of the Texas State Chemist, and will also help gain insight for future research into the mechanics of how fumonisin forms.

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How to Manage Concrete Assets

June/July 2010 | Departments |

Every now and again our industry endures a fatal accident involving the collapsing of a concrete grain bin. The heartbreaking news creates a shockwave throughout the town and surrounding communities, causing area elevators to suddenly question the sturdiness of their own structures. At this point a local engineer is called to examine the foundation, walls and roof. But if the facility doesn’t have a document called a baseline, the engineer is forced to act as a detective investigating a...

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The Impact of Contract Laws

June/July 2010 | Departments | By Adam Hertzke & Todd Langel

The world of forward grain contracting boiled down to its most basic elements is relatively simple. A grower and processor agree, for example, that the grower will deliver a certain quantity of grain at some definite time in the future for a price determined today. A major benefit to the grower is that it knows the price it will receive for its grain and can plan its operations accordingly. Conversely, the processor knows both the quantity of grain it will receive and the price that it...

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Motivate and Engage Your Employees

June/July 2010 | Departments | By Drs. John Foltz and Christine Wilson

Ever find that you would like to have several multiples (e.g., clones) of yourself? No, not as your children, but as your employees at work: little mini-me’s. You might think this would make your job easier because everyone would think, act, have the same abilities as you and be as motivated and engaged as you are, and even better — you would understand the methods most effective for engaging and motivating these mini-me (mini-you) employees. As a manager and leader in your feed and grain...

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Grain Engulfment Prevention

August/September 2010 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

As summer nears its end, elevators are preparing for an influx of grain: cleaning bins, inspecting machinery and investing in new equipment to handle what will no doubt be another record harvest. During this time new employees will be brought on board, and seasoned veterans will be bracing themselves, knowing what to expect from peak time. In the midst of making these necessary preparations, management also be reviewing its safety and training policies.

Ask yourself: When was the last...

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Automation Feeds The Bottomline

June/July 2010 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

It's a tough time in agriculture right now. It's a mature market place — one wrought by unpredictability — and in the words of Alan Wessler, vice president of MFA’s feed division, "they're not making more land and they're not growing more producers."  Competition is stiff. To combat the forces beyond its control, MFA Inc. has made it mission to make customer service part of its culture; and after 96 years, MFA Inc. has garnered quite a reputation for accomplishing this feat. 

"When you...

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Grain Traceability = Good for Business

June/July 2010 | Special Report | Jackie Roembke

Grain quality is a broad term, one that means many different things given the context of the evaluation. Regardless of whether you’re looking at the physical attributes of the kernels or monitoring moisture levels, the ultimate goal is the same: money. Once the level of quality has been determined — and hopefully maintained — using grain traceability as a jumping-off point for other process improvements will allow elevators to maximize returns from both a market and a management...

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2010 Grain Testing Trends

April/May 2010 | Feature | By Jackie Roembke

The cold, wet harvest of 2009/10 brought with it, not only handling problems, but increased incidents of vomitoxins, a mycotoxin which is a naturally occurring chemicals produced by a variety of molds; and they will continue to be a thorn in the side of elevators into the future.

“It’s been an unusual year indeed,” says Paul Pfeiffer, territory managers — grain & milling, Neogen, says. “In some areas, elevators are lucky to get one out of 10 trucks with an acceptable level in some areas.”

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Challenge Convention

April/May 2010 | Editors Note | Jackie Roembke

While driving through the empty expanses of Central Illinois, returning to Wisconsin after my visit to Griggsville, IL-based JBS United, Inc., I found the inspiration for this column. Tuned into National Public Radio, the guest speaker noted a Russian proverb: “The tallest stalk of wheat is always the first to get cut down.” I had heard it before; however, on this occasion, it took on a whole new meaning.

In the realm of industry — where there is more at stake than the bruising of an ego —...

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