One agricultural company sets itself apart in the heart of America’s farmland. For over 60 years, Chief Agri, a brand of Chief Industries, has served the agricultural community through superior products, customer service and community investment efforts. A family-owned and -operated company since its inception, Chief Agri is a trusted partner for America’s farmers and has a reputation for being a great place to work.
Opportunities for growth and stability
For job seekers looking for close community, new challenges or a stable place to forge a career, Chief Agri is a place to plant professional roots. Ross Carlson is a district manager who started with the company in 1984 and hasn’t looked back. In his decades with Chief, Carlson has enjoyed job autonomy, community and work-life balance. “At one time, I was a regional sales manager. Then, we started a family, so I scaled back to district manager again rather than hopping all over the country,” he says.
While Carlson chose a path in sales management, Chief Agri also has opportunities for employees who want to try different roles. For example, Stacey Weaver is an administrative manager with Chief Agri who handles day-to-day human resource activities. However, she started in 2008 in a front desk position at the corporate office. Since then, she has sought and accepted challenges to grow with new roles and responsibilities. “I found my niche here,” says Weaver. “Not every company has the diverse opportunities like Chief.”
A culture of belonging and connectivity
Chief Agri fosters a team-oriented culture across every division. Employees like Carlson, who spend most of their time on the road connecting with customers, still feel like integral members of the team, all of whom support the company’s vision. “When you call into the office, whether it’s sales, engineering or production, everyone is willing to go that extra mile,” Carlson explains. “I’m just in awe of that dedication. It helps unify our company and keep Chief strong.”
“We have a family atmosphere,” adds Weaver. “Whether it’s our customers, employees or co-workers, we support people through any challenge.” She describes a time when an employee tragically lost their home to a fire, and everyone came together to support their co-worker through the struggle. “It speaks to the value of the people we work with,” Weaver says.
Even though he’s rarely in the office, Carlson has also experienced this sense of family and support from Chief. Chief Agri hosts employee social events throughout the year, including family picnics, golf tournaments and annual loyalty trips. Carlson takes advantage of these opportunities to connect face-to-face with colleagues when he can. On a recent loyalty trip, Carlson was in the mood to dance with his wife after dinner one night. She was reluctant, as no one else was dancing. But then, CEO DJ Eihusen’s wife talked others into joining. “Next thing I know, there were 30 other couples up there dancing with us, and at that point, it felt even more like family,” says Carlson.
It’s all about relationships
Relationship building extends to every part of the company’s operations, which is the key to long-term partnerships with clients and employees.
Weaver and Carlson agree that CEO DJ Eihusen’s top-down approach to actively investing in relationships contributes to a positive work culture. “DJ will stop by and tell someone happy birthday or send out an email recognizing people,” says Weaver. Carlson sees these efforts as part of the company’s attitude, “where you don’t wonder what the next step is. The company has a vision, and you see everyone taking steps to accomplish that and recognizing those efforts.”
Continually improving the employee experience
Chief Agri offers good pay, flexibility, continuing education and college reimbursement. “We understand our employees are people first and have priorities outside of their job, and we try to work with them the best we can,” Weaver says.
Chief partners with local community colleges for new skills training. The company also cross-trains employees and allows them to explore different job roles so they can grow and develop new areas of expertise. “We help people find their niche,” says Weaver. “We’re always encouraging people who want to explore a new area.” When it comes to investments, Chief chooses its people. Chief invested in new technology for employees and multiple major capital projects in the past few years, including a new, state-of-the-art facility for its construction, carriers and ethanol divisions.
A place to call home
These investments pay off in employee satisfaction and retention. Carlson has observed other people moving from company to company in his decades working in agriculture. As a human resources manager, Weaver is familiar with employee retention challenges facing other companies. “People are in and out, looking for better opportunities,” she explains. “Chief employs close to 1,400 people, hundreds of whom have been here for over 20 years. That longevity exemplifies what a great place it is to work.
Chief strives to empower people
For Carlson, the foundational mission to treat every employee, customer and stakeholder with respect and dignity is why he’s been so happy working for Chief since 1984. “Management comes through and does what they say they’re going to do,” says Carlson, who reflects a moment before saying, “You’re going to get rewarded for your hard work with Chief.”
Sponsored content by Amy Carpenter-Driscoll, Brand Ave. Studios contributing writer