Week 2: Rainy weather at Crop Production Services

Due to the rainy weather this week, I was not able to get many hours in. My job takes place outdoors and our customer base is made up of farmers as well as landscapers, neither of which can do much when there is too much rainfall. However, in the little time I worked this week, I made some mistakes and learned from them.

My position with Crop Production Services did not include much training. I watched some videos for 5 hours on the first day of work, but from there everything has been hands on. I feel as if I was just dumped into the job and forced to learn for myself. As a seasonal position, I understand why this is the case and do not mean to give a negative perspective of the excellent hands on, blue collar experience that Crop Production Service has given me. This position is a great place to start as many upper level managers never experience the lower level positions.

This week I forgot to weigh the anhydrous ammonia tanks twice. The first time, I just had to retrieve it from where I left it by the weight station. The second time this happened, I drove to the drop off location and didn’t realize I had forgotten to weigh it so I had to drive back and pick it up. Since I had to go back anyway to drop off another tank, it wasn’t as big of a problem as it could have been. However, given that I can only drive 25 miles per hour with a trailer attached, it takes about 45 minutes to get to the destination one-way. I basically had to make an extra trip there and back, but I didn’t have a trailer on the way back. To make matters worse, the truck died on my way there with the tank I forgot to weigh. Through all of this, I learned that Crop Production Services relies on weights to determine pricing. This is a mistake that I will not make a third time.

The weather forecast was very important to me this week because it helped me to determine my work schedule. It also showed me just how important the forecast is to farmers and it gave me a new appreciation for what farmers do. It is difficult to schedule around the weather and the weather really affects the ability of farmers to work and thus their ability to make a living.

I learned a lot this week, even though my hours were fewer. Farming can really be complicated by the weather and farmers must watch the forecasts closely. Crop Production Services reduces my hours when the weather is rainy to cut down on their costs. I am learning a lot as I go through this job and I am excited to see what else there is to learn this summer!

Mastronardi Produce Intern Week 1

It has been an amazing three weeks interning for Mastronardi Produce-USA, Inc. in Livonia, Michigan. Mastronardi Produce Ltd. grows and sells gourmet greenhouse vegetables. The company’s products include tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. It markets its products through grocers and retailers in North America. The company was founded in 1954 and is based in Kingsville, Canada. It has distribution locations in Kingsville, Canada; Livonia, Michigan; Salinas, California; Lakeland, Florida; Maroa, Illinois; Brush, Colorado; Laredo, Texas and Irapuato and Guanajuato, Mexico. They have several unique brands of tomatoes that they are known for like Campari, Flavor Bombs and Kumato.  Mastronardi sells its produce under the Sunset brand with some of their top customers being Sam’s, Costco, Walmart and Meijer.

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During my first week as an intern it was hard to adapt to my new sleeping schedule and to my new environment. In order to be near Livonia I decided to move to Ann Arbor for the Summer which is a thirty-minute drive. Waking up at six in the morning to travel from Ann Arbor to Livonia in order to be at work by seven wasn’t the greatest thing for me since I’m not a morning person. Thankfully that was only a struggle the first week. Adapting to how cold the warehouse is was also hard, I know at this point I should be used to the cold since we do live in Michigan, but its not the same working eight hours at fifty degrees.

My interning position at Mastronardi is that of Commodity Inventory Control (CIC) for grape tomatoes which is the second hardest commodity to work with at Mastronardi, the first one being peppers. A CIC is in charge of maintaining inventory and allocating inventory to sales orders. My first day was orientation which was made up of completing paperwork, food safety training, and Ammonia training. Then the Commodity Inventory Control supervisor Michael Pelifian set a training schedule for all interns. The second day of the internship (first day on the floor) was made up of walking the floor and getting familiar with the different types of grape tomatoes they sell. The rest of the week we focused on learning about quality issues and defects to look for, examples are mold, decay, splitters, and shrivels. The second week I learned the different formats they sell the produce in like 15×1 lb. or 12×2 lb. They allowed me to check the quality on pallets of tomatoes on my own by assigning me several locations to look at.

As a CIC you walk around the floor with a laptop which is used to input allocations, locate specific pallets, and send emails. You work with three main programs them being Excel, NAV, And JDA. Excel is used for note taking and data purposes, JDA for inventory location, and NAV for allocating.  After showing me how the programs run and how to input data I was given the opportunity to input allocations on my own which was a great way to familiarize myself more with my commodity. Two weeks from now, I will be working my own shift as a CIC which makes me both nervous and excited. I am loving my internship so far, in these three weeks I have learned so much and I am looking forward to learn more.

