19 Feb Career Spotlight: Feed Sales
Life on the road can be difficult when traveling for work, but it can also be extremely rewarding and eye opening. Tyler Cockerham, a feed sales representative for Cargill Feed Nutrition, knows first hand the benefits a career in sales has for someone who wishes to see the world.
Earning the windshield time
As a feed sales representative, Tyler travels through Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland on a weekly basis. He drives about 1,000 miles a week, working with wholesale dealers, member cooperatives, independent co-ops and dealers, and some producers. He works with each customer account to market feed and act as a resource to them with their end user.
Tyler starts most of his days bright and early, as most of his accounts are a two, three or more hour drive away from his home. He tries to plan his week prior to jumping in his truck to avoid crossing his path.
“I thoroughly enjoy the time on the road — for some people they don’t like alone time in the truck or eating dinner by themselves, but you get used to it,” Tyler said.
One lesson Tyler had to quickly learn with his job is to never make any firm commitments because circumstances — like the weather or rescheduled meetings —can change so quickly.
“That is probably the hardest part of sales,” Tyler said. “With today’s technology and phones, you’re really never off. You’re always working.”
In order to have a healthy work, life balance on the road, Tyler had to set boundaries.
“It’s defiantly a challenge,” he said. “It takes awhile to figure it out. When I first started, I all but burned myself out.”
Developing the passion
Tyler’s passion for the cattle industry developed in high school when he began working for a local producer near his Virginia hometown. His interest in the industry drove him to pursue an agriculture degree at Mississippi State University. While at Mississippi State, Tyler applied for an internship at a ranch in Wyoming. He was hired for the internship and spent three months in Wyoming working on the commercial cow-calf ranch. The internship really drove him to seek a career in the cattle industry.
Immediately after Tyler graduated from Mississippi State, he began working for JBS Five Rivers at a commercial feed yard in Dalhart, Texas. After working for JBS Five Rivers for a couple of years, Tyler received a LinkedIn message from a recruiter for a position with Southern States Feed in Richmond, Virginia.
“I wasn’t really looking for a change, but I always keep an open mind for an opportunity to better myself,” Tyler said. “I spoke with (the recruiter) and she actually didn’t even know where I was originally from, which is Virginia. The opportunity to come home was great option (while) also still work in the animal livestock industry.”
In 2017, Southern States Feed sold their feed business, which consisted of seven feed mills, its staff and the branded feed, to Cargill Feed Nutrition.
“I’m still selling the same products to the same people,” Tyler said. “We’re really excited about being able to leverage the resources that Cargill has to really help our producers.”
Walking the walk
One of the biggest fears for individuals looking to pursue a career in sales is not knowing enough about the industry. Tyler’s advice to overcome that fear is education. Educate yourself and conduct research on the industry you wish to enter.
Tyler educated himself by gaining “real life experience” he could draw from when talking to his customers.
“I think having some “real life experience” helps because you can leverage that when you’re in conversations with dealers or stores,” he said. “When I was at Mississippi State, I worked at the dairy. So when I call on a dairy farm, I can draw off of that experience. (With cow-calf operations), I can draw from that experience in Wyoming. In West Virginia, we work with a lot of background and feed cattle. Just being able to say the word JBS kind of gets people’s attention. It gives you a little more credibility.”
To reach out to Tyler, send him an email at email@example.com.
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