Most companies can’t claim 30 years of experience themselves, but Jenner Ag has a single employee with 30 years! Dave Schmidt, U-Maxx Service Technician, has been a crucial part of our service force for the past three decades. “Nowadays, they say the average amount of time someone works at a company is three to four years. I pride myself on being a part of the Jenner Ag team for three decades. I have seen how the company changes and adapts with the times to keep up with the needs of their customers,” he says.
Customer service is key, and no one knows that better than Dave. “The lesson that stands out the most from my 30 years at Jenner Ag is when a customer has an issue, the quicker you can address and resolve that issue, the better the business. I always tell people, don’t put things off, especially when it involves a customer. Bigger companies have a hard time addressing those issues fast; the team at Jenner Ag works to resolve issues as fast as we can for a better customer experience.”
Dave says being at one company so long allows him to learn the ins and out of not only the company but the industry as a whole. “My favorite part of my job is also what has taught me the most: running our machines and putting myself in the shoes of the operators,” he explains. “As a U-Maxx Tech, you are tasked with working on the machines, but you seldom get to go out and just enjoy using the machines for what they were built for. [Making a point to use] the equipment allows me to know what an operator does daily and helps me connect with that side of the business.
He believes you need to not only understand your customers but also your fellow associates. “It is good to know how a different department within the company is doing. Then you can understand better why a department is making the decisions that they are,” Dave says. “It helps you relate to other associates in different areas of the company and in turn gives you more knowledge about your own job.
Fully understanding both your customer base and the other members of your own team allows you to do your job to the best of your ability. “If you know what challenges your team is facing, it better prepares you to deal with anything that comes your way,” he says. “All of us at Jenner Ag are a team, but we are also more than that; we are a family. Jenner Nation means my business family to me; it’s that simple.”
When a customer’s uptime is at stake, thanks to the most complex challenges, we bring in one of our talented U-Maxx Technicians, the elite, most highly trained service techs in the Jenner Ag team. Matt Zimmerman, U-Maxx Technician, has been serving the Jenner Ag customer base proudly for 14 years. He says every day is an opportunity for him to learn something and for him to teach someone else.
“I enjoy what I do because I help people. I work with customers in the field when they are experiencing downtime and working to meet deadlines, and I collaborate with new technicians, training them on how to handle those situations. When I am working with customers in the field, I am helping them solve their problems, and that is rewarding by itself,” says Matt.
“When I am out there afterhours or early in the morning working on a machine, I try to put myself in the customer’s shoes to understand their work load or their way of thinking so I can better help them solve their problem. Relating to them helps me serve them better.”
Matt believes his training with Jenner Ag has taught him how to better relate to not only customers, but other associates as well. “We are encouraged to work as a team, whether you’re from different departments or not; we strive to work together effectively and efficiently to meet goals and give our customers the best experience possible when they choose Jenner Ag,” says Matt. “We learn to work together as one and see multiple points of view, which makes us more successful communicators.”
When Matt gets in his truck and goes to work, he reminds himself that being in the field makes him a visible part of the Jenner Nation, and he takes that responsibility seriously. “Because I directly interact with customers on an almost daily basis, I am one of the people out there directly representing Jenner Ag, and like every one of our associates, I am part of our brand. I take that seriously and always try to promote and uphold the brand.”
Matthew Wright, Building Maintenance & Facility Repair, is one of the faces of Jenner Nation that you can see just about everywhere. Whether he is running a part across Indiana to help a Field Service Technician, assisting the guys in the shop or fixing something, he is always giving it 100%. “The diversity of my day-to-day job is what makes me excited to come to work. On any given day I can work a variety of jobs; I’m everywhere,” said Matthew.
Working in a variety of positions might wear some people out, but not Matthew. “I’m lucky my job challenges me every day; being able to think on my feet and problem solve keeps me engaged. When you finally come up with the most effective solution, it gives you a huge sense of pride,” says Matthew. “I also enjoy helping out members of our team that are in the field. By running a part to a technician in the field, I can help a customer maximize their uptime and ensure they get the best experience possible with Jenner Ag.”
