The beginning of the week I started it off working in our plant health trials. My role is to record the data from it every 10 days after the treatment. Then report it to the grower and the retailer, who are both helping with it. We had some very interesting results already just 10 days after the first fungicide treatment. Plant health is a big part of many grower’s programs for the growing season in both corn and soybeans. Our trial is focusing just on corn since it is a harder sale since many growers believe they don’t see a response. The rest of the week I was able to get some sales experience in. I went on a call for our summer fill program. It was a very interesting learning experience, learning the different account strategies. In the next coming weeks once everyone slows down I will be spending more time with sales, which I am very excited for. We have had a ton of rain in some areas over the past week. With the recent rainfall and the heat, weed growth has dramatically increased. The calls will start pouring in within the coming week on the best strategy to control them. During the week I was able to gather more pictures on Engenia applications to make sure it is doing its intended job. So far every field I have been to, it has done an excellent job on controlling Giant Rag weed and Marestail. I still have yet to hear a complaint of drifting issues whether it be with Engenia or with XtendiMax. I did get one picture of a sprayer skip in a field with Engenia showing how it doesn’t move as long as the operator follows the label. Hopefully everyone works with the label and not around it and everyone should have a great experience with dicamba beans in my area of Indiana.
This week was very fun, but also extremely different from the past 3 weeks. This week I was out in Grand Rapids instead of Ferndale on a road trip. It was a fun time and I got to know some of my co workers better.
While I was out there I got the chance to practice a different style of selling by building impulse. Because I was only going to be there for a week, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to go back a few weeks later to talk to the person in charge or to close. To build impluse I had to use what we call jiffs. The biggest thing I used was fear of loss. I would tell the customer all the benefits of my product, then when they say they have to think about it, I tell them today is the last day of the promotion which makes them have to think quickly and either roll the dice and go for it or miss out on the opportunity.
All together, the trip was enjoyable and informational. I learn a lot while going out with people I wouldn’t normally go out in the field with.
This week and the next couple weeks I am continuing to work on my marketing project that I described previously. During the last couple of weeks I had been surveying existing customers, but this week I started to work on potential new customers. Two markets I worked with are Delicious Orchards and Red Top Market, both in New Jersey and not current TMK customers.
With these farm market and roadside stand owners, I learned that I had to take a more conservative approach when first trying to break the ice. I designed my survey so the wording was not too aggressive by first emphasizing that I wasn’t trying to persuade them to buy from us. Rather, I asked them to consider if they feel that they are maximizing their current opportunities with their present suppliers. Their responses showed that these markets put the greatest emphasis on high quality produce, and less so on price. What I also observed in these markets is that most of them were carrying lower grade produce than TMK could supply them with.
Next, I asked them if they have ever been down to the PWPM or if they currently buy off of a vendor within the market. If they answered yes, then I kindly urged them to stop by TMK next time they are there and check out our selection of produce. If they answered no, I invited them into TMK at any time of their convenience and gave them a free entry pass and brochure of the market showing what gives us a competitive advantage over everyone else.
Many of these owners answered that they have not been down to the PWPM in years, and some not ever. Red Top Farms owner, Mary, said that she has not been down to the market in over 6 years. When she opened the brochure I saw her eyes light up as she began to blush and said “this looks nothing like the market I remember.” I told her that a new facility got built and opened in June 2011 and that it is fully enclosed and refrigerated. Here’s a photo down the main hallway of PWPM showing the impressive facility:
Redtop currently buys from one of TMK’s main competitors and she said that he does “everything” for her including the buying, storing, and transporting of the produce. Her relationship with him dates back more than 30 years so I did not want to be too pushy when telling her that her produce was not worth what she was buying it for. My goal was to get her to come into the market because if she did, there was no way to avoid going into TMK due to it being located near multiple entry points and also carrying the largest variety of fruit in the market. Once she saw our offerings she would surely realize the opportunities she has been missing out on.
The main thing I have learned during the early stages of this project is that the roadside stands and farm market owners are too content with their current situation. If they took the initiative to reach out to new suppliers or make the drive down to the PWPM they would surely realize the great opportunities they are missing out on. Some goals of this project are for me to learn about customer behavior and for me to engage with current and potential customers, but if I could acquire a new customer along the way that would surely boost my value and meaningfulness to TMK. If Redtop and other farms are unresponsive then I will make my way back there with a more aggressive mindset and a carload of free samples to help sway their minds.
This week has picked up slightly from the last thanks to the rain helping the grass grow. However, that was fairly short lived. By the end of the week things had slowed right down again. This meant for many of us trying to find things to do.
