How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?

One must not forget that learning/knowledge is a lifelong pursuit. There are so many ways to learn in today’s environment; webinars, podcasts, books, magazines, radio, television, DVD, YouTube, classes, etc. I personally find topics that I need to improve in my current job position or topics I want to learn more about due to foreseeable job changes. For example, I read some books about payroll and human resource management when I was taking on the Supervisory role of those areas. I continue that same concept as my career has changed over the years. I prefer reading books since I can refer back to those books at a later time and I feel the books provide a more in-depth learning opportunity versus a webinar. But no matter your personal preference since everyone learns differently, the important point is to never stop gaining knowledge.

Gary Dempsay (Nutrition)

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?

One must not forget that learning/knowledge is a lifelong pursuit. There are so many ways to learn in today’s environment; webinars, podcasts, books, magazines, radio, television, DVD, YouTube, classes, etc. I personally find topics that I need to improve in my current job position or topics I want to learn more about due to foreseeable job changes. For example, I read some books about payroll and human resource management when I was taking on the Supervisory role of those areas. I continue that same concept as my career has changed over the years. I prefer reading books since I can refer back to those books at a later time and I feel the books provide a more in-depth learning opportunity versus a webinar. But no matter your personal preference since everyone learns differently, the important point is to never stop gaining knowledge.

Kimberley Fowler (Agribusiness)

The mentor program is a great opportunity for employees to develop within the company. I was selected as a mentee and had great discussions with my mentor. You only get out of the program what you put into it but it is a great opportunity for those looking to further grow and develop within the company.

Kimberley Fowler (Agribusiness)

Jack Ferri has encouraged and helped me grow as an employee over the past year. Jack has pushed me outside my comfort zone on projects and helped me foster networking opportunities throughout the company.

Heather Messer (Agribusiness)

I believe we have a couple of great examples of people development in the Inland Empire district of the PNW. Joel Mather (District Ops Manager) has developed clear guidelines and benchmarks for his operations team, so they have full transparency around their career path options. For example: Plant operator–>Field Service Tech I–>Field Service Tech 2/3–>Operations Lead, etc. In addition, he is transparent around value added activities at each location, and what employees can learn and add to their job duties to earn a higher wage – DOT/Fleet Coordination, EHSS Coordination, Applicator, Welding, etc.

Also, Joel and Tim Watts (District Sales Manager) work together on a sales person development track that starts inexperienced sales employees out on the operations side of the business, where they spend 18-24 months learning the business, crops, customers, and area before transitioning into a full sales role. This has proved invaluable not only for sales development, but for business development as well, solidifying the team atmosphere in the Inland Empire.

Becki Muhlbeier (Agribusiness)

Vincent Avila (Agribusiness)

When I think about being developed myself, I think about how influential my manager, Lorianne Fought has been to me. I originally intended to become a Pest Control Advisor out of college, however I ended up down the road of Ag research and stayed with it since mainly due to having a great manager. Lorianne has helped my sharpen my knowledge, not only with production agriculture but normal skills in life we take for granted like communication, problem solving, etc. She is never too busy to teach my team or answer any question regardless if it pertains to the work we are doing.

Rob Ogden (Agribusiness)

People Development: Wilbur Ellis in my opinion is the leader of people development. There are so many resources, trainings, and people wanting to help develop our employee’s. Leadership is always looking for new ways and ideas to help develop our people and they follow up to know they are doing their best to help.

Develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better: I like to focus on learning, listen to others that have been there or have an opinion. Don’t re-invent the wheel but learn how to make it run consistently and accurate. Approach challenges with a desire to want to accomplish your goal and find creative ways to succeed. Take advice, listen to others, learn as much as you can always!

Who has inspired you or been instrumental in your growth: Who hasn’t 😉 This company has so many good people with so much wealth of knowledge and integrity. If we are gonna name drop, I would want to say thanks to: Robert Walker, Keith Knutson, Shawn Wetterau, Sam Engel, Amber Ross, Tracie Gogolin, Adam Balk and of course my Wife and four boys. Each of these folks has been a part in my career and have helped me develop with Wilbur Ellis Company.

Such a great company!
Thanks much.

Bill Parker (Nutrition)

Some great examples of people development at Wilbur-Ellis, in my opinion, would be the training that we are offered, the ability to seek training and have the support of the organization behind you to succeed. I have found that my current manager is as much a coach and teacher as a manager. He allows me to make decisions and work through problems, always being there to support me. He does not expect me to know everything and is willing to teach and talk me through issues I do not understand.
I work on developing my own skills by taking as much training that Wilbur-Ellis offers me. I also listen to leadership and management audiobooks to learn from different aspects of life, such as military, successful business people, and influential people from the past. I also spend time in the evenings watching youtube channels such as TED, SMARTER EVERYDAY, HISTORY UNDERGROUND.
When I think of being developed myself, the first and most influential person was my father. We spent our lives working together and we would talk about past experiences and how it can be applied in the future. He was a very successful person by managing risk while looking forward to be prepared for opportunity. As far as being developed in Wilbur-Ellis, the first person that was instrumental in my development was Brent Quinton. Brent saw me as a potential leader and moved me into a position to make a case to take over a leadership position. As we made this transition we had the support of Ron Salter. The next person that has been the most influential is Pedro Curry. Pedro has an excellent ability to let you reach deep within yourself and bring forward skills you didn’t know you had. He explains how you could have done a task differently if you struggled. And acknowledges a job well done. He encourages you to learn and take any training that will help you with your future. He will give you the opportunity to be involved in projects to sharpen your skills.

Faythe Anderson (Agribusiness)

I develop my knowledge and skill to do my job better by always trying to go the extra mile. In addition to this, I ask questions when needed to find the information I need to succeed.

