Agribusiness Leader/Marketer of the Year Awards

Written by NAMA on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 , 1:09 pm

Don’t forget to nominate the cream of the crop – Agribusiness Leader of the Year and NAMA Marketer of the Year.  Check out a list of current and past winners for Agribusiness Leader of the Year and NAMA Marketer of the Year.

Winners of these prestigious awards will be honored at the 2015 Agri-Marketing Conference, April 15 – 17 in Kansas City, MO.  Celebrate the achievements and impressive careers of the very best in agriculture with NAMA.

Agribusiness Leader of the Year Application:

Please download the application in Adobe PDF format here. Or fill out the online nomination short form here.

NAMA Marketer of the Year Application:

Please download the application in Adobe PDF format here. Or fill out the NAMA Marketer of the Year online nomination form here.


Submission deadline is January 16, 2015.

If you have any questions about these awards, please contact Jenny Pickett at (913) 491-6500 or

PDA Awards: And the Winners Are…..

Written by NAMA on Friday, August 15, 2014 , 8:18 am

NAMA is proud to present the 2014 Professional Development Award Winners!

Marketing Communications:

Ryan Parkin, Marketing Communications Manager, Beck’s Hybrids

Ryan Parkin is the marketing communications manager at Beck’s, a family-owned, retail seed company. With his leadership, encouragement, enthusiasm, and motivation, he has led an in-house marketing team to award-winning success. But most importantly, Ryan’s innovative ideas, excellent leadership, and knowledge of the seed industry have helped increase sales across Beck’s marketing area.

Not only is Ryan dedicated to being the most successful marketing communications manager, he’s committed to touching the lives of farmers throughout the country. In 2013, Beck’s launched the “Why I Farm” movement in an effort to honor the American farmer. Ryan’s vision went beyond caring about his role, but doing something bigger than all of us. Since the release of the movement, there have been nearly 16 million online impressions with more than one million page views on the “Why I Farm” website.

Each year, Ryan and his in-house team strive to develop sales materials and an advertising campaign that triggers an emotion, leaves a lasting impression, and generates discussion that ultimately helps to increase sales. In 2013, Beck’s won the Best of Show in Advertising at the Best of NAMA Awards in Kansas City, Mo., for their “Suspect of Success” campaign.

Ryan continues to be engaged in regional NAMA activities. He has helped host a regional meeting and attends meetings when management duties allow. When the Mid-America chapter started to become more active, Ryan encouraged his team members to get involved.

Product/Species Management:

Kelly Smith, Product Management Administrator, Kuhn North America, Inc.

Kelly has greatly added to her overall knowledge of Kuhn products and strategies by becoming more actively involved in the development of one of their key products, the SR 100 GII SpeedRake. She took it upon herself to be a driving force to setup the marketing activities for this product range, including working with marketing on a photo and video shoot for the machine, helping develop the features and benefits PowerPoints and sales booklets that are given out to dealers, as well as writing and delivering the product review video that is shared with customers and dealers through our website and YouTube channel.

Kelly has developed an extensive knowledge of price pack and machine price list creation. She is in charge of developing the Kuhn and Kuhn Knight price books, which include the features and benefits for all of the machines. One major area where Kelly is involved is the Kuhn North America Competitive Intelligence Monitor. This program was initiated last year and is a global initiative to collect information on competitive companies’ sales, developments and marketing activities in order for the company to be well-informed and make better decisions. This allows colleagues in other countries and factories to be more comfortable discussing and investigating opportunities and issues as they know Kelly personally.

Kelly is an active member of Badger NAMA serving as a Careers Co-Chair. In this role, she helps cultivate future agri-marketers as liaison for the University of Wisconsin – Platteville’s student (Pioneer) NAMA chapter. As a liaison for Pioneer NAMA, she offers her professional opinion on marketing plan drafts, serves as the contact between Badger NAMA and Pioneer NAMA, and encourages students to reach new heights with their marketing and career plans. In addition, she sets up meetings between both organizations and encourages student involvement with professional events and tours.

