MFA has achieved great success over the past score of years. It is poised for even greater success. The company has a solid financial foundation, an excellent employee workforce, a customer/member base that is second to none and a proud history of serving farmers and ranchers.
The cooperative is bigger than any one individual. When I announced my retirement just after MFA’s annual meeting in December, I did so knowing MFA was well-positioned for success and that the corporate board of directors is fully supportive of the cooperative’s direction.
Your board of directors is made up of highly qualified, successful farmers and ranchers who devote significant portions of their time to the success of MFA Incorporated. We owe them a debt of thanks. In addition to meetings, they go through training sessions and tour MFA’s territory to get a firm grasp on MFA’s operations. I trust their judgment.
The corporate board selected Ernie Verslues as MFA’s new president and CEO. They did so after interviewing a pool of highly qualified candidates. Ernie has served as MFA senior vice president of finance and our chief financial officer. He is highly qualified and highly competent.
It has been my great privilege to have served as president and chief executive officer of MFA Incorporated for the past six years. I have been fortunate to have worked my entire career at your cooperative. It is time for me to step out of the picture.
Agriculture has changed tremendously in scale and scope over the years I’ve worked at MFA. When I first began in the early 1970s, MFA was headed by Fred Heinkel, who’d led the cooperative since 1940. As Bud Frew (MFA president and CEO from 1985 to 1998) would note years later, MFA had been focused too narrowly too long on national and state politics.
Frew changed that focus. He knew MFA’s strengths and MFA’s weaknesses. He focused on strengths.
One of MFA’s greatest strengths (then and now) is a tremendous retail presence. That presence keeps the coop in the heart of livestock and cropping areas where theory meets practice. As a result of that presence (as well as oversight of a farmer/rancher corporate board of directors), MFA offers the products and encourages the practices that are profitable in the marketplace—profitable for both the customer and the cooperative.
MFA’s retail system is a strength MFA will continue to leverage to bring you, the customer, what you need when you need it.
But that’s not the complete picture. None of these strengths is effective without a bright, energetic and well-educated workforce. MFA has spent thousands of hours and spent impressive sums to bring our customers and members a workforce that is exceptional.
I spent the better part of the 1980s working on sales training. The heart of these training sessions is best illustrated by a circle inside of a triangle. The circle intersects the three sides of the triangle. The circle is MFA’s customer. The triangle’s three sides include people, products and services, and processes.
That graphic was used in many of my presentations over the years. The point is that customers, members, owners touch MFA in three ways as illustrated by the sides of the triangle. They interact with MFA people, they buy MFA products and services, and they experience MFA processes like credit and accounting. It is up to MFA to make those interactions efficient and positive.
The diagram is still in use today at MFA. There’s good reason. Every transaction always comes down to customer relations. People buy from people. Since you are the owners of this cooperative, it is essential MFA be operated in your interest.
That does not mean MFA was created to have the lowest prices in the marketplace. It means MFA will operate in both a cost- and sales-effective manner in providing a select number of quality products and services on a timely basis to insure the continued existence of the cooperative for the economic benefit of its current and future farmer-owners.
That model will keep the business and benefits viable for each succeeding generation. MFA is set up for the long run as can be seen by the co-op’s 100 years of serving you.
The company is in good hands.