Mallory Robert (Agribusiness)

In search of expanding my own knowledge base, I utilize the learning management system via Direct Access. Within that system, I am able to search for areas of interest and find specific courses that I need a refresher on. The data provided in the classes goes beyond our normal realm of needed information but thoroughly covers topics. Specifically, I have recently been searching for more information on hazmat documentation for both the tickets and packages and between LMS and CDMS, I am getting closer to having a better understanding of the subject area.

Smita Shetty (Connell)

What are some great examples of people development at Wilbur-Ellis? (A person, an opportunity, a training, etc.

I think the ACE training which we had in Connell was a great people development initiative.. It helped me look at my inner self with a 360 degree feedback which has helped me shape up my skills & character.

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?
I constantly keep mapping my skill sets v/s the roles i aspire for. This helps me in selecting the learning modules for honing those skills. I recently got selected into a Design Thinking & Innovation course at Harvard Business School(Online) which helped me gain deep insights on leading innovation.

Melissa Weber (Nutrition)

Michael Chappelle (Agribusiness)

What are some great examples of people development at Wilbur-Ellis? (A person, an opportunity, a training, etc.) – I have a warehouse lead who started as a CSR and is now being promoted to a Warehouse Manager. Here at our location we try to create the opportunity for growth and advancement for our employees.

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better? – I ask for help and instruction and do my best to get instruction with applications.

When you think about being developed yourself, who has inspired you or been instrumental in your growth? A past District Manager who took his time to teach me the importance of each individual under my leadership. Its my responsibility to grow and learn to better help those in my charge.

Kayce Tschetter (Agribusiness)

Developing myself has come with help from a lot of different people. Some who are gone and some who are still with us. I started here with no Ag background whatsoever and was given a chance with a new opportunity in the Wholesale side of the business. Starting low on the totem pole and watching the company grow over my time has definitely provided me an opportunity to move along with the company. I give credit to Matt Richmond who gave me my first chance with AgVerdict and technology to get to my current position. He trusted me enough to start me out with something I knew very little about, guided me and helped push me to more of a leadership role that I now have within our AgVerdict group. There have been a few others that are no longer with us that have pushed me to keep learning how to use new and more advanced tools so I can be more of an asset to the customer and to the team. They have taught me how to use tools they were experts with that I decided I could help utilize as well. Of course many members along the way through other positions I’ve had have also contributed to my current knowledge of not only the Ag world, but the technology and Wilbur world.

Ryan Garren (Agribusiness)

1) Dr. Benford’s online training classes.
2) I reach out to the key subject matter experts within WE.
3) Greg Griffin

Julie Magnuson (Nutrition)

Q: How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?
A: The simple answer….ask questions. If there is one thing I have learned during my 10+ years with regards to development is that as an individual it is important to ask questions. Everyone at Wilbur Ellis has always been very helpful when I’ve reached out while learning something new. It is important to be your own advocate when it comes to learning and growth. Express to others what you need, be specific and know that it is okay that you do not know it all right away. In my experience of being a part of the Business Services team, the learning and subsequent development are ongoing. Being the team who transacts the business involves interaction with a wide audience including internal and external customers, vendors and multiple departments as well as people across all career levels from administrative support to middle and upper management. Be your authentic self, ask questions, seek to understand, and take initiative.

NANCY REYES (Agribusiness)

I would like to recognize two teammates that have developed greatly in recent years. Not only have these individuals developed into standout leaders for the Shafter Ca, application team, but they have also developed personally in careers outside of Wilbur Ellis.
These individuals are, my brother-in-law, Miguel Gaspar and Garet Beach.
Miguel has been part of my family since 2015, when he married my sister. He became part of Wilbur-Ellis family in 2018. In just a very short time, Miguel has accomplished many things in life. He got his GED, became a US citizen and joined the Army National Guard in 2019, and has just reenlisted for an additional 6 years. Miguel is the first in our family to join the U.S. Military, and he has made us all very proud.

I met Garet when I came to Wilbur Ellis is 2011, him being just a kid, and I have seen him grow into a smart, respectful young man. Garet has been with Wilbur Ellis for over four years, when he would work seasonal. Garet joined the Air Force Reserve in 2021, with an additional 4 years remaining on his enlistment. Garet has shown great growth and maturity both personally and professionally. There is no doubt that Garet will accomplish great things in life.

Coincidentally, both Miguel and Garet have successful military careers around aviation mechanics. The skills gained in this field will easily transfer over to diesel mechanic skills that are very valuable around application, and application machinery. Here at the Shafter Ca, location, we are very proud of these teammates, and look forward to watching them grow at Wilbur Ellis, and in their military careers. We admire these guys, and appreciate them for being willing to give their time to defend our communities and our country. Moreover, it is inspiring to know we all work for a company that is supportive both in our Wilbur Ellis careers, and our outside of work dreams.
It is inspirational to see young men accomplish their dreams with hard work and support of their families and their employer. Thank you Wilbur Ellis for making this possible.

Mike Jorden (Agribusiness)

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?

The main answer is “listen.” I listen and ask questions of my co-workers and direct reports to better understand their experiences and ideas and take the best ones and try to implement them in my work plans.

I value site visits. As one who works at a desk most days, it is very valuable to visit site offices to better understand work practices so I can incorporate working styles into our software.

On the more skill centric part of my work, I like to read books on better Program Management/Agile processes. I also like to listen to Pod-Casts and web videos on the subjects.

Carrie Williams (Corporate)

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?

One method I use to develop knowledge and hone my skills is to use available resources available via the internet. I make time to read blogs and follow social media industry experts to stay current on the latest trends. By reading regular posts, I not only gain additional knowledge but also build relationships by commenting and reacting to posts. I also make time daily to review posts on Yammer to learn more about what is happening in all divisions and business resource groups.