Public Relations:

Lisa Adams, Principal, Public Relations, Sage Virtual Communications

Throughout her career, Lisa Adams has become one of the most recognized and respected agricultural communications and public relations agency professionals in crop production. After more than 20 years of experience encompassing work within highly respected communications agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, AdFarm and Woodruff Sweitzer, Lisa took the ultimate leap and established Sage Virtual Communications, her own public relations entity, in September 2011.

 Leveraging her industry experience, vast network and numerous media relationships, Lisa has built Sage Virtual Communications to be the means by which she can concentrate her time and talent on the strategic as well as tactical needs of clients in a more focused, fast-paced approach that is unmatched by larger agencies. From collaborative crop e-newsletters with highly respected industry editors to forging partnerships with university experts and working with sales personnel to creatively extend their reach, Lisa observes no boundaries when building a successful communications plan.

Lisa’s tremendous work ethic and dedication to her clients’ success has flourished beneath her own entity.  Lisa took the opportunity to start her own business in order to truly dedicate her time and talents on directly impacting her clients’ short and long term business.

A MoKan NAMA Chapter member for years, Lisa’s most profound NAMA impact is through her volunteerism as a Student NAMA Marketing Competition Judge. At the 2012 competition, Lisa served as a semi-finals judge and the year prior as a preliminary round judge, graciously giving of her time, talents and expertise to guide the next generation of agricultural marketers. After her very first judging experience, Lisa expressed that she was “hooked” by the students’ passion, energy and enthusiasm and couldn’t wait to judge again. As a role model for those who think outside the box, Lisa’s own passion for agriculture and agriculture communications shines through to the students while her fair and honest critiques provide valuable insights on areas for improvement toward next year’s competition. As a professional member, being involved in the student competition is one of the greatest, most unselfish contributions one can make toward the future of NAMA, and Lisa benevolently does so year after year.


Gary Vorpahl, Director of Marketing, Hoard’s Dairyman

Gary was hired by W. D. Hoard & Sons Company in 1984 and currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing for Hoard’s Dairyman. Gary’s responsibilities encompass managing a national sales staff, internal market research, publication marketing, and income enhancements. During his tenure, Gary has worked tirelessly to change or help implement change not only at Hoard’s but overall in the world of ag BTB publications.

Here is a sampling of his career achievements; the creation of Hoard’s exclusive-content webinars starting in 2011 and Hoard’s Dairyman Intel starting  in 2013. He provided guidance in the launch of Hoard’s website in 1996 and re-launched with additional staff in 2009 and helped facilitate building the welcome center as part of the new Hoard’s Dairyman parlor/barn facility built in 2007. Gary has been working to make the annual Hoard’s Dairyman Marketing Study the most complete producer survey available to the dairy industry. And working with agencies to develop Hoard’s Dairyman annual Agri-Marketing Cow Judging Contest that has garnered much recognition (wins and merits) at both Regional and National Best of NAMA.

Gary’s enthusiasm for agriculture has led to his involvement and leadership in many industry organizations. He is a key player in the Wisconsin Agri-Business Council, a group comprised of agri-business people and farmers who look out for the interests of agriculture in the state legislature and the public. Since 1984, Gary has been a vital cog in the organization, serving as president for most of his time on the board. He is also past chairman of the American Business Media-Agri Council, which represents the leading agricultural magazine titles in the U.S. and Canada.

Gary has been an active NAMA member since 1974 and has served in a wide array of positions on the chapter, regional and national level including nearly twenty years of service as a chapter officer. He likely holds the chapter record for events attended, and rarely passes up the opportunity to sponsor an event when asked. Perhaps his greatest achievement in all those years of service in NAMA has been in the role of mentor to hundreds of younger members and being an inspiration for anyone looking to succeed in agricultural communications or sales.

Beck Named 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year

Written by NAMA on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 , 8:19 am

SonnyBeck14NAMA is pleased to announce  Sonny Beck, president, Beck’s Hybrids, as the 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This award, which is NAMA’s highest honor, will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference, “A Fresh Perspective,” April 10, 2014, in Jacksonville, Florida. The award honors outstanding leaders in agribusiness, education, government service or other agribusiness related areas who exemplify excellence in agribusiness by their significant contributions to the industry.

