Bob Marquette left a good job working indoors as a metal finisher because he wanted to work outdoors; 21 years later he still enjoys the outdoors while providing agronomy services to Federated growers. His love of nature and agriculture traces back to growing up on a dairy farm in Buffalo, MN, where he and his brothers milked a few dozen cows and tilled 125 acres.
“The farms are getting bigger now, and are less numerous,” he said. Consequently, he said, “Service to the [growers] keeps getting more and more important because everyone’s after their business.”
In 1997 when Marquette started with Federated, agronomy sales were a new venture for the co-op. Jim Barthel, Federated’s western division agronomy manager, hired him “to get something going in Albertville; it was something new they were going to try,” said Marquette.
Federated didn’t have anyone making farm calls back then, and Marquette didn’t know anyone either. “But it was a lot of fun,” he said, getting to know the farmers. Two decades later agronomy sales are at the heart of how Federated connects with and serves growers throughout east-central Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and Marquette is well-known in the Albertville area.
Though much of the geography in which Marquette has worked and lived with his wife of 32 years has been “eaten up by housing developments,” the changes around Albertville haven’t hindered the ag business. The number of farms has diminished, but the ones that remain are larger, using bigger equipment and more technology, including precision farming.
Fewer farmsteads means fewer farmers, but there’s always that first call that needs to be made. “You drive by a farm and don’t stop because you are afraid to talk,” he said, but once the initial contact is made, “99% of them are happy to talk, and that’s been a constant [over the years].”
“Even the biggest farmers take the time to talk,” said Marquette, “but now we make appointments!”
Federated’s commitment to comprehensive agronomy services means that the veterans like Marqeutte are now mentoring the less experienced agronomists to help them “get through the pitfalls of the job,” he said.
Marquette sees great value in the combination of his experience with the new ideas and approaches young agronomists bring to the table. That blending positions Federated Agronomists to provide the best agronomic service and recommendations for growers today, and in years to come.