Stewards of the land
The old saying goes, “good help is hard to find.” We post open positions for custom applicators on a weekly basis across MFA’s territory. There is no doubt it is a demanding position. Seasonally, these individuals put in long hours, working dawn to dusk many days and sacrificing time with their families for their customers.
The job doesn’t just take hard work and time. With new products continually coming on the market, applicators have to keep up with agronomic knowledge and technology, both chemical and otherwise. Using some of these technologies, they try to ensure they’re not only taking care of MFA’s customers but also that customer’s neighbors.
With programs and apps to tell the most up-to-date wind conditions, where gardens are planted and where bee hives reside, they have tremendous responsibility to be stewards of the land. One of MFA’s core values is stewardship. It makes custom applicators accountable to ensure conditions are right to do a responsible, quality job.
This past year, MFA partnered with State Technical College of Missouri in Linn, Mo., to create a program that provides students with hands-on training and education in the field. After working one-on-one with our experienced professionals, these internships can move to full-time positions upon graduation.
MFA also hosts annual trainings to update our applicators on the latest in spraying techniques, herbicide systems and new crop protection technology. At MFA, we pride ourselves on doing good work.
Though “good help is hard to find,” we find it. Annually, it’s my pleasure to recognize top custom applicators in each of our five regions for their excellence and commitment to MFA’s core values of honesty and integrity, accountability, team spirit, innovation and technology, stewardship and customer partnering. Year after year, these employees get the job done, and I’m proud of these talented folks.
Region 1: Tim Spickard
MFA Agri Services, Trenton, Mo.
Years of Service: 7
Annual Acres: About 15,000
Trenton Agri Services Manager Dustin Cox said, “Tim treats each application as if he were taking care of his own crops. He takes pride in spraying. Most of our customers request Tim when they need spraying done.” Spickard typically runs a Rogator for the location, though he performs optimally in any piece of equipment, Cox added. Spickard is also an avid supporter of the local 4-H and FFA chapters, helping the organizations with functions and supporting his nieces and nephews who are members of both. “His workmanship is something special that’s hard to find these days,” Cox continued. “He’s willing to do anything we need to help our operation run smoothly, and he does it professionally.” When Spickard isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Region 2: Tyler Allen
MFA Agri Services, Centralia, Mo.
Years of Service: 8
Annual Acres: About 35,000
Centralia Agri Services Manager Jim Gesling said, “Tyler has consistently provided quality application and good stewardship to every field he applies. Tyler is very conscientious and takes a true interest in our customers’ fields. He does a tremendous job of treating each field as his own.” Allen is a team player and talented mechanic, Gesling added. These attributes make him an exceptional asset to his location and MFA as a whole. Outside of work, Allen is active in his church. “I am very proud of this young man,” Gesling said.
Region 3: Andrew Hanke
MFA Agri Services, Salisbury, Mo.
Years of Service: 5
Annual Acres: About 14,000
“Andrew always takes the time and effort to make sure he is doing a quality job,” Assistant Manager Mike Lampe said. “During spraying season, Andrew always has his sprayer ready to go first thing in the morning no matter how late he ran the night before. He works holidays and weekends if needed, and we appreciate his dedication.” Hanke also runs the location’s NH3 application machine when needed. He always covers the whole field and monitors field and weather conditions to ensure he’s doing a quality job, Lampe added. Hanke’s hobbies are hunting and fishing. He also helps his father and uncle on the family’s cattle and row-crop operation.
Region 4: David Blackmon
MFA Midsouth, Piggott, Ark.
Years of Service: 4
Annual Acres: About 17,000
“David takes pride in his work,” said Steve McChristian, MFA Piggott branch manager. “He stays late to make sure the job is complete and has a good relationship with all the growers.” Blackmon’s equipment is always ready to go, clean and well maintained, McChristian added, and he helps fellow operators whenever possible. “He is very proficient at his job, setting an example for others,” McChristian said. In his off hours, Blackmon helps raise money for school backpack programs and for less-fortunate children at Christmas. He also builds benches and picnic tables in memory of community members who have passed away. His hobbies are raising calves and woodworking. “He’s a family man above all,” McChristian said.
Region 5: Dustin Clark
MFA Lamar Group, Irwin, Mo.
Years of Service: 5
Annual Acres: About 20,000
Serving as both bulk plant manager and applicator, Dustin Clark is willing to take on any job, District 8 Manager Jared Hyder said. He works long hours to ensure customers receive the best service possible and makes sure the machines are serviced and ready at all times, Hyder added. “Dustin isn’t just a great applicator,” Hyder said. “He is also key in getting the ground pile filled during harvest at Lamar. He helps with any task necessary to help MFA and our customers be successful.” When Clark is not working hard for MFA, he is spending time with his two children. In addition, he enjoys working on old cars and fishing.
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