One thing that I always do when we get slow is go back to my setup position. This means I am putting together mowers and tractors from the crate and putting whatever attachments they want on them. One of the more notable projects that this week brought was putting a loader on a 5203 tractor. This tractor is around 10-15 years old depending on its serial number. We sold this tractor off of our used lot a month ago and the customer wanted a loader and bucket for it. We didn’t have one a neither did any of our other stores. In fact, there was only one dealership in the whole United States that had one. It ended up taking a month for the loader and bucket to get here. Because of this I had to go back and pick the tractor up from the customers farm to be able to install the loader. After getting the tractor loaded on the trailer and strapped down I soon realized that the trailer brakes had went out. This made for a very slow drive back to the shop. Below is a picture off of google of a 5203 (I ran my phone over at work so I wasn’t able to get a picture of the one we worked on).
Another thing I do when things get slow is do yard work. I usually find a used mower that has been sitting a while to let the engine get hot and work it a little. However, this time I decided to use our demo z930m on tweels. Tweels are an airless tire that offer much greater traction and the perk of never getting a flat. I had never mowed with it and I always have people asking what is so special about them so I wanted to get some first hand experience. After mowing with it I can definitely say there is far more traction with them. Are they worth an extra $800? Maybe to the right person but I don’t think I would be getting them. Below is again a picture off of google of a mower one model larger than our demo with the tweels.
This week all my coworkers returned from their International Sales meeting in Ohio. It was good to have everyone back and get down to business as usual. I was given the task of putting together a presentation for some data I have been working on over the past week. The presentation is on two brands who both make instruments for Neogen. The instruments are for the same food safety tests, I was tasked to analyze which instrument was most cost effective and which brand’s instruments were sent back for repairs.
I also have continued to work on a competitive analysis for pathogen testing. It has been very interesting to see all the different companies and products that can be used to test for pathogens in food products. As a food industry management major it’s cool to see the testing side of the food industry as opposed to just the production.
Today I and my fellow product management intern were invited to join the monthly update meeting. We got to see all the ins and outs of the company and how they have been progressing over the last month. It was interesting to see the updates from the other departments in the company such as sales and production, because that’s not what ewe deal with on a day to day basis.
This week I got to fly solo! I had the opportunity to call farmers and set up appointments to discuss their maps with them. Then I got to go to those appointments without my mentor. The first farmer I visited I had already met before and he is close to my age so I knew I could already make jokes with him. He asked if Kylee was joining us today too and I told him nope, she ripped off the training wheels! He got a good laugh out of that!
The next farmer that I went to see I had never met before. He lives over in Casnovia Michigan and I told him I actually have distant family in the area. It turns out he actually knows those relatives of mine really well, better than I even! So that appointment went really well also and I got all of the information I needed from him in order to go forward with creating maps for his orchards. Overall, it was a really good day and I was happy that I got to test my “wings.” Also, my mentor later told me that she talked to our department manager and regional manager and she told them that I was a keeper. She likes that I take the initiative to do things.
This week I also had the opportunity to not only teach one of the other interns how to fly the drone, but I got to teach the Grand Rapids branch for whoever was brave enough to try it. Even those that just watched seemed to have enjoyed the drone demonstration. I even got an applause from them at the end! We did have technical difficulties with using our mapping app earlier that day. Which I was bummed about because that was our first official mapping with the drone but getting to demonstrate it to everyone made up for that. Now I just have to get through those technical problems! In the meantime though, I am completing these maps without the drone way too fast it seems. I’ve already learned so much, I can’t believe I only have two months left.
The picture on the left is from the chemical shed at work, where I have spent a lot of my time up to this point. These are just some of the chemicals, believe it or not, that we use as well as farmers that come in to buy products. There is anything from insecticides to fungicides and of course herbicides for all those weeds. This past week has been very slow because of the rain, which gave me time to organize the shed. It may be difficult to see in the picture, but all of the boxes of chemicals on this wall are in alphabetical order which has proved to cut down on time looking for things. The neatness of everything has been a product of having more time while it has been raining.
The other picture is of the soil scan machine that we have in Hemlock. The bags sitting next to the machine are soil samples that were taken in order to figure out the amount of nitrogen that is in the field. The samples are dumped into a cup that is placed in the machine which then uses distilled water to stir around and calculate the levels of nitrogen in the soil. That is an Ipad in which is used, along with an app, in accordance with the machine for the calculation. Once the amount of nitrates is figured out, you then type in the yield goal for the specific field depending on what the farmer thinks is possible. The app figures out the amount of nitrogen that must be applied still to reach the goal and then we relay that message to the farmer. This process is done for every field and the soil must be cleaned out of the machine before doing another field.
This will be my job starting as soon as the fields dry up a little bit more. I am excited to get out on the road and see some fields rather than just the chemical shed. I will be taking the soil samples and then running them through the machine to figure out how much nitrogen needs to be applied still.