Week 2 INTL FCStone

This is my second week at FCStone and my second week living in Chicago. I am definitely getting into the swing of the city and the company. I have kind of found my role in the company and feel much more comfortable. What I really like about my internship is that my boss, Rob, let me get the feel of it for the first week. He let me explore different aspects of the department to see what I really wanted to focus on. I decided I really was interested in the more face to face interactions like client dinners and trading for clients. I am really happy that my internship allowed me to explore my options and then focus what I was actually interested in verse me continuing on and doing something that didn’t spark any interest in me.
I am really starting to get how the team works. It really isn’t for someone that doesn’t have thick skin. There is always a lot of yelling and swearing between the team but then 2 minutes later it was like nothing happened. I am really learning that the key to this industry is just trying to stay calm. Even when you have customers yelling at you or if you lost money on a trade.
This internship has already made me recognize some of my strengths and weaknesses. I realize that sales are going to be a huge part of what I am doing and I am good at creating relationships which people. I have been focusing on continuing those relationships and maintaining these relationships because that is exactly how networking happens. I realize one of my weaknesses is sitting in front of a screen and trying to teach myself something. Noticing this weakness has been helpful because I am trying to put more focus into learning it on my own but to also utilize those around me by asking questions.

Enterprise Week 1

This week was my first week at my internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and I’ll be honest it took me by surprise. When I first thought of this position I figured it couldn’t be took difficult, all you have to do is look up the customers rental information and put them in the car and they were good to go. I was way off. There are constantly vehicles coming and going from the location with multiple different fleet classes. Being aware of which vehicles are available to be rented out or not comes down to an algorithm.

What some customers don’t understand when they make their reservations is that we can only guarantee a car class and not a specific make or model, so when they come in to get the car and we don’t have the specific car they were thinking of they get upset. Customer service is one of the big aspects that Enterprise prides themselves on, they want to make sure every customer they come in contact with is 100% satisfied with the service. Keeping a positive attitude and not getting discouraged with difficult customers is important with this position.

Cargill Agriculture Supply Chain North America: Grain Origination Sales, Week 1

My first week at Cargill has been a doozy to say the least. My role in the company is to buy grain from farmers in my territory, but in order to do that I have to have a firm understanding of the futures market and what cash price is. Needless to say I have had to rapidly learn many things. I have received a good amount of training from people who have many years of experience in the industry which has been beneficial but there vast knowledge on the subject makes it difficult for them to “dumb” it down for me. This has resulted in me having to do a lot of studying outside of work so I could grasp the concept of what exactly we are supposed to be doing.

Essentially the personal goal I have right now is to be able to buy corn at a certain price and justify to my superiors why I made that buy. I am studying merchandising and reading a lot Vantrump reports so I can try and see the big picture of how grain origination works. This is a new challenge that I have never experienced before and it is also a new challenge for me to conquer. My internship last year was very fun but relatively easy. Now its is very hard but has the potential to be very rewarding.

Bader & Sons Co.- Week 1

I have been working for this company for around 9 years now. However, at their Grand Ledge location I have only been working for three years. Bader & Sons Co. is one of the states largest John Deere dealerships with nine locations. They sell many other brands than Deere too. The Grand Ledge location is a little different than the other eight stores too. Grand Ledge is the only strictly lawn and garden store. The biggest equipment we sell is 100 horse power tractors. Most of our business consists of residential mowers and commercial mowers in second. The last two years of have been in the set-up department. This means when someone buys a piece of equipment I would put any attachments they wanted to go with it on. This could include mulch kits, Curtis Cabs, backhoes,  material collection systems, ect. This year is a little different though. This year I am starting to become much more involved in the sales department. I sell Stihl equipment, Deere generators and power washers, and parts and attachments.

To start off the summer I was up front selling lawn mower parts and Stihl equipment. Stihl equipment plays a large role in the parts department. This is because the vast majority of commercial lawn care companies use Stihl equipment. However, over the past few years residential customers have started learning about Stihl’s reputation and are starting to buy more of the equipment. It is very important to know your customer and know your product. Last week and customer came in that was just starting up his lawn care business and wanted a Stihl weed whipper. I talked to him about his company and determined his did not need the higher end commercial grade weed whips because he did not have that many contracts yet. I knew he would benefit with a straight shaft over a curved because of the solid steel one piece drive shaft in them. I gave him two options of the FS56 or the FS70. I told him the main difference between the two was the anti vibration technology in them and the FS70 was a more powerful. He ended up not buying one because he could not justify buying a weed whipper for the same price as his lawn mower( the FS70 retails at $249.99). I tried to convince him buy telling him about Stihl’s promotion of doubling the warranty when you buy a 6 pack of their synthetic oil but it did not help. While selling Stihl equipment later that week I also ran into a problem with an MS170 chainsaw. We fuel them up and make sure the run before we send them out. However, this one stalled out every time I got into the throttle. Their was clearly something wrong with the carburetor on it. I told the customer about the problem and offered him a solution of transferring one from our St. Louis location and having it to my location the next business day (the one we had was the last one in stock). The customer was very happy that he had this option and told me to go ahead and do so. The next business day the saw came in and worked perfectly. The customer was very happy.

