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Agrimarketing : May 2009 Supplement
22 AG BIZ RFD:16 Thinking Outside Box 5/4/09 3:04 PM Page 22 2009 NAMA AGRIBUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR INNOVATIVESPIRITDRIVES FUELDELIVERYBREAKTHROUGHS R ememberwhen “reengineering” was such a buzzword? The popularity of the reengineering philos- ophy in themid-1990s ledmany companies to radically reconfigure their business processes for greater efficiencies—including CHS,where the focus was on redesigning rural fuel delivery. “In reengineering, you throw everything out and brainstorma whole newprocess as a group.We startedwith ‘Couldwe build a pipeline to every single farm?’ until we came to something viable,” recalls DonOlson, Sr VP, Refined Fuels, CHS. “Thiswas definitely a ‘green’ initiative before its time.Wewere exploring howwe could drive fewer miles to deliver our fuel to customers out in the country, reduce our carbon footprint and gain efficiencies.” Eventually the reengineering process led to the birth of the CHS refined fuels distribution (RFD) program, an innovative fuelmonitoring and distribution systemusing GPS technology. The automated delivery programuses tank sensors and a streamlined distribution process that relies on CHS staff to efficiently transport fuel to end users on behalf of local retailers. TRUE TEAMWORK IN ACTION Today, a growing number of CHS customers are using this revolutionary programto reduce expenses, free upworking capital and limit their environmental liability. “Improving refined fuels delivery was our first attempt at reengineering here at CHS,” says Olson. “Today, using cross-functional teams is a commonmanagement practice—but at the time that LeonWestbrock set this process is motion, it was a bold idea.” The reengineering team included CHS employees from accounting,marketing, sales and other areas, as well as a co-opmanager who provided valuable customer perspectives. Those individuals devoted nearly 75% of their workday to the conceptual assignment for nearly sixmonths; a second task force later tackledmarketing of the RFD idea. “Leon gave us extensive access to employees acrossmultiple disciplines,” Olson adds. “We reported to himmonthly, atwhich point he gave us helpful guidance.Hewas a strong believer in our objective, and he really stuckwith the process over time.” “We toured and studied various Congratulations! Leon Westbrock 2009 NAMA Agribusiness Leader of the Year! From all of us at Cooperative Print Solutions Cooperative Print Solutions, a member-owned cooperative specializing in integrated print solutions and direct-mail marketing, has been a supporter of agricultural-based marketers since our inception in 1937. We share Leon Westbrock’s commitment to our owners, our members and the communities we serve, and we congratulate him on receiving this prestigious award! delivery and distribution systems outside of the petroleumindustry in order to gain inspiration,” says Olson. “Itwas fun and exciting, but I have to admit itwas also grueling because at timeswewere putting in extremely long days to get our usual work done.” In the end, the time-intensive process paid off.Not only did the task force give birth to the RFD concept, it also developed a newtruck designwith a better turning radius and other enhancements for rural fuel delivery. HELPING BUSINESSES THRIVE Rural businesses need the efficiencies of the RFD systemnowmore than ever, according to Olson. “RFD is all about helping our 612-287-0201 www.coopprint.com customers gain competitive advantages so they can flourish.With the newer environmental laws and the increased costs associatedwith owning and operating bulk plants and bulk trucks, our RFD concept can make a real difference to forwardthinking retailers.” 22 Agri Marketing s May 2009