He prides himself on the work he does and the relationships he builds with fellow associates. “I want Jenner Ag to be the best it can be, so my work needs to be as pristine as possible. I put all I have in to fixing something,” says Matthew.
Working as hard as he can and always being willing to ask for help allows Matthew to be an active member of the Jenner Nation. He believes the secret to the culture at Jenner Ag is that you are viewed as an asset and not a liability. “Most companies treat you as just another person on the payroll, but here you are valued, and that makes a world of difference in our attitudes and the way we do our jobs,” says Matthew.
“Not only does management value us, but we value each other. Anyone you ask for help is willing to help out a fellow team member. Everyone is willing to teach, and everyone is willing to learn. It makes for the best workplace culture I have been a part of.”
Tim Conaway has been building anhydrous and liquid toolbars for four years as Shop Foreman at the Jenner Precision location, and to this day he is still amazed by the amount of information he encounters daily.
“We are constantly learning new things and sharing information that will make life better for our customers, by making us more knowledgeable and efficient at our jobs,” says Tim. “I’ve been building these anhydrous and liquid bars for years, and in 30 minutes at one of our sales meetings, I’ve learned more about the product I’m building than I have in all the years I’ve been putting it together.”
He jokes that there is so much knowledge available in everyday conversations within the company that everyone should be writing everything they hear down. “Just in random conversation, you can pick up little bits of information that will become valuable at some point in time. It may be six months down the road, but it will happen,” says Tim.
Being in one of the three locations Jenner Ag has allows him to have perspective on how well management communicates with each location. “There is more face-to-face interaction here than at other companies. Not only do you receive the standard emails, phone calls and text messages; management stops in and just asks you, ‘Hey what’s going on?’ If anything happens, instead of just sending an email, they show up and have a conversation with you. I think that opens doors for information sharing between locations that you don’t see many places,” says Tim.
Tim recalls knowing even in his interview how important learning and communication is at Jenner Ag. “My biggest takeaway during my first encounter with Jenner Ag was being told that the possibilities for personal and professional growth here are limitless,” he says. “That growth is largely possible because everybody is willing to learn something new; nobody comes to work with the attitude ‘I know everything.’ We realize that we can learn from one another, and we share information to better ourselves.”
James Fehr, VP of National Accounts, has been a proud member of the Jenner Nation for 21 years. He has held various positions within the company and continues to work toward a better future for the organization, its customers and the industry. James says he is proof of one of the greatest aspects of Jenner Ag. “The opportunities to grow at Jenner Ag are endless; I am a perfect example of that,” says James. “I started as an account manager associate, then became a senior account manager. From there, I went on to be a sales director and general manager. Now, I have the ability to get back into sales, managing relationships with our national accounts.”
James believes that Jenner Ag offers associates the room for growth if they are willing to put in the commitment and work it takes to achieve their goals. “We are big enough that we have those opportunities for advancement, but we are small enough you can communicate your desire to change positions, and we are always looking to grow within," said James.
“One of the most rewarding mantras I have taken away from my time at Jenner Ag was in the form of a saying I was taught: The ball never hits the ground,” James says. "What that means is that when we have a situation, there are always multiple people that step up, so that the ball never hits the ground.
“That is something I have personally experienced, whether it be when I had a situation that I couldn’t solve on my own and someone from our team helped me, or when I was able to step up and work with someone else to help them,” he explains. “The relationships we have with our customers are all possible due to the extraordinary team we have at Jenner Ag and the team members working behind the scenes to meet their exact needs.”