On top of selling Stihl equipment and lawn mower parts I have also been getting my feet wet in the sales department buy delivering sold equipment. I am in charge of figuring out the logistics of getting all of the equipment where it needs to be in the best order within the scheduled time for delivery. This is a very important job because I am the last employee the customer associated with the mower. After I drop it off I go over the equipment with the customer and make sure they are comfortable operating it.  First time buyers (especially those that buy zero turn mowers) usually have a lot of questions about the mowers. This is why it is so important I know the product we are selling. If they send me out to deliver something and I do not know the answer to the customers questions it makes the company and myself look bad.

MSU Swine Teaching and Research Facility

After two weeks at my internship with the MSU swine farm, I’ve already been overseeing training of new employees and started to develop a better system for farrowing sows. I’ve worked for the MSU swine farm for a few years but have never had any large responsibilities such as training and writing SOPs or planning out strategies that could potentially improve the farms’ wean average. Now that I am being tasked with helping brainstorm newer ideas that could create an environment for piglets that will help their survivability within their first 21 days, I’ve felt a higher sense of satisfaction.

Timing for my internship couldn’t be better, a new article was just published on a new type of system for farrowing sows that could potentially prevent sows from laying on new born piglets. Lay ons are very common and effect all farrowing facilities. Although this new system could help prevent lay-ons it’s already very controversial and has been creating plenty of talk throughout the pork industry regarding it’s use and effectiveness. To give a basic explanation, when a sow lays on a piglet, the piglet’s squeal triggers a small electric shock through a ‘saddle’ that the sow is wearing, causing her discomfort and hopefully causing her to stand up. What makes this so controversial is the use of the electricity, since electricity has mostly been outlawed for use in the swine industry. I have attached the article if anyone is interested in more information. These first couple weeks have been smooth going, however the next month will be faster paced, and we’ll have over 400 new piglets in the next couple weeks.

href=”http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/22/technology/startups/piglet-crushing-prevention-swinetech/index.html”>New Swine Technology

My internship at TMK Produce Company

After interviewing for many internships, I finally decided that TMK Produce Company would be the greatest learning experience for me. TMK is a wholesale produce company located in the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM). As stated on PWPM’s website, PWPM is “the world’s largest fully-enclosed, fully-refrigerated wholesale produce terminal. The facility’s main building is one-quarter of a mile long and 686,000 square feet — bigger than 14 football fields!  Its most distinguishing operational benefit is cold-chain protection for our fresh fruits and vegetables. This assures freshness, food safety, quality and maximizes shelf life.”  For anyone interested in learning more about PWPM than I can say here, this is a good video of the operation:

 

TMK is the largest of the twenty two companies in the market, and they have grown significantly in the past six years after moving from the old produce market near the Philadelphia Eagles stadium.  TMK is open 24 hours a day, from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon, and Saturdays by appointment and they handle a wide selection of premium fruits and vegetables mostly to wholesale customers, but the public is also welcome to shop there.

Here is a photo of PWPM main entrance area and loading docks:

Here I am in a TMK office area overlooking the PWPM main hallway:

This is a photo of the main showroom area for TMK:

As stated on TMK’s website, “TMK operates out of our 2000 pallet facility located within the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. The “Market” features roughly 25 companies that together offer an incredible selection of the finest produce available in the world. Combined sales of the “Market” is estimated to be over 1 billion dollars. Fresh produce arrives by air, truck and rail 24 hours a day, every day. The “Market” is ideally located just off interstates 95 and 76, and just minutes from the Ports of Philadelphia, PA, Camden, NJ and Wilmington, DE. Philadelphia International Airport is just a 5-minute drive.”  Considering what a unique facility the PWPM is, I am very happy for the internship opportunity I am experiencing this summer.

