29 Jul Levi Hall
Starting Management Young
Levi Hall spends his time understanding the different challenges of not only the grain industry, but also of running a business across state lines. As the General Manager of Beach Cooperative Grain Company, Levi finds himself split over the state lines of Montana and North Dakota, while also being close to the southern border of Canada. As a young manager, his role includes a variety of tasks, as well as managing multiple employees and cooperative members.
Challenges of Wheat
Challenges of Farming
“I think it really depends on where you’re at,” explains Levi about the challenges of wheat in today’s market. “If you look at the ‘I’ States right now, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa – … the Corn Belt … it’s a struggle to get anything planted and it hasn’t been ideal growing conditions.”
While the Corn Belt area faces shallow root issues and hundred-degree heat, Levi now worries that they’ll have to endure strong winds that can knock plants over. In his area, Levi worries about untimely rains and a later than normal time window for their crops.
“We’ve had great rain; we’ve had excellent growing conditions; we’re looking at a bumper crop here,” says Levi. “We’re going to be okay as far as breakevens are concerned for the most part – we should be able to back our way out just based off of bushels thankfully.”
Challenges of Managing a Grain Cooperative
With cooperatives, it is similar to a typical supply chain, there is a manufacturer, a wholesaler, and a retailer. You tip that supply chain on its head by starting with the farmer. The farmer brings the product to the cooperative and then the cooperative bundles it together to make it a more attractive package in order to export it. Overseas, it is either packaged into smaller options, produced into flour, or whatever else the buyer wants to use the wheat for.
Challenges of Being A Young Manager
With employees his senior, Levi’s unique experience managing a diverse age group of employees while also being young himself has taught him to always give respect and get respect. Sometimes you have to swallow pride and admit when you’re wrong, but the doors that can open in those situations can be amazing.
On top of that, Levi doesn’t have just ONE boss – he has seven bosses which are the immediate board of directors. After the top of the pyramid he’s got 1,200 patrons, 200 of which are active, and is the acting Congress or Senate to field complaints, analyze issues, and enact solutions.
Working with Golden Valley Ingredients, the Beach Cooperative Grain Company runs the backside of the relationship that started three years ago in a joint venture with Anchor Ingredients out of Fargo (North Dakota). While Levi’s company brought the origination side, they brought the marketing side for peas, lentils, and chickpeas – this partnership and allocation of duties is why the relationship works as well as it does.
This applies to more than just his work with other organizations, it also includes how he learned how to do his role both successfully and efficiently. While his start was a “baptism by fire” with Levi jumping in head first, never saying no to an opportunity, and figuring out how to create solutions – he always had confidence in himself. On the flip side, he’s always maintained the humility to ask questions and keep a positive attitude.
“I didn’t even know what they were talking about, you know, with basis and spreads… and then, of course, you get all the abbreviations … and all that stuff… it’s like stepping into a … new-new world! It takes a while,” explains Levi.
Future of Agriculture
“I really do believe autonomous farming is coming,” says Levi. “I think it’s going to be smaller equipment … and be a much smaller, much more efficient way of farming.”
An issue that Levi has seen, not just in his home state of North Dakota, but everywhere, is the struggle with out-migration of young talented people. He believes that if people knew more about the grain industry, they would be able to find a lot of good jobs in rural America.
Strategically, Levi knows that in his professional career, he will be able to say that, at 30 years old he will have spent nearly five years of elevator manager experience and be able to take that into job interviews with the ability to show future employers the potential of a long, thirty plus year career in management with their business.
You can keep up with Levi on either Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram to keep up with all things grain industry, North Dakota and more!
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