Land O’Lakes employees agree: Everything we do is for farmers. So, employees across departments appreciate every chance to understand more about members’ operations and to say “thank you” face-to-face.
This fall, three employee groups — the Dairy Foods Integrated Marketing Communication team (IMC), Innovation and Technology and Growing Leaders — headed out to member farms and co-ops to get to know members and tour their facilities.
The Dairy Foods IMC team not only promotes Land O’Lakes dairy, they work to share farmer stories with consumers and raise awareness that we are farmer-owned. Some of the campaigns they’ve work on include things like SHE-I-O, the All Together Better™ campaign and the On Her Farm Series. The day before National Farmer’s Day, the team hit the road to show their appreciation to the farmers who make their jobs possible.
Working closely with member relations, the Land O’Lakes Foundation and the Culinary Center, the Dairy Foods IMC team pulled together a list of farm contacts, assembled care packages and visited eight of our member farms.
“We pour a lot of energy into our farmer-owned value proposition – from our products to our marketing strategies every day,” says Alison Klehr, Dairy Foods IMC Marketing Director. “With harvest underway, we felt it important to connect with our farmers, acknowledge their hard work and commitment by demonstrating our own commitment to them and really, very simply, just say thank you. What better day than National Farmer’s Day to visit some of our member farms, shake their hands and wish them a fruitful season?”
Commenting on the visit, Danielle Brownlee, DF IMC Relationship Marketing Associate says, “I was raised on a cattle farm and growing up, I didn’t understand how important our work [as farmers] really was. Now that I work on the business side of things, I see all that goes into the products we market. It’s incredible that it all starts on family farms like the one I grew up on, like the ones we visited.”
As an innovation architect on Land O’Lakes’ technology and innovation team, Arun Purushothaman relies on understanding the root of a problem in order design the best solution for it.
“It makes a world of difference when we hear actual problems from the customers and end-users themselves,” he says.
Arun and several technology employees visited Countryside Cooperative in Wisconsin, where the team got to ask co-op employees questions about the very challenges that they try to solve every day.
The team also toured Rose Rusk Holsteins, where they received a crash course in agriculture basics — both growing practices and the business of farming — grounding the team in what they can do to help improve efficiencies for farmers.
Overall, Arun says, the experience was “a good way for IT employees to [focus] on a common goal: our customers and their important problems.”
Through the Growing Leaders employee group, representatives across the organization participate in programming to develop their skills as leaders. This includes opportunities to gain exposure to different business units and parts that make up the co-op — the farmer being at the center.
Earlier this year, the Growing Leaders group visited Central Farms Services and toured Wolf Creek Dairy, offering them the chance to learn from both an ag retailer and a member farm.
Having grown up with family in dairy, Growing Leaders participant and senior portfolio manager Jen Tonder knew that farming practices have changed since she was close to the farm. She embraced the chance to learn about current practices related to sustainability and sourcing from members themselves.
“I could have spent all day on the dairy farm asking more and more.” Tonder was also inspired by member-owner Barb Liebenstein’s engagement in industry. Tonder says, “Hearing her passion and commitment further motivates all of us as employees.”
Spending time with our members and learning about their operations connects the dots between our organization from one end (the business side) to the other (the member side). Business employees are better able to serve the people who make Land O’Lakes possible – by listening, learning and appreciating – we work harder and smarter to keep the company going strong.