Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Agricultural Business Club Fall Industry Tour Recap

A couple weekends ago, Thursday through Saturday, I had an awesome opportunity to attend the Agricultural Business Club Fall Industry Tour. This was my first time participating in the annual trip, but it's a long standing tradition for the club. Our group visited a total of six businesses, and I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed each one.

First, we were hosted by Flint Hills Resources in Menlo, Iowa. Our group of nearly 50 students was divided in half for tours of the ethanol plant and a company overview presentation. During my internship with Iowa Corn I had the opportunity to tour another ethanol plant, and it was really interesting to compare the two businesses. Although their layout and facilities were a little different, they are both supporting local corn farmers and producing ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGS). Ethanol is blended into the fuel supply because it's renewable and cleaner burning. DDGS are a protein and energy rich feed ingredient often fed to livestock raised in the area. 

It was a little rainy, but Flint Hills Resources was a great host. 

After the stop in Menlo, we drove the rest of the way to Omaha, Nebraska. Upon arrival, we quickly checked into our hotel rooms and put on our walking shoes to head to dinner with Scoular at Upstream in the Old Market area. If you've never been there, the Old Market area is definitely worth checking out, and Upstream is quite a treat!

We all enjoyed dinner and conversation with Scoular. Each table was fortunate enough to have a company representative to talk with for the evening.

In the morning, we were up bright and early to visit Scoular in their beautiful Omaha office. Todd McQueen, Senior Vice President, gave a company overview, introducing grain merchandising positions and more. Later, our group divided up to tour the remodeled office space. As we took in the Scoular Ballroom and the rest of the gorgeous facility, Kevin told us about grain merchandising and their efforts in sustainability.

The ballroom hosts many company and outside events each year.

After a great time with Scoular, we walked several blocks down the street to Gavilon. The two businesses have some very similar roles in the industry, so it was a great opportunity to compare company culture and work environment side by side. It was so interesting to see how the organizations have differentiated themselves.

The huge trading floor at Gavilon was quite impressive!

Gavilon served us lunch and presented on many aspects of their business. It was really helpful to hear from economists, operations managers, grain merchants and human resource staff.

After a wonderful lunch, we hopped on the bus and went across town to visit Claas, a German company that specializes in harvesting equipment. Our club toured the assembly plant and networked with sales staff. The international nature of their business and the fact that it is still family owned fascinated me.

Our group enjoyed investigating the large machinery in the Claas showroom.

Once our time with Claas was up, we loaded the bus one last time to head to Farm Credit Services of America for our final stop of the day. Along with a company overview, we were invited to tour the business campus. Their buildings were beautifully decorated with local art and agricultural themes. 

Each element of the office was carefully selected to represent the agricultural clients they serve.

After an excellent visit with Farm Credit Services of America, we headed back to the hotel to hang out and venture into the Old Market for dinner on our own. A bunch of Junior girls and I enjoyed a meal at the Tap House after getting recommendations from a local guy. It was a great experience.

At Tap House we all enjoyed funky burgers and our fill of fried pickles, cheese curds and sweet potato fries.

Saturday we got to sleep in a little and relax strolling through the famous Omaha Zoo. It had been a long time since I'd been to a zoo, so it brought back a lot of fun memories. No matter how old I get, I'm sure watching the monkeys interact with each other and the delicate jellyfish swim through the water will always capture my attention.

The zoo was a welcomed break from the previous day's fast pace.

I had a great time visiting Omaha, learning more about ag businesses and making memories with my classmates. I'm already looking forward to next year's trip! Thanks for reading!

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