Sharlyn Renner (Agribusiness)

1. I think all the training tools Wilbur has and offers, including the emails of anything new we can learn about has helped. We have employees that want to empower each other to be better because that is how we grow as a Company.
2. This year we listed goals that we wanted to achieve and for me it’s ALL ABOUT THE SALESMAN. I work mostly with the Salesman so I need to educate myself on things that matter to them. Products……what products to use and when to use them. So all the tidbits I get on Wilbur products is very beneficial to me.
3. James Williams – he has taught me so much about all things related to the Salesman and their needs to be able to do their jobs more efficiently. Including Programs, reports, weather, whatever the case may be.

Jeff Hershberger (Agribusiness)

Inspirational People:

Jim Loar – Accentuated the positive, faced the negative and lead by example. Don’t get caught in analysis paralysis. Embrace change, the opportunity it brings … and the mistakes that come with it.

Gary Saxton – Critical Thinking – Just because we have always done it that way, does it mean it is the best way? Is the new idea really better? Think before you jump.

Bob Redwine – Customer First – Had a strong relationship with his customers which enabled the business. Whatever is done, remember why WE are here.

These are only three of a long list of people who have moved on or retired during my 23 years with Wilbur-Ellis. I try to glean how these people accentuate the IDEAS values, incorporate them into my values and pass them on to others.

Fayley Meade (Nutrition)

2. How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?
I am a huge fan of educational podcasts, I subscribe to a few HR podcasts which help keep me up to date on industry changes and challenges in my profession. I also subscribe to the HR Brew newsletter which is Bi-Weekly. I regularly attend webinars through SHRM to gain education credits that I use towards my recertification. Around my yearly performance review I also try to discuss development opportunities with my manager for the following year so there is a plan in place. I feel while you can develop in your career through passive experiences, gaining knowledge through outside sources and actively asking for opportunities or even presenting ideas for growth opportunities to you manager is another tool you have to grow.
3. When you think about being developed yourself, who has inspired you or been instrumental in your growth? My manager has been instrumental in my growth. She has given me the training and provided the learning opportunities to grow my professional experience. Good managers truly make all the difference so I am happy to see the company provide so many development opportunities for our people leaders.

Tyler Bruck (Agribusiness)

-People development- Next Gen is a great program within Wilbur-Ellis to help the younger generation coming in get their feet under them quicker and build relationships with people from outside of their area. A really good example is of a gentleman who started out as a temp in high school in the fert plant, then full time in the fert plant, then after that to a CSR, and then to a full time Sales Agronomist!
-The newer online agronomy trainings have been very helpful. Our local monthly team meetings have trainings. I also go to industry meetings to stay up to date on what is new outside of Wilbur.
-I would say that everyone I have worked around in different areas of my life have been instrumental in some way. They have either taught me important “nuggets” to always remember, or how I don’t want to act or treat people.

Michael Doerr (Agribusiness)

Nate Squires is a perfect example of a supportive leader that has fully embraced People Development as core to the way he conducts his business. Nate is a Horticulture Specialist in the Cascades Tree Fruit District. Nate consistently puts people first, ALWAYS! He gets up everyday to make sure our staff that are new in their careers are well trained, confident in how they do their job, and he takes the extra step to get them in-front of important customers and internal leadership groups. Nate has the ability to show our staff a clear path to a successful career, and does so through careful and thoughtful guidance. I was excited to come to Wilbur Ellis inpart because of the opportunity to work with Nate!

Daniel Groves (Agribusiness)

3. When you think about being developed yourself, who has inspired you or been instrumental in your growth?

My Dad- He worked at Wilbur-Ellis for 30 years in the Grand Forks office. I was able to work with him in sales for his last 5 years. He guided me through difficult customers, changing environments and ultimately taught me to always put the customers’ needs first.

Lara Shuler (Agribusiness)

Our leadership team has been instrumental to my growth. Those individuals that took the time to train, check-in, and answered questions as they arose have been imperative to my growth. The opportunities we have for growth are important too, such as the Learning & Development workshops/videos/podcasts and BRGs like Women of Wilbur-Ellis. They help make personal development easier.

John Hoyle (Agribusiness)

How do you develop your knowledge and skills to do your job better?

There is no replacement for education to keep yourself refreshed on what you already know, need to know better, and what the future may hold in your line of work. It is very important for me to find training opportunities internally and externally to help me the best I can be in sales/agronomy in the field. Getting your CCA (Certified Crop Advisor) license is a great way to hold yourself accountable to get training hours each year to maintain your license. We try to get locally continuing education hours for our in house trainings, and most suppliers and extension service trainings offer them as well. Even if you do not have your CCA, seeking out training opportunities is key in my opinion to help you be the best you can be in your role. I had a mentor early in my career out of college that did this and once you do it make it part of your role then it sticks with you forever. Education does not end once you are done with school.

Brandon Wilhelm (Agribusiness)

Our team has found that collaborating on a bi- monthly basis via TEAMS allows us to get a better idea of what is happening throughout our entire region. Everyone has a slightly different customer base and we use this time to talk about what’s working, what’s not, focus products, wins, and areas of improvement. More times than not we are learning about a new product, sales strategy or product placement within a very informal setting. This has gone a long way with the team and even more so with a couple of newer hires.

I have a thirst for learning so I actively seek opportunities to learn about new products, application methods and sales tactics through various social/media outlets. Twitter and instagram have provided tremendous reach to industry leading professionals. The advanced agronomy training courses have also been a great source of information and education.

Jeff Schwab and Jason Otto have both been instrumental in my growth, development, and success thus far. Both have helped me develop, but it took me engaging with them to do so. Asking the right questions and constantly picking their brains has allowed me to grow with ease and confidence. Without their help and willingness to engage, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Angelica Estrada (Agribusiness)

Question: When you think about being developed yourself, who has inspired you or been instrumental in your growth?
Answer: Mark Lam & Lara Shuler have been instrumental in my growth. They are constantly guiding me in new responsibilities and are always available when I have questions. They are very encouraging and acknowledge my accomplishments.