Sonny Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids, has led the company to unprecedented growth. As the largest family-owned seed company in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids is now the sixth largest seed company in the U.S. Under Sonny’s leadership, Beck’s Hybrids has experienced a 20 percent increase in sales each year for the last 20 years, doubling in size every four years.

As soon as Beck joined the family operation in 1964, after graduating from Purdue University, he never let grass grow under his feet. Always aiming at building closer, stronger relationships with customers, Beck immediately launched a couple of customer events that are now long-standing traditions.

It was in that same year, Beck started what is now called the Practical Farm Research (PFR)® program. Still today, the PFR program is unlike any other in the seed industry. Focused on farmer’s needs, hundreds of studies are completed at five Beck’s locations in an effort to look at how different management practices perform in different environments. The information is delivered to farmers across the Midwest in a 280-page summary book, website and field shows.

Beck has frequently stated that before 1992 Beck’s Hybrids was a seed producer who happened to do some marketing, but with the arrival of traits, Beck’s became a marketing company who happened to produce most of their own seed.

But it was not just traits that Beck and the Beck’s Hybrids team pursued. In 2001, Beck’s Hybrids was the first to market 100 percent of its seed corn with a seed-applied insect control system called FaSTart®. Over time the seed treatment evolved and in 2009 Beck’s Hybrids became the first seed company to put together a unique set of yield-enhancing products called Escalate® yield enhancement system. Escalate comes standard on all Beck’s corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa products.

Beck’s dedication and passion for agriculture extends far beyond Beck’s Hybrids. He has played an integral role in leading several agricultural organizations, providing each with a unique leadership approach, ultimately guiding them to newer heights.




Hartz Named 2014 NAMA Marketer of the Year

Written by NAMA on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 , 8:18 am

jeffhartz14 NAMA is pleased to announce that Jeff Hartz, director of marketing, Wyffels Hybrids, has been named the 2014 NAMA Marketer of the Year. The NAMA Marketer award will be presented during the Second General Session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference, “A Fresh Perspective” on Thursday, April 10 at 11:00 a.m. in Jacksonville, Florida and is sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine.

Jeff Hartz spent his first 6 to 12 months at Wyffels Hybrids just listening. He asked a lot of questions and attended a lot of meetings. He talked to employees, seed reps and customers…and even competitors. Through this intense discovery period, he defined what Wyffels stood for, how they are different than competitors, what the marketing team needed to focus its efforts on and new, strategic growth strategies.

Hartz has been instrumental in improving customer retention year over year. Each year his goal is to meet or exceed 60% of new customers’ business in year two. As of today, Wyffels Hybrids has reached 67% retention rate of new customers and 78% continued customer retention, the highest in the business along with one of the industry leaders, according to market research.

Hartz understood that Wyffels Hybrids is a challenger brand in a cluttered and confusing market. He took what he already knew through his years of experience about challenger brands and applied that knowledge, along with market research, to Wyffels. He also considered what he found to be true about the company’s products and people through his discovery process. Then, he built a branding document around that knowledge and insight that company leaders and all employees now use to help guide nearly every decision they make.

As the marketing director, Hartz oversees all strategic marketing efforts including advertising and public relations and the development of the Wyffels brand. He works closely with growers, the sales force and the National Sales Director to develop programs and materials that meet their needs and reinforce Wyffels’ position as one of the leading independent seed corn companies in the industry. His role is constantly evolving as a member of the leadership team.

Hartz became active on a national scale with NAMA when he joined the Careers Committee in 2008 and provided value to that committee for three years, motivating future members of the ag marketing industry. He also encouraged one of his team members to join the committee, securing a continued commitment from Wyffels Hybrids.

