When an employer hears prospective employees say they “like to work with people,” they may chuckle and go on to the next interview question, but for Ron Paulson, that’s exactly the case: He likes to work with people.
Paulson has been the location manager at Federated’s Isanti location since 2000, and he insists the best part of his job is the people he works with – “the customers,” he said, “and that’s a big thing.” Even after 18 years on the job with Federated and another decade or two managing grain elevators elsewhere around Minnesota, the customers are at the heart of Paulson’s job.
The important role of the customer is the one thing that hasn’t changed since Paulson joined the co-op. Federated’s newest employees are often students of agriculture without farming backgrounds, unlike Paulson and his eight siblings who grew up on a grain and hog farm near New Ulm, MN. (With fewer family farms it’s less common to have been raised on a farm, Paulson remarked.) Thus, Paulson often finds himself in a mentoring role. “I train [new ag sales reps] on the basics of agronomy and crops, and they train me on computer stuff – they are all better than me in the technology area” he said with a laugh.
“I lived on a farm, and I had to be out in the fields. They have to start basically from scratch,” he said, but that is the beauty of the team effort Federated Co-op provides. The agronomy team brings together the experience of more seasoned agronomists with the innovative thinking of young ag specialists, all for the benefit of Federated’s growers.
“We are able to tell [growers] what’s going to work, and help them with their situation,” said Paulson, adding, “We can keep them up to date with the new things that are out there.”
Paulson described himself as a sort of “hired hand” for today’s growers. “[ Federated Agronomists] are here to give them what they are looking for; they look to us for what they need.”
When Federated growers don’t need him, he might be travelling to visit a son at the U of M, Duluth, or a daughter who is a deputy sheriff in Freeborn County. But, in keeping with his commitment to customers, “I’m here whenever needed,” he said.