Joel Harmon says being a Field Service Technician at Jenner Ag isn’t like your average job – and he should know; he’s been doing it for 14 years. “I can be 200 miles from the main office on a normal day. Being that far away from management puts a lot of responsibility on the individual, which has helped me grow as my own person,” says Joel. “I am responsible for managing my time, truck, and the relationships I have with not only my customers, but my fellow coworkers. Being a self-motivated individual, this type of atmosphere is perfect for me.”
Joel’s favorite part of working at Jenner Ag is the trust given to its associates, and the service technicians in particular. “We don’t do the typical the service manager to service technician protocol here. Each technician deals directly with their customers instead of our managers being involved in every interaction,” he says. “This creates an environment where technicians can build a better level of trust with customers and operators.”
Joel believes the level of trust Jenner Ag allows customers to build with their service techs opens the door for better and stronger relationships. “Dealing directly with my customers and not having to work through a middle man has allowed me to call my customers friends. They have come to rely on my help and advice to get them through their work that needs to be done. Our communication and understanding with customers is all one-on-one, and that makes a difference in the way customers view Jenner Ag service technicians.
“We can do our jobs the way we know how, and they trust us to get the job done,” says Joel. “But, management is approachable if we need help or there is an issue. We are all on the same team, and you constantly see that. I really respect the way Jenner Ag runs. The transparency and open-book management creates more trust. We are never sidelined by some decision that comes out of the blue and affects the direction of the company. There is a sense of comfort in that,” says Joel. “Jenner Ag gives you the freedom to excel at your position, but the opportunity to constantly receive new training and ask management for help if you need it.”
Jenner Ag takes great pride in associates who go above and beyond to really make those connections with each other and customers. Melissa Williams, Parts Specialist, is one of those associates who in her two years at the company has shown the motivation the Jenner Nation prides itself on. “Being a member of the Jenner Nation has changed everything about the way I do my job in the day to day,” says Melissa. “They educate us on various topics and skills such as: parts knowledge, business and financial knowledge, interpersonal relationship management and communications tactics. There aren’t a lot of topics Jenner Ag doesn’t cover; we are constantly being educated. It’s almost like getting a free college education.”
One extraordinary task Melissa completed in 2018 was achieving $2 million in parts sales. “Everyone at Jenner Ag has been extremely proud of me for achieving that goal. Not only have I received recognition in meetings and pats on the back; I remember when it happened getting a giant cupcake with whipped cream and a cherry on top from another associate,” says Melissa.
“As a Parts Sales Specialist, achieving more in parts sales is great, but it’s nothing compared to the long-lasting relationships I’m building with customers when making the sales,” says Melissa. Selling isn’t only about communication skills, she says; receiving the technical training necessary to help customers is also a must. “My $2 million in sales was made possible by a combination of things. To start with, I had to have a mixture of relationships built with customers and the latest industry knowledge to back it up.”
Melissa says that while relationships with customers are crucial, if you don’t have the industry knowledge to answer questions, you won’t make the sales. “I can be best friends with a customer, but if I don’t know what I’m talking about, no one will want to buy parts from me,” says Melissa. “The continuous training Jenner Ag offers allows associates to stay current and up to date on the latest information.”
Melissa says her success is in part due all she has learned at Jenner Ag. “Associates should take the company up on any offer of education that is given to them. Anyone who works here and isn’t thrilled to participate in meetings and take every class that you can isn’t living up to their full potential,” says Melissa. “Trust me when I say, no other company offers this to the same extent. I’ve worked at a lot of different places, and none of them came close to this. When I first started, I had to convince myself it all wasn’t too good to be true.”
When you work at a company that practices transparency the way Jenner Ag does, you need someone to help communicate one of the basic building blocks of any company: the financials. Melissa Koehler is one of the many members of Jenner Nation who share their knowledge with associates, so everyone can understand and be empowered to think and act as owners.
As Corporate Controller, Melissa works closely with the financials of the company. “Coming from an accounting firm, I had a hard time at first explaining to people how to look at tax codes or work with the numbers on their own, and working at Jenner Ag, I learned how to communicate and relay my knowledge in a way other people can understand,” says Melissa.
