Managing people and working with customers rank as the best parts of Brian DeVries job, and as Federated’s Ogilvie location manager since 2014, he has been committed to “making sure the service that [customers] need happens.”
DeVries served as Federated’s fuel division manager for 11 years before taking the helm as Ogilvie’s location manager. In both roles, his focus has been on the customer. “Growers appreciate my commitment to making sure they are successful,” said DeVries.
Growing up on a farm just 10 miles south of Ogilvie, DeVries has a good feel for the farming environment and economy of the area. And even though he didn’t use his ag management degree right out of the gate – he worked in the car repair industry for about 15 years – his managerial skills have led him to this point in his career.
The Ogilvie location has seen dramatic expansions in the past four to five years, basically doubling its size in capacity for fertilizer, seed treatment, and warehousing. Customer needs have remained the priority, even during the fast expansion. “This location has had a lot of investments put into it . . . our base has grown, growers have gotten bigger,” he said.
The challenges of rapid growth motivate DeVries: “I kind of thrive on the challenge of making things work. I’m like the quarterback when things start in the morning. I have the ability to sit back and look and see what’s best for our customers and for us. I can be calm in a storm,” he said.
Ogilvie has a large stock of equipment to schedule and inventory to move; there is a lot of activity on any given day – especially in the spring. “There is a lot more to manage in a short period of time [in the spring],” said DeVries.
Spring 2018 was a great example: “It was a very condensed spring planting season, a lot of things happened in about two weeks. We did a good job of meeting that demand; things went smoothly,” he said, adding, “Our help is very good.”
As the 2018 growing season moves closer to harvest, DeVries said, “We are starting to meet with growers about next year’s plans, and it’s a tough one to deal with as the growers look at their profit and loss statements with today’s commodity prices. Growers are struggling . . .”
The one thing growers can count on is that DeVries and his team will walk with them through the struggles. This father of three, and grandfather to three (plus one more in Nov.), won’t settle for anything less than full service to Federated’s customers.
And if the stress of the job gets to him, he’ll go spend a little time with his small herd of Angus breeding cattle. “They are my therapy,” he said with a chuckle.