As another year winds down, it’s always good to take stock of your work and the successes you’ve had, both over this season and over your career. Two of the retailer ambassadors for the nitrogen stabilizers business from Corteva Agriscience reflect on their successes and the work it took to make those achievements happen.
Hovey Tinsman is the president and retail sales manager of Liqui-Grow, which is based in Davenport, Iowa. His father and uncle started Liqui-Grow in 1958, and Tinsman says his proudest achievement is having been able to expand his family’s business year over year for nearly four decades.
“I’m most proud of my continual agronomic acre growth. I don’t mean fertilizer-driven or chemistry-driven, necessarily — I mean that the long-term trend over the nearly 40 years of my career is upward growth. The company has been able to satisfy new customers, grow the business and keep that growth,” Tinsman says.
Joe Dee works as an agronomist at Ag Partners Coop in Morristown, Minnesota. Dee has almost 10 years under his belt, but his source of pride is very similar: year-over-year growth.
“I feel like, since I’ve started, I’ve grown my own business quite a bit. I get a lot of referrals these days, and that’s what I enjoy most,” Dee says. “I think that’s a big accomplishment when you get a call from a number you don’t recognize, and it’s a farmer saying they got your information from one of your customers who does business with you and they really enjoy it. When you start hearing that, it makes you realize you’re doing the right thing. It feels good.”
So what does it take to make this kind of growth? Dee and Tinsman say it comes down to hard work, patience and excellent customer service.
“It takes years of gaining trust. You don’t step on a farm for the first, second, third or even the tenth time and have someone’s trust. It’s going through the process of getting to know a guy, going through a whole growing season with him, stopping in frequently and just being able to help in any way you can while not asking for anything in return,” Dee says. “It takes a lot of time and effort leading up to maybe getting that first sale. It’s a lot of effort with no real reward right away. But then, after the first year or two, things start to flow in.”
“It takes years of gaining trust. You don’t step on a farm for the first, second, third or even the tenth time and have someone’s trust. It’s going through the process of getting to know a guy.”
Tinsman adds: “You need to have the belief and understanding that, every year, that customer you had previously needs to be treated with the same care and attention as your new customers. You have to treat current customers like they’re new customers and you’re trying to earn their business. Never, ever, take anything for granted.”
“You need to have the belief and understanding that, every year, that customer you had previously needs to be treated with the same care and attention as your new customers. You have to treat current customers like they’re new customers and you’re trying to earn their business. Never, ever, take anything for granted.”
Dee and Tinsman say they hope to inspire younger people to become ag retailers. They say it’s a hard job, but it’s very rewarding. They both have advice for new retailers to find success:
“Ask lots of questions of your customers. When they ask questions back to you, make sure that you follow up with them within 48 hours, at the most,” Tinsman says. “I don’t care if your response is that you don’t have the answer yet or if you do have an answer, let them know you’re working on it. They expect a follow-up and it needs to be timely. That helps establish trust between you and the farmer.”
Dee adds: “It gets better the longer you do it. It can be overwhelming at first. It gets better, though; you’ll learn how to overcome those challenges and the job will get easier the longer you do it. You’ll have good days and bad days just like in any other job, but this is a great job to have.”
Dee and Tinsman say working in agriculture with farmers is a privilege, and the rewards are incredibly fulfilling.