Heartland Sales Leadership Team (Agribusiness)

The Heartland Sales Leadership team is currently prioritizing the Empowering our People cultural pillar. We are partnering with employees to ensure they have the training, resources, and support to be successful. We are helping connect them with L&D, LMS, and our Advanced Agronomy classes. This roles directly into ‘Bringing our Best of WE to Customers’ – in order to do that, working as a team, and ensuring people have clear expectations for success allows our team to work together. We are also looking to continue supporting the pillars of “Operating with Excellence” and “Personal Accountability” – team work is essential and helping others out to ensure success is essential. Holding ourselves to high standards is essential. The future is BRIGHT!

Heartland Regional Process Managers (Agribusiness)

The Heartland Regional Process Managers are excited to focus on People Development and Supportive Leadership within the “Empowering Our People” pillar. This new role of Process Managers, allows us as a leadership team to support people and the processes they complete in a whole new way. We understand the value of giving people to be the tools to be successful in their jobs and the work they are doing.
For the future, the Heartland Regional Process Managers are looking toward supporting the practices of “Operational Consistency & Customer Focus” – there is so much value in creating a culture of high-level value for customers and that comes through our teams working together, and having clear expectations for operational expectations, to bring our Best of WE to Customers.

Heartland Operations Leadership (Agribusiness)

The Heartland Operations Leadership is providing support to the various pillars. Empowering our People is the foundation to which all other things can be successful. Building up our team with training, clear expectations on roles, and how to operate in a way that supports Bringing the Best of WE to Customers, Holding Ourselves Accountable, & Operating with Excellence. We are making progress towards providing data to support these efforts.

Vivian Tan (Connell)

I would like to give a shout-out to my superiors- Lee Hong Leng and Lim Chit Kuen for their Supportive Leadership.

It is a challenging time being a sales person as we continue to be pressured by supplier’s rising raw material,shipping costs and managing customers’ expectations. I had great support from both superiors who would even take their time to have a 1-1 session to analyse customers’ behaviours to better relay price increase to price-sensitive customers. When it comes to problem-solving, I was often given some insights which helped me see things through new perspective, leading to a better and effective resolving methods.

Hong Leng and CK went beyond being a good mentor at work. Few months back when I was on maternity leave, I was reassured that my work will be taken care of and told to get sufficient rest and much needed sleep. I was given full support and even helpful parenting tips!

I am eternally grateful to be under the wing of supportive leadership!

Christopher Gonzales (Nutrition)

Even though life is very fluid, consistency will cause steady endurance and yield expected results.

This is why I believe Bringing the Best of WE to Customers, via Customer Focus, is one of the 8 Cultural Practices I am already practicing. May has been an interesting, and rewarding, month for me. In the midst of uncertainty, I have realized customers depend on confident decision making, and solution oriented behavior, from their vendors, such as Ametza Wilbur-Ellis. Building customers up by offering our support to help them prosper as a company, will only build us up, in return. I was told this many times, in various ways, by customer staffed employees, “You are the only vendor that I have seen here in the store, that will take time to talk to us, and our customers, about their product. You are like family and this is why I can confidently push your product in front of others.” Having our customers wearing our brand is great, but having them accept us into their cultural family because they believe in us, and trust us, is priceless.

Even though I believe all 8 Cultural Practices are are important, looking to the future, the one that I currently feel is the most important to exercise is Holding Ourselves Accountable, via Performance Transparency and Personal Accountability. It does not matter what kind of socioeconomic status a person holds, weather poor, rich, or somewhere in between, if they are a plain Jane or an extravagant Marvin, most people have the ability to detect sincerity and honesty in a genuine and truthful person. Failure is a great ingredient for success, because somewhere down that path of imperfection, we all have made adjustments to move us closer to the path of accomplishment. I would like to see transparency as a strong indicating pillar, in my life, that will go before me in all things I do, whether applied to business or personal relationships, that will show anybody I am an imperfect human that strives for perfection in an honest, and trustworthy, manner. I am not afraid to show a customer that I had made a mistake, or that my product may have been compromised somehow, because I am confident that whatever the concern may be, I can make it right with integrity and determination. This month especially, I leaned on even more, the need to be accountable. Being in New Mexico, associating with customers, I was made aware of how detrimental the wild fires were, especially in Mora, NM. It would have been non-accountable for me to turn a blind eye to the hardship NM residents were enduring when I knew we could help somehow. Therefore, I contacted my superior, Gerardo, who I genuinely appreciate working with, and I let him know my concerns and a possible solution to help, which would be to donate Ametza Pellets horse feed. Gerardo agreed, without hesitation, and the rest is brilliant and fantastical history. Accountability is not a weakness, but a strength in my life, and transparency allows a person to see it.

Barb Davis (Agribusiness)

I feel the most important practice is “Continuous Improvement” because if we don’t continue to improve on a daily basis we are failing our company, customers and co-workers. I strive to make an improvement on a daily basis while performing my work duties. This makes me feel good that I am striving to improve and the end result will benefit our company, co-workers, and customers. By practicing continuous improvement I provide a better service to everyone. Continuous improvement is vital to maintaining our customer base and attracting new customers. Continuous improvement will promote trust between co-workers and ultimately be a positive for the company. It doesn’t matter if the improvement is small or HUGE, it makes a difference.

My second choice for important practices is “Personal Accountability”. I strongly hope that everyone can practice this in the workplace. I feel that accountability makes you a better employee and person and benefits everyone that you have contact with on a daily basis. As employees, how we interact with each other reflects on the customers and ultimately affects the company progress and prosperity. Personal Accountability is BIG. As a Wilbur Ellis employee, You CAN make a difference!

Mary West (Agribusiness)

I am empowered by my team of colleagues through knowledge sharing. In our weekly End to End, Business Processes and Ag Center of Excellence team meetings, support is provided through collaboration, effective communication and issue solving, at a group level. Information gathered is then shared to our branches and ultimately provides a strong knowledge base of new and useable information and tools so branches can succeed by providing our customers with a high level of service. Each of us provide an important piece to this group and we all bring a slightly different perspective that is celebrated and encouraged. This group or team approach make us all stronger and is part of it’s success. With it’s direction and clear intention, this team exercises all the Cultural Pillars & Practices.

