Hello everyone! My name is Colter Lewis and I am currently a sophomore in the Parkland Pathways Program to the University of Illinois. My major is in Agriculture and Consumer Economics with a concentration is Markets and Management. I spent my industry immersion experience with ADM in Tuscola, IL. Tuscola is a country grain elevator rail house asset, this means they purchase grain from farmers and store the purchased grain. ADM in Tuscola is very unique because they have access to three different railroads. They have Union Pacific access that goes to Texas and Mexico, CSX which goes to domestic feed lots in the southeast region of America, and the Canadian National that is for the export market to the gulf. This facility has the opportunity to sell grain into alternative domestic rail markets.
I picked two different days in December to spend with the staff in Tuscola. I picked a day that when they had a CSX train to load. This requires hired grain graders and a day that a train was not being loaded to spend time with our merchandising staff. The day we had a train I spent time in the control room and I watched the grain graders take samples from the cars being loaded. They ran samples through the machine for moisture and test weight after, they picked for damage and foreign material. Every five cars they would test for aflatoxin. I soon found out why, aflatoxin is very dangerous to animals and with this train going to a feed lot it is very important that grain testing positive for aflatoxin is not loaded into rail cars. After my experience in the control room I went out to the load out. I had to wear a hardhat and safety glasses before I walked out to the load out. Safety is very important in the ADM culture. Throughout the day I spent with operations I learned about the manpower and functions it takes to run a country rail house.
The second day of my industry immersion experience I spent with Kenny Hadden was amazing! Mr. Hadden is the Regional Commercial Manager of East Central Illinois. He oversees 8 elevators in his region. He communicates with both his merchandising/origination staff as well as his operations staff daily. Mr. Hadden constantly monitors the eastern rail market and other domestic feed markets to find the best opportunity to sell trains. I also learned that country elevators are very connected to farmers which means customer service is very valuable. Mr. Hadden informed me that the relationship with the farmer is very important and I could tell he has trained his staff in customer relations very well. I also had the opportunity to talk with the staff members where they told me that they helped farmers manage risk. As a young individual that is interested in becoming a grain merchandiser in my future Mr. Hadden gave me some great career/ personal advice. He informed me to be honest and fair, to always tell the truth, and to learn from your mistakes. He stressed the importance of asking questions and taking detailed notes. I learned a lot about practicing good business from Mr. Hadden.
I would like to thank ADM Tuscola for the educational opportunity. This opportunity allowed me to expand my knowledge for the grain business. I am looking forward to being in attendance at the convention in February to learn more about the grain and feed industry. A big thank you to Jeff and Jodie for all the time and resources you have provided me.