“Jenner Ag has helped me learn how to effectively teach and share my knowledge with the associates about what the numbers mean and how they can affect those numbers every day. Associates are always eager to learn about the financials and striving to gain that knowledge to better understand the numbers.”
Knowledge sharing just is one of the ways Jenner Ag brings its associates together, Melissa says. Having different departments’ team members interact and discuss ideas on what we can do to maintain and improve the numbers is always something a company should encourage.
“It’s a culture of growth and knowledge sharing. I believe it brings out leadership in everyone. Not just the managers; it gives everyone the tools it takes to be a leader, myself included,” says Melissa.
Weston Stork, Field Service Technician, is a proud five-year member of Jenner Nation at our Jenner Precision location. “We have a great environment here at Jenner Ag; whenever a new employee starts, they talk about how their old bosses or fellow employees could be aggressive and hard to get along with. You just don’t hear of that happening here; all the managers encourage us to communicate with them and each other,” says Weston.
With Jenner Ag having three separate locations covering different aspects of the industry, it’s important to stay connected. “Just last week I worked with a fellow employee located out of our Harristown office. We were working on a sprayer that was running both application and precision equipment; without both of us there offering our specific expertise, it wouldn’t have gone as smoothly,” he says.
“Jenner Ag encourages all of us to meet our full potential, both individually and as a unit. Since my employment at Jenner Ag began, I have been encouraged to step outside of my shell. I have been told that just because I have a certain job title doesn’t mean that particular skillset is all I can offer the company,” Weston says.
He adds that one aspect of Jenner Ag that allows all three locations to run as a cohesive team is the fact that Jenner Ag plays the Great Game of Business (GGOB). “Other companies in the agriculture industry don’t play the GGOB; that is one of the things that sets us apart,” he says. “The Game brings a level of transparency that creates an open flow of information. We see the financials of the company; we know what upper management is doing with income. It creates an accountability, but it also creates a bond.” A bond that Weston says helps every member of that team work together as one.
For Jeff Rocke, education – inside and in the field – sets Jenner Ag apart from the rest. “When I started, I knew nothing,” says Jeff Rocke Senior Account Manager. “There was always somebody at Jenner Ag who had the answer and was willing to help me – there still is. That’s what makes Jenner Ag such a successful company; they create an environment where their employees are a family by encouraging them to work together and meet goals as a team.”
Jeff says the culture is like no other, and keeping promises to customers is non-negotiable. “One of the things I have taken away from Jenner Ag culture is ‘Be your word,’” he says. “Our CEO has said that; my superiors have said that, time and time again. It’s what we strive for.”
And being able to keep your word to customers isn’t a one-person job, says Jeff. “When I’m the only person from Jenner Ag that customers see out in the field, they expect those promises I made them to be kept,” he says. “Having people around me that help me to be my word and other employees that are their word makes it easier to do a quality job and keep those promises.”
It’s not just a sale, he says, it’s the start of a relationship. “We do a good job of building relationships with customers. I can sell anybody a machine one time, but if everybody in the company doesn’t take care of that customer from Sales to Parts, Service, Accounting and Administration, and we don’t value their relationship with us, I won’t ever sell them another machine,” Jeff says. “It’s the customer satisfaction that allows us to know it’s not just selling this machine; it’s when 10 years down the road they need another machine, they look to us versus competitors because we valued their relationship.”
Maintaining relationships with customers is possible in large part because of the transparency Jenner Ag offers, Jeff explains. “We always know where the company is at financially; we always know the goals we are striving to hit,” he says. “The transparency is something I don’t think you find anywhere else. You don’t have a clue what the company is up to at a lot of places; previous employers that I had don’t set goals for what you need to hit at the end of each quarter or year. Once you understand the culture and why we do things the way we do, it’s the greatest learning experience. You’ll never find another company that matches what we do.”