Jackie D’Souza (Corporate)

I believe that Performance Transparency is so important for a team to thrive and grow. It allows you to celebrate your wins and improve in areas needed. On the fleet team we did a full Tap Root Investigation on the vehicle ordering process done in 2021. With the all of the hurdles in front of us we executed many parts extremely well, but there were a few areas that we found that needed to be improved. We presented our wins and improvement plan to leadership. We then began to make changes in the process to ensure that we improved on the process for 2022.

Russ Stowers (Agribusiness)

Supportive Leadership – Show up everyday, and lead by example.

Operational Consistency – Annually, the Shafter Ca, location holds multiple hot weather, and hydration trainings through spring and summer. The teams are supplied with hydration equipment, and knowledge to protect themselves and teammates.

Gauri Kshirsagar (Connell)

“Which of the 8 Cultural Practices are you already practicing (please tell us how)?”

As someone who is less than 2 years old in the company, I would like to share on how I have witnessed the Cultural practices around me.
1. Empowering People – Supportive Leadership
From day 1, I have been lucky to have a super supportive Leadership be it my immediate Supervisor or the larger HR team and of course, Azita. I have been given the autonomy to make my own decisions and follow through while still being guided and given the help I have asked for. I think none of the people I have worked with have a term called ‘micro-management’ in their dictionary! It keeps me accountable yet independent. I also feel empowered when I am allowed to my best work from where I want to. I hadn’t been home for over 2 years due to the pandemic and Alex was totally supportive and empathetic and gave me the flexibility to work from home for a considerable amount of time.
2. Operating with excellence – Knowledge Sharing
Connell is the 5th organization I am working for in my career so far. But it is also the first where I have witnessed open, collaborative and genuine knowledge sharing. Nobody holds their cards close to their chest! Be it the HR Managers, the IT team or the COP team, every single person I have reached out in the way of my work has been prompt, responsive and believes in collaboration. They are all ready to share what they know, dig deeper into questions they don’t have answers to yet and then come back and share what they have found out proactively. Integration between HR systems and IT systems, streamlining or HR processes with other organization processes has been smooth because everyone involved brings their best ideas to the table and all of us walk away having learned something new each time.

“Looking to the future, which of the 8 Practices do you think are most important – and why?”

I truly believe that all practices go hand in hand and we cannot have one regarded more important than other. But if I have to choose, I will say Continuous improvement. Be it as a person, as a team or an organization, the only way to keep moving forward is to be better than yesterday. We need to constantly upgrade ourselves in terms of our learning, our sharing, our mindset and keep doing every little thing that will make us a better version of ourselves and make our organization better than it was yesterday.

Jay Rajgor (Connell)

According to me Knowledge Sharing is key to Operational Excellence.

Kristen Lee (Corporate)

Which of the 8 Cultural Practices are you already practicing?” (Please tell us how.)

Upon considering the eight Cultural Practices, “Personal Accountability” was the one which stood out to me the most as something I strive to incorporate into my daily work life. Whether or not each of us has a manager or supervisor who directly oversees our duties, I believe it is crucial to hold ourselves accountable to ensure that we perform at our best every time we put our hands to the plough (literally or not). Oftentimes, it is only each of us who is most aware of the various components of his or her job and the balance of priorities as they shift over time. It would follow then, that it makes sense to keep our own selves on task from day to day, instead of leaving it to others to keep us in check.

As someone who can quickly get absorbed in each day’s specific demands, I find it useful to regularly pause to think of the longer-term projects on my plate. As simple as it may sound, I always try to look past just that day or week on my calendar to ensure that I have a full-orbed view of not only the smaller, closer-range tasks which I need to accomplish, but also ones which may require more time and effort to complete. It is all too easy to lose sight of a “we-need-to-do-this” comment in a meeting or fail to take action on an “I-should-do-that” thought. However, I have found that if I can keep track of my various responsibilities by seeing where tackling them might fall concretely on my calendar, that helps me to stay accountable to myself and ultimately, serve others better.

Kristen Lee
Executive Legal Assistant
San Francisco, CA

HEIDI MOORE (Agribusiness)

One of the Cultural Practices I am currently using is continuous improvement. We are looking at current KPI’s in COP Metrics and using that information to dial in and takes steps toward making improvments. Like Processing Sales Orders, we are focused on that in the Heartland because it improves inventory visibility in AVN so that our Sales team is seeing a more accurate available inventory. Some are a quick easy fix while others take a slower, steady path to resolution. As long as we are headed in the right direction and not going backwards we are continuously improving.

I also believe that continuous improvement is one of the most important because it feeds into what I think is our number one practice, Customer Focus. If we lose sight of the customer what are we doing this for?

Jinghong He (Agribusiness)

1. I’m already practicing all of them, maybe more on some than the others. This year my focus is more on the continuous improvement, customer focus, and operational consistency. I’m taking CPE lessons (for CPA) to keep up with the knowledge and requirements, absorbing WE specific knowledge in daily work and trying to provide my best performance.
2. Looking to the future, I think supportive leadership and continuous development are critically important. They are the basic of development of people’s talent and enterprise prosperity. Continuous development is how we survive and thrive. And that cannot happen without a supportive leadership. Even though I’m not in the management team now, I’d love to see and try to practice as much as I can for a healthy and harmonious work environment and career advancement.

Wendy Joy (Agribusiness)

Continuous Improvement:
In order to continue to grow as an employee and company, we must constantly be re-evaluating what and how we approach our work. It is important not to just do things as they have always been done. Continually be thinking: Is there a better, more efficient way to accomplish this task? Does what we are doing make sense? Can we reduce costs or save time?
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and bring new ideas to your team.