Week 6 included lots more prospecting, and growth. I feel like I am much more comfortable going up to a farm driving in and talking to whomever I may find. I stepped on lots of farms and conversed with many growers, I learned not only what most growers value in their seed companies but also about competitor companies. It amazes me how many farms are and have been in the family for many generations and I think it’s something to pay close attention to.
Prospecting for me included handing out invites to growers for my new customer recruitment event, working on my prospecting project where I ask a questionnaire including questions like what you are currently planting on your farm, what they value from their seed company, if they’d like to have a follow up meeting with my corn specialist and more. If the grower wasn’t around or available I would leave a door hanger telling them about us, the event we are hosting and that I would stop back by again soon. Many growers actually seemed to enjoy talking about their crops and what they value in their seed company. It was a short questionnaire that lasted at most ten minutes!
A career related article I read this week concerns the production of ethanol. Not the first thing that I think people think about when they hear the word corn. But a market that is very beneficial and another place farmers can receive money for their corn. The concern includes the market for corn with how yield growth coupled with aggression in the market will change and evolve. Another concern is how automotive companies are helping promote the use of flex fuel by enabling the use in their new versions of cars. The growth of ethanol exports to ensure that all of the ethanol byproduct is being used, going hand in hand with having a goal of reducing the green house gas and so much more. There are so many paths that each corn plant can take, let us not forget the ethanol that may be produced!
I really cant believe I have already completed the first half of my internship with Brown Bag Seafood. I still feel like I just moved to this city and just met all of my coworkers, yet I feel remarkably comfortable in my position as Food and Beverage Intern and with my role as assistant manager.
This week was more challenging than ever because our lunchtime kitchen lead Alejandro, is out in the Mojave Desert training with the marines, which means everyone in the kitchen needs to pick up the tasks we regularly rely on Alejandro for and less direction to coordinate these tasks. For me specifically, this meant I had to jump into the position we call “tickets”. I had only just trained on this position last week when I had Alejandro behind me in support, but this week I was all on my own. I found this to be a little intimidating at first but quickly embraced the position, found my rhythm, and by the end of the week I was able to breeze through a lunch rush with ease. In addition to ticket calling, I also had to help the kitchen staff prepare the kitchen before the lunch rush. This was particularly challenging because the two ladies I was setting up with spoke Spanish as their first language, however in turned out to be a very profitable experience to learn to communicate with them as we got our work done. They helped show me how to skin, cut, and marinade fish as well as making slaw from scratch, and how to make our house buffalo sauce.
All while assuming some of Alejandro’s daily responsibilities I have significantly progressed on my own intern agenda as well. I have successfully completed the restaurant’s US Foods ordering application, and have officially submitted my intern project proposal. For my project I want to cost and forecast setting up a mobile extension of Brown Bag that can cater Chicago’s street festivals. Chicago has many of these festivals every weekend all over the city and with 4 locations by the end of the year Brown Bag will be well equipped to be a part of these festivals and I would personally like to make it happen.
Week 5 of Stone Road farms has been slightly different from previous weeks. It has been a slow week, which is kind of nice for a change. But it has consisted of more work to be done at home rather than at the farm itself. Since we have slowed down, I have been performing more paperwork for the farm to record all of our activities that we have completed this spring. Some of this is having to update manure application records on our online platform for generating reports for organizations such as DEQ and the local conservation district. Along with this I have been doing some crop scouting for our own crops and recording my findings for each week. Along with this I am logging different weather patterns to track our crop growth to compare yields against variety’s for future use. Along with this I have logged our tillage operations so that we can compare yields to tillage practices to determine what tillage provides the highest yielding crop. This is very important due to limited land resources.
This is just some of the work, on a daily basis work is different from crop related tasks. I am dedicated to cattle work lately. I get to work around 530am (this makes for some good views on the way to work) and begin to scrape barns. After this I discuss different management strategies for cattle movement with the herdsman. Once we have came up with a game plan for how we want to stage pens to limit sorting of animals in the future, we put that plan into action. We have sorted out a new breeding pen every week, and also we put all of our preg check eligible animals into one pen to limit the need to lock down other pens for the Vet. We have came up with this plan for several reasons. One of which is it limits the amount of time the vet can be on the farm and saves us a large amount of money every week. Also it limits the likelihood of an animal becoming injured due to moving pens on one day. We do all of this on herd health day, but the week before it is needed. We do this to allow the animals time to calm down from the stress of sorting so the Vet does not get injured.
These are just some of the tasks that I perform on a daily basis. Along with this I have been doing routine maintenance on equipment and preparing for the next cutting of hay. That is starting Monday or Tuesday (weather permitting), so I am taking my weekend off to get rested up for the busy couple weeks ahead.