His work as vice chair, then chair of the Best of NAMA Committee in 2012 ensured members received recognition for the outstanding work accomplished. He also served as a national awards judge in 2010 and 2014. As a former advertising creative copywriter, Hartz has always had an eye for excellence in marketing communications efforts and thrives on applauding the creative efforts of his peers, realizing that some of the best work in today’s marketplace is coming from those in agriculture.

Fall Conference Amazing Success

Written by NAMA on Friday, September 27, 2013 , 8:02 am

13fallgate2The 2013 Fall Conference was a big success with nearly 200 attendees in St. Louis at the Ritz-Carlton.

The Gateway Ag Tour kicked off the conference with a visit to the Monsanto Chesterfield Village facility and Chandler Hill Vineyards.

Keynote speaker Dr. Benjamin Akande opened the Fall Conference with a discussion on “Leading From Where You Are.”  He shared thought-provoking ideas and suggestions on how to be an effective, results focused leader within your organization.

Afternoon breakout sessions on the first day of  Fall Conference targeted agri-marketers ready to move up the career ladder and included in-depth topics such as mobile digital strategy, dealing with data storage in the Cloud and an Addy-winning case study.

The day ended with a networking reception at the new offices of  Brighton Agency.  Attendees enjoyed appetizers and cocktails courtesy of Brighton.

13fallbillickFormer NFL head coach Brian Billick was the morning keynote speaker on day two.  Billick,  Super Bowl winning coach for the Baltimore Ravens and now an analyst for Fox Sports, talked to us about the essential elements for success that make up any dream team – on the football field or in the workplace. Listen to snippets from his talk – Billick1 or Billick 2.

13fallpanelMorning breakout sessions included topics on climate change and agriculture, baseline agriculture outlook and a panel discussion on the need for a new farm bill.

At the closing lunch, NAMA presented the 2013 Professional  Awards of Excellence.  These awards honor NAMA members with hands-on responsibility in marketing  and communications, public relations, product/species management and sales.  Congratulations to Gary Sakin – Monsanto, Linda Romander – broadhead., Zach Hetterick – Case IH, and Jay Carlson – Penton/Farm Progress.  Listen to the audio presentation of the PDA awards.

A perfect closing to the Fall Conference was  Tom Wilson, Monsanto US Marketing Lead, Deeds, Traits and Chemistry.  Tom provided a view of what ag is facing today and what lies ahead.

13fallgavelThis meeting also marked the passing of the gavel from 2013 NAMA President Paul Redhage, FMC Agricultural Products, to incoming president Kenna Rathai, Kenna B. Rathai Communications.  Listen to Passing of the Gavel remarks.

An ABEF fundraiser was added to the conference this year to raise funds and create awareness about ABEF and how the foundation funds and supports student opportunities. This effort raised over 13fallabef$1000 that will go towards  scholarships, internships, student competitions and more to agri-marketing students across the country.  Attendees could purchase squares that referenced “ABEF” trivia  for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Starbucks or Best Buy.

A special congratulations to our incoming  executive committee members!  Scott McClure – Brighton Agency and Amber Harrison – United Suppliers, Inc.

View photos from the Gateway Ag Tour and the Fall Conference on Flickr or





Meet the 2013 Professional Development Award Winners

Written by NAMA on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 , 10:21 am

Gary Sakin

NAMA is proud to introduce this year’s recipients.  Congratulations!

Marketing Communications – Gary Sakin, Monsanto
Gary joined Monsanto in November of 2006, and has made impactful changes to how Monsanto approaches branding, measures marcom impact, and engages with its audiences. Currently, Gary is a key member of Monsanto’s U.S. Marketing Leadership Team, serving as Director of  Advertising,  and is involved in providing strategic recommendations and counsel that includes Monsanto’s seed, biotechnology, prescriptive agriculture and chemistry brands. He manages multi-agency relationships, oversees tradeshow contracts and participation, identifies and monitors industry trends and their impact on Monsanto marketing objectives, drives overall brand planning, and helps guide Monsanto’s significant overall advertising presence.

In the last 2 years, Gary has led efforts to create a digital vision for Monsanto that includes efforts ranging from external and internal communications to online measurement of both digital and traditional media and customer reach. He also has provided support for efforts as diverse as the 100th anniversary of the DEKALB brand to the successful launches of new products and technologies.