Steve Simon (Agribusiness)

I’m one of the newest employees in the Wilbur-Ellis Agriculture division. I’m the newest employee at the Clarke Branch in Boardman Oregon. I work with a great group of people under Shirley Purcell. She is very supportive and my coworkers are all very receiving and willing to help where they can. I just wanted to say how happy I am to work at Wilbur-Ellis as the Customer Service Representative 2.

My Cultural Practices:
 Customer Focus: From my training in customer service here and past jobs I have learned to treat people how they would expect to be treated. With respect, sympathy and common courtesy. The happier I sound on the phone the better their phone call will be. They will want to come back for more business.

 Continuous Improvement: Since I’m new, I am doing this every day to try to become more efficient. When I do that it makes my coworkers jobs and mine easier. I’ve been writing notes on how to do each function of my job better.

 Performance Transparency: I always try to be honest when speaking with customers and coworkers.

 Personal Accountability: I always try to push myself to do better and work honestly with others. If I make a mistake I am willing to confess and make it right.

 Operational Consistency: I try to be consistent in the way I treat customers, coworkers and how I do my job.

Looking to the Future:
 I think they are all important but will narrow it down to a few.
 People Development: With the range of different backgrounds of people that work for a large company, it is important to train with the same goal in mind. Then allow the different backgrounds to contribute their way so the culture is stronger.
 Supportive Leadership: If you want the company to succeed then you need leaders that understand the needs of the employees they are responsible for. When employees feel supported they do better work, are safer and look out for each other.
 Customer Focus: If we take care of our customers they will come back and bring more customers to our business.

Chad Desserich (Nutrition)

1) Thanks to great development from Gerardo Quintero, I’ve learned much over the past two years. One of the Cultural Practices that is on the top of my list is “Operating with Excellence”, specifically Operational Consistency. Over my time at Wilbur-Ellis (2018), one of the many items that I recognized was a potential risk to business, was the divided pillars in which the brewery team was running their business. All information, all operational activities, all knowledge of each business was retained by each business unit manager. This was not good for Wilbur-Ellis, the breweries we work with, and the customers we serve, nor was it good for the employees. If something caused one of the employees from performing his/her duties (health, accident, etc…), there would be a gap in service to our customers, to the breweries we service, and our overall business performance. This also means 24 hours per day, on duty or on vacation, these employees have to work (also not good for life balance). At the beginning of 2022, we designed a program and promoted two Business Service Specialists to start learning the flow of scheduling and begin the process of learning the overall operations of our business for back up if the need arises. While we are still in the infancy of the program, it is working and I can see this program closing the operational gaps to all stakeholders.

2) Empowering our People is most important. In Nutrition, there has been a significant cultural shift for the better. Previously, many activities were in silos and there was even a level of fear and lack of trust with many. Through great leadership over the past two years, this has really started to move in the right direction. When people feel empowered to work, have trust in their leadership, and are supported by the leadership, they enjoy their work more. The more we can empower our people and develop them, the more productive and more engaged they will be.

Adam Balk (Corporate)

Operational Consistency is very important to the success of an organization. When the company is able to perform the same task at a high level, over and over across the organization, it helps contribute to customers satisfaction, regulatory sustainability, and employee understanding. It also aids in transition when there is postion changes or employee turnover to ensure that business keeps moving forward.

Kimberly Dahlberg (Agribusiness)

Personal Accountability is a big one for me. I have been a Wilbur Ellis employee for 20+ years, the past 7 of those years in a management role. I have been told that I am a natural leader but I felt that I struggled since I didn’t feel I had enough tools in my toolbelt to manage / supervise others effectively. When the Learning & Development team announced they would be offering Manager / Supervisor training, I immediately signed up. I made it a top priority to adjusted my schedule so that I could attend the trainings, do the homework and actually put in the effort to incorporate what I learned into every day practice. I want to do everything possible to get the most out of this amazing opportunity put together for us. I am grateful to have new tools to help me be a better leader. And you can be sure when the next session is announced, I will be among the first to sign up.

Derek Simons (Agribusiness)

I do not get to interact with our end customers in my position, but one thing I have been trying to do is see how I can serve the team that does as they are my customer. Trying to provide them with everything they need to get up to date information, status on product, or anything that will give them the ability to show our end customers the best Wilbur Ellis we can be.

Gina Colfer (Agribusiness)

I believe I am practicing Continuous Improvement within our Cultural Pillars. In the agricultural sector right now, if we are not practicing this, we will get left in the dust. There are so many new technologies and products, if we are not continually striving to learn, then how can we bring new ideas to our growers?

Mallory Robert (Agribusiness)

Lara Shuler (Agribusiness)

Customer Focus is and will continue to be the most important pillar for Wilbur Ellis. Every action we take is with the customer in mind. The salespeople meet with our customers and find their needs. Our procurement team obtains our customer’s needs. Our office staff processes those orders for the customer, and our drivers deliver those customer needs. There are so many other supporting roles that help to benefit the customer. When we focus on the customer, excellence comes naturally.

Jeff Barnes (Nachurs)

At NAS one area we really focus on is operational consistency. This is important for several reasons. Our customers expect a quality product every time. As well the product needs to be delivered on time. Their business depends on this. A grower going into the field can’t have product that hasn’t stored well or is out of spec where it can harm the plant. An industrial customer needs the product to be in spec and delivered on time or they run the risk of having their operation shut down. This is also how we separate ourselves from the competition and gain a competitive advantage. Our brands (Alpine, Nachurs, and NASI) have great reputations in the marketplace for quality and reliability that has been built up over 75 years. For these reasons NAS has always emphasized operational consistency as we need to deliver a quality product on time – Every time!

Going forward NAS also feels operational consistency is the most important thing to focus and improve upon. Being a chemical company, we have significant exposure to EHS risks if we do not operate properly every time. We are implementing GPS to improve our safety practices as well as Management of Change (MOC) to minimize the risks of environmental or safety accidents. It only takes one time of not operating properly to have a severe accident – and nothing is more important than the safety of our employees. For this reason, it is important to raise our level of operations even higher than it is today – and to do so consistently!

