An Agriculture Career Built On DreamsActions
Chris Iverson may not have grown up on a farm, but he started dreaming about working in agriculture at a very young age. “My dream as a little kid was to run my grandfather’s dairy farm. He retired from the business when I was 12, so that dream never came to fruition.” He chuckled: “I offered, but they wouldn’t let me take it on.”
Little did he realize that when he hopped onto a career path with Co-op two years later at the age of 14, it would eventually lead him to realize his passion to work in agriculture. After 25 years with Co-op, Iverson is now in the role of Agro Division Manager, leading up to 70 staff in-season and supporting farm customers at Twin Valley Co-op in Manitoba.
He wears many hats, managing a robust ag equipment business, partnering with a neighbouring Co-op to open up new opportunities in the large bin sector, working with his team to run an anhydrous ammonia business, and offering dry fertilizer, crop protection and seed.
“I never get bored. Every day is different and brings new challenges,” he said.
The large-diameter bin business is one example of a new challenge.
“As agriculture changes and things get bigger, we want to stay relevant,” Iverson said. “In a joint venture with Valley View Co-op, we built our first large-diameter bin earlier this year, and we’re excited to be able to offer these to the members of both Co-ops. They are built locally by our crews, and they’re a product we’re proud to stand behind.”
Looking back, you could say his childhood dream was one he “built on.” He got his start in the home and building department, doing management training in home and building materials. When an opportunity came up to move to the agricultural side of the business 10 years ago, he took it wholeheartedly. “I jumped at the opportunity,” he recalled. “I love working with growers to make their operations more profitable.”
Like agriculture, every day in Iverson’s life at Twin Valley Co-op is different. “The question is always: what is the most important thing for our customer today? The answer changes depending on what markets are doing. Our approach is to sit down together and work with our customers, to figure out how to be successful, extracting the most profit from production.”
Twin Valley Co-op prides itself on having many long-term customers whose families have dealt with the business for generations. “Relationships are a big part of the business for us. If we are going to truly work together, we need to be open and honest and share all the time,” he notes.
The emphasis on healthy relationships and breadth of experience extends wider throughout the Co-operative Retailing System across Western Canada. “No matter which Co-op you deal with, there is tremendous experience and resources available. We are a one-stop-shop because there are so many products and services we offer as a system,” said Iverson.
Complimenting many long-term team members, Twin Valley Co-op has many younger staff who energize the business. “It’s exciting to see the younger generation of agronomists and management. It has been a catalyst to help us grow with technology and stay relevant,” Iverson said.
He notes that things are shifting on the farm side too: “The majority of our acreage is now being farmed by younger farmers, and there is a thirst out there for doing things better. It creates a desire to partner with like-minded people who can help them.”
From the Twin Valley Co-op location, Iverson oversees several branches in the area. He also built an acreage and started his own hobby farm to bring aspects of agriculture into his own backyard. “I love agriculture because it is so dynamic, and I love coming to work every day.”