I applied for many internships in the Midwest region including SpartanNash, Kroger, and Aldi, but now I feel that none of these internships would teach me about the same things as TMK. Many of these other companies seemed to have a personnel management focus where managing people would be my ultimate role. Managing the kinds of people that work at TMK cannot be taught in a book, nor learned in a tutorial, but instead you need to work with these people hands on, learn their unique system of values and what managing methods motivate these workers in the most effective way. That may sound like a universal approach, but many of the employees at TMK did not graduate college, and many of them are labor workers and spend long hours moving produce throughout the warehouse. I did not know what to expect being a college student from an affluent suburban area going into this workplace filled with many less formally educated, inner city people. As I am learning, these people have a different sense of humor, different hobbies, and wake up thinking differently than most college kids that I know. In order to fit in I needed to adapt my mindset. Fortunately, this transition was rather smooth for me.  I have always had friends from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and these friendships taught me about how to have a good conversation and make it meaningful regardless of a person’s background.

My father was the one who recommended I call Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market and get inquiries about an internship. After a few tries I finally reached Christine Hofmann, Director of Marketing for PWPM. She was very pleased to hear from a college student looking for an internship job since she knew the market needed more focus on marketing. She recommended that I call the largest supplier in the market, TMK. She then put me in contact with Tom Kovacevich, President and COO of TMK. He informed me that they have never had an intern at TMK but he was also very interested in seeing if we could arrange a mutually beneficial experience where I could learn and also contribute. This just motivated me more to get in there and learn as much about their system as possible.  There is a lot for me to learn about the sustainable sourcing, supply chain management, logistics of receiving and shipping produce in such large quantities, and about the sales process to wholesale customers.

As the days go by and I learn more and more about the wholesale produce market operations, my eyes are opening up on how to manage the work and people in such a unique and under-appreciated workplace. One of the goals I already established for myself, with Tom Kovacevich’s full support, is to find ways to spread the word on what a valuable and unique facility the PWPM is not only for their customers but also for the local economy and community, and how TMK plays an important role in the market’s success.

Week One at GreenStone Farm Credit Services

This was actually my third week as a GreenStone credit intern. To begin the internship, the eight other interns and I spent two days in orientation, where we learned about the background of the company, as well as the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and policies that we would be expected to follow as employees. We got a tour of the corporate office building, where I work, and of course, got our pictures taken for the staff directory.

On the third day, all of us interns were set loose upon our departments. I am assigned to the Commercial Lending Unit (CLU) with two other interns. When I reported to work, I met with my supervisor, and was shown to the cubicle that will be my home for the summer. I plan on decorating a little bit and getting a plant at some point. For the remainder of Week 1, I completed my online training courses.

At the beginning of Week 2, I began training to “key” financials. This is the process of taking a paper (or scanned) financial document that a customer sends in, such as a balance sheet or tax return, and entering it into our online system so that the data can be easily manipulated and interpreted by the credit analysts. These documents tend to arrive in the spring, so there is a large backlog of financials that must be keyed right now, which is what I will be focused on throughout the summer.

One of the goals of my manager is for me to be out of the office one day a week shadowing another GreenStone employee, such as an appraiser, or a financial services officer. I was unable to arrange a ride along for that week, so I took a day to work from the Caro branch. My trip out to the thumb was very fun. I liked the closer knit environment of a branch compared to working at corporate.

Week 3 has consisted mostly of keying financials so far. On Tuesday, I was introduced to my intern project, that I will be working on with three other interns. Past credit interns have compiled a large document called the Peer Comparison which enables us to look at our customer’s operations side by side. Using this tool, we can compare benchmarks between similarly sized farms. My task will be adding the 2016 data to this document, and hopefully making some improvements!

First 3 weeks at JK moving

Hope everyone’s internship is off to a good start! This summer I migrated from East Lansing, MI to Arlington, VA. Five minutes away from booming Washington, DC. Currently I am working as an international intern at JK moving services. JK moving services is a worldwide relocation company for residential people, corporate business, and government officials. 90 percent of the work I deal with is relocating U.S. state departments officials all around the world. These state department employees range from diplomats, to military personal, and other officials from various departments within the government.

I assist international relocation coordinators as part of my daily work. The work is extremely diverse, requiring a high amount of attention to detail that varies from client to client. These people are moving their goods via air and sea. Over 50 percent are often moving their cars with them to their destination. The paperwork that is required for these moves are extensive. Every country is different, and has diverse regulations of what you need to fill out, and what you can or can not bring. We handle the origin to destination move. We hire various destination agents along the way and are constantly calling for quotes and prices from freight fowarders and shipping airlines. I will go into more detail in my future blog posts but for now I just wanted to provide some background. I work 8-5 Monday-Friday every week. I enjoy coming into work because it’s a very friendly environment. The managers are always checking in to see how you are doing, talking with any type of employee. Where at many work places that is not the protocol. My team works very efficiently. Communication is definitely key and my department displays that day in and day out. I look forward to continuing this class throughout the summer and hearing all about everyone’s fabulous internships while telling you guys about mine!