Gary serves on the Advisory Board for the Marketing Supply Chain Institute, a dedicated knowledge center focused on benchmark studies, cost audits and competency assessments, content aggregation, report publication and syndication, peer-to-peer interactions, best practice development, vertical industry analytics, and global models and frameworks for strategic sourcing and supplier management.

NAMA has tremendously benefitted from Gary’s energy and imagination, both personally and professionally. He has served as a Best of NAMA judge at both the regional and national levels for multiple years, and encouraged both Monsanto and agency personnel to volunteer as regional judges. He is chair of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference Committee, leading the committee as it identifies topics and speakers in support of the professional development of conference attendees. Gary also helped shape sessions as vice chair in 2013 and served as a session moderator in 2012 and 2013.

Linda RomanderPublic Relations – Linda Romander, broadhead.
A senior public relations manager at leading agribusiness marketing agency broadhead., Linda has achieved a great deal since her arrival in 2005. Since day one, she has fast become the go to resource for clients seeking sound PR strategy and vision, as well as a mentor for our firm’s younger staff and teams.

At broadhead., Linda is a long-time and deeply trusted counselor for the Almond Board of California (ABC). Since 2009, Linda has spearheaded content development for ABC, deploying more than 300 pages across ABC’s grower and handler websites (, Linda is now working on re-branding ABC’s California Almond Sustainability Program, including an outbound initiative to inform almond growers of the program and its value for them.

Linda is overseeing the creation of several industry pieces for the California Avocado Commission (CAC). The CAC came to broadhead. after witnessing the food safety communications program for ABC. Projects assigned include assisting in the development of the CAC’s sustainability program and Good Agricultural Practices/Good Harvesting Practices program, which serve as resources for California avocado growers to help them make their operations as efficient as possible.

Linda first joined the National Agri-Marketing Association in the early 1970s. In addition to helping develop regional and national Best of NAMA winning work, she has held a variety of leadership roles, including serving as president of the Western Pacific Chapter. Linda is currently a regional director for Region I. In the more than 40 years she has been involved with NAMA, she has participated in NAMA programs and has consistently provided leadership at the local and regional levels. Linda has always been an outstanding voice for the agriculture industry and has led by example for countless fellow NAMA members.

Zach HetterickProduct/Species Management – Zach Hetterick, Case IH
Zach has distinguished himself in the past two years, leading the charge at Case IH for the Livestock/Hay/Forage business as Livestock Marketing Manager. While in this role, he has successfully spearheaded several new product launches, including the Case IH LB4 large square baler, and current launches for the WD3 series windrower, DC3 series disc mower conditioner, and RB565 round baler. In addition, he’s overseen Farmall marketing managers in successfully launching the Case IH Farmall B CVT, C, and U tractors. These may seem just like ordinary product launches, but for livestock producers, this equipment will meet their unique needs for versatile, rugged equipment, and Zach keenly understands and communicates to others the impact this equipment can have to a livestock producer’s operation.

In addition to successful product launches, Zach has confidently weathered internal Case IH business model changes directly affecting the livestock/hay/forage area. The livestock/hay/forage division has recently added eight new livestock/hay/forage specialists out in the field to assist Case IH dealers and customers, and Zach has played an integral role in this effort.

Zach has been invaluable to the growth of the mutually beneficial working relationship between Case IH and Farm Bureau, both on state and national levels. He has overseen the expansion of the Farm Bureau discount program, allowing farmers in many states to receive $300 to $500 off when purchasing qualifying Case IH equipment from participating dealerships, including tractors, hay tools and utility vehicles that can boost their productivity and add value to their operations.

Zach has stepped up his NAMA involvement in the past year, attending various events to improve his professional expertise and build his professional network. In addition, he has served as an excellent Case IH representative and has helped build and maintain positive business relationships through his NAMA participation. In April, he joined the Badger NAMA Board of Directors, and is already contributing value to the group by offering new, refreshing ideas, agricultural business perspective, and enthusiasm. He also serves as a Best of NAMA co-chair for the Badger chapter and is assisting with planning for special events and professional development opportunities for his fellow marketing colleagues.

