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Agrimarketing : July 2009
40 Feature Story:32 Feature Story 7/15/09 2:30 PM Page 41 after graduating fromIllinois College in business and economics. In 1976mywhenmy brother Todd came home fromtheUniversity of Illinois, Imoved to sales andmarketing. Today, I’mthe President, but the realmanagement is provided by Todd, nephewKevin, son-in-lawTim Greene andmyself. It is a distinct advantage for Burrus to have the next generation as owners.We can continue to invest in our business since the eventual sale will be selling a larger portion of the business to them. Today, probably the only timewhere I need to prevail as the leader iswhen there isn’t an obvious solution to an opportunity and then someone has to provide the leadership tomove forward. Benefits? One of the great things about havingmultiple generations active in the business, ismost people communicate bestwith people around your own age, so you hire people of your generation. The boys have brought us improved opportunity to attract and communicatewell with customers, dealers and employees 20 to 40-years-old. Todd Burrus: I amPresident of our Sub S Corporation. Called Burrus Seed Farms, Inc.which does the seed production, conditioning, bagging, shipping and storage of our products. Benefits? It is fulfilling towatching themgrowdaily and solving problems together. Challenges?Well, sometimeswe have different opinions on things. It’s also not easy letting themmakemistakes. Pluswe need to have a clear division of responsibilities. Requirements? They are the same as any employee, including having a goodwork ethic. I also required themto get some experience as an employee elsewhere before joining Burrus. Most of the basic principleswe applied to themwere the same dad used for us. They include: • Freedom—You arewelcome and wanted.Wewillingly encourage you in life if you choose elsewhere. •Make Decisions—Responsibility and authority go hand in hand. When youmake amistake Iwill help you solve it, but do not let it get in theway of your future. • Communicate—All good relationships take open and honest communication. This leads to understanding and trust. Choose your wordswisely to allowdifference of opinionwithout offense. Kevin Burrus: I started ridingwith dad, Uncle TomandGrandpa fromthe start.I receivedmy firstwork check as a detasseler at 13 and upon completion of college became full time. Responsibilities? I amtheAssistant ProductionManager.My job is to ensurewe have a quality product thatwe can put our name on from field selection/planting to inventory and supply roles.Also, dad and Uncle Tomare kind enough to involveme in the dealings of our business and then I try to transfer the big picture on to themanagers in the production crew. Benefits? Real easy, there is no better rolemodel thanmy father.Hiswisdomand experience keepsme from trying to reinvent thewheel on a daily basis. Plus, it is just plain fun to work around him.He brings a positive, upbeat attitude to any situation. The other familymembers as a whole bring a lot of different personalities and character traits to our businesswhich it is fun forme to watch the differenceswithin our family and howwe can use each individual to play on their strengths. THE DOWNEYS West Lafayette, IN Dr. Dave Downey: PurdueUniversity’s Center for Food andAgricultural Business (CAB) offers professional development programs for agribusiness sales,marketing,managers, and executives…and underpins our offerings with practical research on agribusiness and agri-marketing issues. I joined Purdue because Iwanted to teach. I quickly found that I loved workingwith agribusiness and agrimarketing issues…and lovedworkingwith the people in the agribusiness community. Responsibilities? I amcurrently the Executive Director of CAB and Professor Emeritus at Purdue. I amofficially “retired” frommy formal teaching responsibilities but continue towork closelywith the CAB in developing and delivering professional development programs for a wide range of agribusinesses. Benefits? First, it is rare privilege to be able towork professionallywith your son in the academic community. I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with his being hired by Purdue. That came about after I had officially given upmy administrative duties. Dave (l) and Scott Downey One of themost rewarding parts ofworking closely together is the great fun of being about to “create” and develop innovative teaching materials andmethods. It is hard to saywhether it is the creativity or the actual teaching that is themost rewarding aspect ofworking together. Dr. Scott Downey: I joined CAB as Associate Director during the summer of 2000 after 14 years in the financial services industry.Dr. Jay Akridge had been named the Director of CAB,whichmy dad had founded in the early 1980s. Jay asked if Iwould be interested in coming to Purdue towork in amarketing and programdevelopment role at CAB. In 2002, I began towork onmy Ph.D. concurrently. I completed that and was named anAssistant Professor at Purdue in 2007. Challenges?Well, there are big shoes to fill.Although I’ve never felt pressure frommy dad to uphold a standard or to preserve the family name, it’s onmymind a lot. That presents a challenge, but mostly itmanifests itself in just trying to be as good as I can. Plus, (more on page 43) July/August 2009 s Agri Marketing 41
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