Rob Henderson Reflects on His 40-Year Career in the Agriculture Industry
re-tire-ment noun: The action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work
When I think of retirement, I don’t think of ceasing to work – rather beginning a different type of work.
I started out in the agricultural industry with Ranco Fertiservice, Inc. in March of 1982. I knew nothing about fertilizer other than I used it on my lawn. I was a journeyman electrician working for Iowa Public Service, a power company when I started with Ranco where I ended up spending 21 years as a Salesman and Sales Manager. From there I went to Waconia Manufacturing (now Sackett Waconia) where I spent 13 years and eventually became Vice President of Sales and Marketing. I learned a lot in the last 40 years and established many long-term relationships with some of the best people I know. In 2017 some of those close relationships opened a door with a new opportunity at Marcus Construction. I had worked with Marcus on numerous projects over 34 years providing dry fertilizer handling equipment in their buildings.
The dry and liquid fertilizer business is unique as many people outside of the industry don’t know that it even exists. When people ask me what I do they often think I am involved with manure. I won’t say I haven’t spread some of that throughout the years...but the agriculture industry is not what many think.
The fertilizer industry is very large but very close knit. It seems everyone knows everyone and all the moves they make. If you don’t know someone – you eventually will. It seems most everyone are friends, and they work together. Many times, throughout my career deals have been made with a handshake and your word. Your reputation and integrity are paramount, as word travels fast. I will never forget the words of a real cowboy (he owned two Corvettes), “If this works the way you say it will, I might tell a few people. But if it doesn’t, you can darn sure bet I will tell everyone I know!” I have always remembered that. You must stand by your word and deliver what you promised.
Humor & Highlights
I have traveled to 47 of the 50 states, the only ones I haven’t been to are Rhode Island, Alaska, and Hawaii. I have been to Europe nine times, to 10 different countries, and to Canada more times than I can count – meeting wonderful people in all those travels. I would never have had those opportunities if not for this great industry.
I think of the memories over the years. When I was with Ranco, I will never forget traveling with one of the sales guys and we always roomed together. In the middle of the night, I heard someone knocking on our door. I said to the other guy “get up and answer the door” like three times. Finally, I got up to answer it and looked out the peep hole. Here was the other sales guy cowering in the hall wanting to get back in the room! He had gotten up to use the bathroom and went out of the room door into the hall and the door shut and locked behind him. Of course, what happens on the road stays on the road. Most of the time, but this was too funny to not tell! I will never forget the Ole and Sven skit Randy Wright and I did up in Canada trying to win a contest at the Canadian fertilizer convention. There are many more stories too numerous to tell – and some that shouldn’t be told!
When I first came to Marcus Construction, I wasn’t sure where my first building sale would come from. I had worked with Marcus on a project in Fertile, MN when I was at Waconia and it had kind of “died on the vine.” One of my first phone calls I contacted Dwight Christian of TDS to let him know I was now with Marcus and he said to get up there and see him. I went up and saw him and his brother. We drew it up and they made a few modifications and the next thing I know he calls and says get up here and let’s get this going. It was a total surprise. I want to thank Marcus Construction for the opportunity to work for a great company with many wonderful people, and the experiences I have had here. Learning is a continuing process and I really enjoyed learning more about Marcus Construction and the construction process. Thank you to everyone who helped me gain knowledge that I won’t forget. The two-year project my wife Pat and I moved to Texas for was a great experience. We feel it was a huge success for Marcus and NeuAG. We were able to see many sites while there and we really enjoyed the Gulf. We went through three hurricanes, a February freeze and we successfully navigated Covid without catching it.
Looking forward to retirement, I thank everyone who taught me to be the person I am today. I learned a lot from my mentors, customers, and co-workers. Experiences are the great memories I have and will never forget. The opportunity to travel and meet many great people everywhere I went. I wish I would have slowed down and “smelled the roses” at the places I traveled. Many of the people I have worked with have become lifelong friends.
I now look forward to traveling with Pat to show her some of the places I have been as she only traveled with me to one trade show in the last 40 years. We like Arizona so we might become “snowbirds.” I look forward to playing more golf and spending time with family and friends.
It’s a little scary to think about retirement. Not going to work every day and getting excited about a lead, and then the real excitement when you get the sale. That’s when the real work begins along with the celebration. But this permanent vacation I will be on now will give me time to catch up on the things I have been thinking of doing for years and you never know, I might complete the list Pat has for me.
It has truly been a pleasure to finish my career with Marcus Construction. Thank you for everything, stay safe and I wish you much success in the future.
Rob Henderson started with Marcus Construction in March of 2017 as Business Development in the Agricultural Industries Division, but has been a friend to the Marcus team for years with his previous equipment experience. With Marcus, Rob’s territory was primarily through the corn belt, but he traveled the United States and Canada for customers and trade shows. His final two years with Marcus included moving with his wife to Texas for a project. Rob’s vast knowledge of equipment, electrical, the agriculture industry – and even his daily joke will be missed by the Marcus team. From everyone at Marcus Construction, we wish Rob relaxing days ahead on the golf course and safe travels with Pat.
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