Jay CarlsonSales – Jay Carlson, Penton Media – BEEF Magazine
As regional sales manager for BEEF magazine and its digital communications properties, Jay is arguably the nation’s top marketer on a volume basis of print and online livestock advertising. He has been a key innovator in U.S. livestock publishing, developing a number of key instruments and programs that continue to meet the needs of both U.S. livestock producers and U.S. product marketers.

Among these is his role in the creation of BEEF Cow-Calf Weekly, the most successful weekly newsletter in livestock publishing; American Cowman, a digital newsletter and website for small-scale U.S. beef producers; BEEF Daily electronic newsletter; and BEEF Vet, a spring 2012 startup print publication for U.S. beef cattle veterinarians that began running quarterly in 2013.

Jay Carlson has long been a top promoter of livestock publishing in North America. He was awarded the Ed Bible Distinguished Service Award in 2006 for his record fundraising efforts on behalf of the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) Gala.

Jay has been a member of the MoKan chapter since 1987. His NAMA duties and recognitions include: Chapter, Agri-Marketer of the Year chair; Chapter, Careers chair; National Agri-Marketing Conference Trade Show Committee member; Chapter, Recognition chair; Chapter, Special Projects chair; Chapter, 2nd/3rd Vice President; Chapter, Membership chair; National Membership Committee member, vice chair and chair; and Chapter, President. Under his leadership, the chapter earned the Gold Outstanding Chapter award.

Nominate Your Peers For An Award Of Excellence

Written by NAMA on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 , 1:29 am

The Professional Development Awards of Excellence honor NAMA members based on outstanding achievement in each of the Professional Development Areas (PDA). Awards of Excellence will be presented in the areas of (1) Marketing Communications, (2) Product/Species Management, (3) Public Relations and (4) Sales.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the Professional Development Awards of Excellence is July 26, 2013.  These awards will be presented at the 2013 Fall Conference, September 17 – 18, at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis, Missouri.

Below is a list of the past Awards of Excellence recipients:

Marketing Communications
2012 – Troy Schroeder
2011 – Margaret Fogarty
2010 – Scott McClure
2009 – Lou Ireland
2008 – Paul Redhage
2007 – Pete Kovac
2006 – Steve Engle
2005 – Bev Larson
2004 – Neil DeStefano
2003 – Sarah Vacek
2002 – Ken Anderson
2001 – Doug Headley

Product/Species Management
2012 – Kevin Bien
2011 – Stephanie Gable
2010 – Elena Lindemann
2009 – Gary Robertson
2008 – No award was given in this area
2007 – Klaas Okkinga
2006 – No award was given in this area
2005 – Dennis Gehler
2004 – Wendy Elliott
2003 – Brian Markwardt
2002 – Tony Klemm
2001 – Tony Solon

Public Relations
2012 – Justin Funk
2011 – Chuck Zimmerman
2010 – Sue Otten
2009 – Deron Johnson
2008 – Beth Andersen
2007 – Greg Smith
2006 – Barry Nelson
2005 – Janice Person
2004 – Kendal Frazier
2003 – Mike Ricciuto
2002 – David Buchholz
2001 – Ken Gordon

2012 – John Rozum
2011 – Sue Lee
2010 – Marvin Kokes
2009 – Pete Weil
2008 – Vernon Benes
2007 – Bill Heffron
2006 – Anita Vanderwert
2005 – Margaret Wallace Oldham
2004 – Allen Barkve
2003 – Cliff Becker
2002 – Bob Deiss
2001 – Tom Taylor

Nominees for the Awards of Excellence must be NAMA members. Nominators should target individuals with direct planning and execution responsibilities in the respective Professional Development Area from agribusiness and related companies. If you have any questions regarding these awards, please contact Jenny Pickett at

To download the nomination form in an Adobe .PDF format, visit

You can also fill out the form on-line at

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