Jocellyne Fernandes (Agribusiness)

People Development – Training and teaching new team members each day, enjoying the fellowship of the experience.
Supportive Leadership – Initiating new conversations and building trusted relationships with new people in our organization as often as possible.
Customer Focus – Believing that data quality is the star player in functional support, allows me to help my customers (locations, and I.T.) effectively.
Performance Transparency – Clearly documenting Projects and Progress, presenting DGO efforts to leadership teams and learning from mistakes made, receiving hard-to-hear feedback and pushing forward to achieve strategic goals.
Personal Accountability – I use the DGO Page in WEconnect to track issues and project progress. I use Teams to communicate with my DGO Team Members and to post agendas for upcoming meetings. I follow up the same meetings with notes to the attendees.
Operational Consistency – Documentation of processes and adherence to the business processes as they evolve keeps me on my Ps & Qs.
Knowledge Sharing – Just wrote an article (with Jeff Hershberger’s help), for Ag COE’s quarterly newsletter, speaking to the Idera database and how DGO is creating independence in accessibility to the data that grows our business. We are always adding to and developing Idera. I hope to be able to contribute in this way, more often.

Jeff Hershberger (Agribusiness)

People Development – I am thoroughly enjoying being a Mentor in the Program.
Supportive Leadership – Monthly Fireside chats with my direct reports.
Customer Focus – uhhh… NOBODY wants me to talk directly with our customers! 🙂 But YOU are OUR customer.
Performance Transparency – Data Governance Office Value Roadmaps developed to show our direction and results.
Personal Accountability – I use MY TIME to track my time off and appointments, and require my team does the same.
Operational Consistency – Data GOVERNANCE Office – Consistency is in our DNA!
Knowledge Sharing – DGO shares its knowledge in IDERA.

Mark Ripato (Agribusiness)

– One area of many that I believe represents Bringing the Best of WE to Customers is the CropSights effort. The most exciting part of that for me is the preemptive, problem identification and resolution dialogue that occurs with the customer. It sounds simple, but is often overlooked within our industry. The discussions happening around the organization about CropSights and the potential it could present is extraordinary to watch! Thanks to all involved.
– Each of the pillars and practices are important for our future success, but if I had to anchor into one of them, I would pick personal accountability. We each need to engage in defining, developing and understanding our strategy. Then, own our piece of it when we are ready to execute. If we get that right, the rest will take care of itself.

Gerardo Quintero (Nutrition)

The cultural practices and the four pillars are integral parts of our Nutrition strategy. Empowering Our People is driving one of those efforts. I have been working diligently with my entire team to assess the talent and will start setting individual development plans. The customer-focused practice also drives our improvement plans, growth initiatives, and process improvements. We are constantly looking at the customer needs to use our capabilities to deliver it compellingly and strategically while building customer loyalty. As an example of the last, in our Buhl location, we are developing a project that asses the current customer service end-to-end process and defining what will be the future state and capabilities needed to exceed the customer expectations.

Russ Stowers (-- Select an option --)

Which of the 8 Cultural Practices are you already practicing?” (Please tell us how.)
Supportive Leadership-When teammates feel victory, leaders highlight accomplishments.
When teammates feel defeat, leaders take ownership.
Operational Consistency-Accountability and reliability should be viewed as core value minimum standard, not an accomplishment. Show up for your team everyday.

Tracy Genest (Nutrition)

I am always working on continuous improvement to bring the best of WE to our customers. On a daily basis I deal with our customers regarding their account. I work to ensure they have all the information they need to settle their account, will help make adjustments to ensure the information flows freely between WE and the customer and to help answer any other questions they may have. When you continue to support your customers and go the extra step when needed that will be rewarded with continued business.

I believe one of the most important pillars is People Development. If we continue to strive to ensure our people are well trained and educated, as well as working on hiring the best we can, we will continue to keep WE in the forefront in the Agricultural industry.

Don Sauve (Corporate)

1. I’m already practicing “Knowledge Sharing” within the I.T. group. While I’ve only been at W-E for about 8 months, it was clear from day one that everyone in our group willingly shared what they knew to help each other succeed.
2. I think that Customer Focus is the most important of the 8 Practices, because we cannot succeed without customers. We should always strive to meet their needs (and exceed when possible).

Julie Magnuson (Nutrition)

While each of the 8 Cultural Practices is very important, I first practice Supportive Leadership. My team and I have been working from home since March 16, 2020 so this practice is especially important when you are not physically present.

I practice Supportive Leadership by:

*Holding regular meetings with each of my team members.
*Being available for questions or when they need some direction.
*Creating a safe environment so we can have open and honest dialogue with each other.
*Providing clear expectations, training, and feedback.
*Actively listening to them.
*Providing encouragement along the way.

I believe when you put people first and do the things listed above, your team will thrive, the work will happen, and the company flourishes.

Ty Zorn (Corporate)

1.) I am currently practicing continuous improvement in my day-to-day activities. Continuous improvement, to me, is when you actively engage in an attempt to make process improvements. I am fairly new, so when I am given a new task to complete, I immediately identify the fallacies in the process and find an alternative (if necessary) to complete the task more efficiently.

2.) I believe the most important Practice is “People Development”. Investing time/resources in our people will return dividends in the long run. It is also important to find quality people for specific roles. An important concept to keep in mind when developing people, is how to successfully connect/communicate with them. Adjusting your communication method is a valuable technique that helps better relay a message to your audience. Some people react/learn better to visuals, while others do better with physically going through the motions.

