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Structuring MFA for the future

Early last fall, we implemented significant changes in MFA’s organi­zational structure. While this kind of change can cause some discomfort to both employees and customers, in the long run, I believe the benefits for our company and our customers will outweigh any short-term pain.

Why change a structure that has been in place for many years—one that has provided acceptable results in the past?

To me, it comes down to some simple facts. Technology is changing rapidly. The industry is changing, and our customers’ operations are changing. It is imperative that MFA keeps up. We want to be a leader in the marketplace. We want to provide value to your operations. We want to remain relevant. And we know that what got us here won’t get us to where we want to be.

These recent changes are part of the overall strategic direction for MFA. Our plan includes multiple initiatives—none more import­ant than our focus on you, our customer. In fact, one of our core values centers on the philosophy of customer partnering. We are focused on building long-term relationships, exceeding customer expectations and basing decisions on results that help our customers succeed. In many instances, I believe that our customers don’t care so much about what we do, they care about what we do for them. That’s not selfish, it’s seeking out benefits from a supplier, and that’s what partnering delivers.

Our strategy of customer partner­ing can only be successful if we have the structure to support it. After all, strategy drives structure.

Structure is the people, positions, procedures, culture, technology and related elements that comprise this organization. It defines how all the pieces, parts and processes work together. This structure must be wholly aligned with our strategy to achieve MFA’s mission and goals.

We changed the structure to im­prove efficiency, promote teamwork, create synergies and strengthen cus­tomer relationships. With the recent hiring of our new director of sales, all pieces of the structure change are in place. From MFA’s standpoint, structure affects sales, growth and profitability. So, it’s a win-win for the cooperative and its members.

While MFA’s new structure is the most visible change, it certainly isn’t our only focus. Agriculture is quickly being driven by data. We have invested heavily in our op­erations and partnered with third parties to improve our ability to capture data and help farmers use it to their benefit. For example, our Precision Agronomy and Health Track programs have provided value for years. Most recently, we released the PowerCalf app. These programs can increase profit, production and stewardship on your farm. They are important to customer partnering.

Behind the scenes, we’ve been dedicating considerable work to upgrading our operating systems— modernizing MFA with efficient accounting and inventory platforms. For MFA company-owned stores, the first stage of implementation was completed Feb. 1. (See story, page 6). The size and scope of these upgrades made this a multi-year project. I want to thank everyone—especial­ly the retail team—who invested countless hours to ensure a smooth transition. It’s a job well done.

Some other modernization proj­ects merit your attention as well. We just released an online customer portal that gives you the ability to view your MFA statements, book­ings, prepay and purchase history. You also can pay your bill via ACH. You can read more about that project on page 7. Log in and check it out.

Change isn’t always easy. Whether you want to or not, you change your farming operation to incorporate new technology and market realities. At MFA, we do the same. Our goal is to change in ways that bring more insight into our business and yours.

Agriculture is experiencing tur­bulent times right now—with no immediate relief in sight. It’s tough for all of us. In times like these, we all turn to someone we trust. MFA wants to be that trusted partner.

John F. Kennedy addressed the subject of turbulence and change in a speech he gave at UC Berkeley in 1962. In his closing comments, he said: “Every great age is marked by innovation and daring—by the ability to meet the unprecedented problems with intelligent solutions. In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowl­edge is power.”

We’re committed to increasing our knowledge of your operations.

More from this March Today's Farmer Magazine Issue HERE .

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