Hello, again! I am wrapping up my senior year at the University of Illinois, and I spent my spring break shadowing Premier Cooperative’s facilities located in Central Illinois, as part of my industry immersion experience through the GFAI scholarship program.
On the first day of my shadowing experience, I had the opportunity to shadow two of their farm marketing specialists. I was able to learn about their strategies for networking with farmers in the area. As a cooperative, they explained that their major role is to work for the farmer and help them make decisions that will benefit them financially. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to observe a farm visit to one of their customer’s farming operations. It was evident in this meeting that they value their customers and strive to accommodate their needs. The marketing team was also very proud of their new phone application that allows customers to lock in prices for their commodities and review their seller information outside operating hours. To fulfill their mission to maintain high customer satisfaction, they strive to provide resources for their customers to make everything easily accessible.
The cooperative operates 25 different facilities across Central Illinois, and I had the opportunity to visit two of the facilities. Multiple facilities that they operate rely heavily on freight trains to transport their commodities, and it was very interesting to learn about the different markets and corresponding commodity prices associated with different rail lines. I was able to tour their elevator located in Dewey, which is one of their oldest and largest elevators with a total capacity of 7,380,066 bushels. At this location, they explained to me the recent upgrades and automation to their facility that allow them to drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to unload grain trucks bringing in commodities. The automation also allows them to load rail cars that are exporting their commodities quicker and more efficiently as well.
On the second day of the tour, I shadowed their administrative team at the headquarters in Champaign. I was able to meet with their Chief Financial Officer who explained his role in the cooperative. He informed me that his job is to provide information for their board of farmers that oversees the decisions made for the business. He was working on a spreadsheet that would show the board how different wage increases would impact their business. He also explained that these wage increases are necessary to maintain a reliable and qualified workforce. In addition to the CFO, I was able to meet with their merchandiser who handles most of the selling and purchasing of the commodities for the business. He explained how he makes marketing decisions in a volatile market to ensure that they can maintain the prices that their farmers desire. His day is spent primarily monitoring the markets and determining if it is in the best interest of the company to buy or sell commodities. He also explained how transportation impacts his decisions, as it is difficult to find semi-transport for their commodities.
I enjoyed my time at Premier Cooperative, and I learned a lot about their business. In all their facilities, I noticed they had a set of core values that their company strives to uphold. Among these core values was integrity, and after shadowing them for two days it was evident that they strive to maintain relationships with their customers and the community through mutual respect and honesty. I am grateful for the opportunity to shadow this business and I appreciate them taking the time to meet with me.
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Grain & Feed Association of Illinois
3521 Hollis Dr.