Hugo Garcia (Nutrition)

Bringing the Best of WE to Customers – This is the cultural pillar I believe I have been practicing, for the Angleton, Texas location. We recently had a Purina Customer audit this year, all the improvements we have done to our FSQR program and the commitment the employees have put into as well has paid off. Jennifer Hines (Auditor) noted “very impressed by the facility’s progress from the previous audit and am excited by the teams commitment and knowledge”. With this being said from our customer makes me believe we are bringing the best to our customers.

DONALD CROWE (Agribusiness)

Supportive Leadership/People Development:
By questioning each department or area’s needs are to improve working conditions. We have made improvements in safety and appearance of the Location. Warehouse ramp was uneven and needed improvement to reduce forklift damage and cargo transit. The truck scale had a bad step design and an unsafe fall/trip hazard. These were improvements submitted by location employees and are encouraged to look for safety or process improvements on an ongoing basis. Employees feel like they have input and can improve location conditions and take ownership of their area(s).

Denise Smutny (Agribusiness)

Empowering Our People: If we don’t empower our people, we cannot grow. It is so critical to listen to the the people doing the work, what they bring to the table, how to make processes and the company better. The best ideas come from the people doing the work as well as those people brought in from outside the organization into new roles who are bringing ideas and improvements with them. Empowering people means letting them take risks and learn, always give merit to an idea even if you don’t think it will work because it might. There is typically more ways to complete a task, process, or engage a customer or vendor and listening to our team members ideas and making sure there is a safe environment to share those ideas is critical and the path to the future.

Denise Smutny (Agribusiness)

Today and every day I hold myself accountable for my work and the work of my team. As a newer leader to Wilbur-Ellis there is much to learn and mistakes can be made. I believe it is critical to hold oneself accountable to be able to learn from your mistakes. Everything is fixable, maybe challenging to fix, but learning is such an important element for being accountable to yourself and others. I believe that when making decisions, make the best decision possible with the information you have and be willing to be flexible if that decision was not practical, make a new decision and move forward. Being accountable to me means taking some risks, learning and growing.

Brittney Iiams (Nutrition)

1. Currently I am practicing empowering our people. As part of my own goal to have a greater understanding of the FSQR department and all the roles that come along with it, I am diving into new tasks in order to be more well rounded and a greater asset to my team.

2. Looking into the future, Continuous improvement is one of the most important practices. There is always room for growth and improvement in all aspects of the life and in a company. I think we should all strive to be a little better than the day before, that allows growth both as an employee and personally. If we stop striving for improvement we stop allowing ourselves to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

Amanda Scheving (Agribusiness)

I feel that I am already Holding myself accountable and Performance Transparency. As a newer employee, hired May/June of 2021, I have set a standard for myself to learn my position and stay accountable to that. I am still learning and continue to find opportunities to improve my performance and hold myself accountable throughout every day.

All of the 8 practices are important looking to the future. I do believe that Operational Consistency and Knowledge Sharing are very important due to the difficulty of finding employees and getting them trained in as quickly as possible. It is difficult to keep current employees and retain new employees when the operational consistency is inadequate. Also when it comes to knowledge sharing, if your employees have tribal knowledge that they have just learned overtime, that more than likely doesn’t get passed on to new employees. This makes it difficult for new employees to be successful if veteran employees don’t share that knowledge and just expect new employees to “figure it out” .

Lisa Hernandez (Agribusiness)

I believe we practice all areas of the 8 Cultural Practices at our branch. The areas we probably practice the most is Empowering Our People. At our branch we do our best to help and develop our people. We are always learning and trying to teach those around us best practices. At our branch we have Supportive Leadership. Our manager is there to help us each and every day and if we do not know something we are not afraid to turn to him for the answers to our questions.
Looking to the future, People Development is the most important of the practices. If the people in your company are developed and continue to develop the rest of the cultural practices will more easily fall into place.

Michelle Leal (Agribusiness)

“Which of the 8 Cultural Practices are you already practicing?” (Please tell us how.)
In my current role as Customer Support, I am already practicing people development by constant training and check-ins with the new additions to my team. I have an open forum when it comes to my knowledge and time with coworkers. If they need help with something they are tackling I will shadow in and work through their issue with them only offering guidance when needed, or if I am working on something they haven’t seen yet I will let them shadow me, and ask questions along the way. With that, I feel like continuous improvement plays a big part in how I approach people development because by working through training scenarios and constant communication we are always evolving as a team and individually.
I take a lot of personal accountability for my actions in my role. I am not afraid to speak up if I have made a mistake. No one would learn or progress without failures to improve from, with the structure of my supportive leadership team there is the ability for my group to function with all of the cultural pillars and practices in mind already.
There is not a part of me that is fearsome or leary to practice any of these pillars in lue of repercussion.

“Looking to the future, which of the 8 Practices do you think are most important – and why?

I think that empowering the people we already have should be the main focus. Retention of the right employees is key to keeping teams, and organizations running optimally. By empowering the people, operating with excellence will trickle into play because you have built the dream teams by fostering trust and support within the employee groups. Customer care and focus improve when employees feel safe and appreciated, they are willing to learn more and apply themselves a little bit harder than if they don’t feel like this is the company that wants them.

Manuel Ramirez (Nutrition)

Even if I’m not a team leader/supervisor or in any management role, I always love to give support to my team by sharing all knowledge (soft skills or technical skills) in order to get better and perform more efficiently. I strive to focus on my customers and bring to the table the best customer service that Wilbur-Ellis is known for. Even with day-to-day challenges, I continue to improve and get better in each area professionally and personally speaking. I continue working on improving and always do my job with best performance and transparency. As it said, “if you don’t care about your people and customers, somebody else will”

Jose Luis Castro (Nutrition)

People Development and Supportive Leadership is one of the Culural practices we try hard to live on our daily duties, as a people manager is my responsibility to make sure that the right tools are there for each employee to suceed in their professional and personal needs on our company.

Continuous Improvement is something that will definetely want to develop in our team to make sure we are better everyday, even though it is on small steps that keep is thriving on the right direction of innovation to succeed for the next 100 years.