For 154 Years of Service, Thank you

Dec 17, 2021
Long-term employees bring so much value to a business. They reflect a stable work environment, they demonstrate commitment and they determine the culture of a business.

We are so fortunate to have four employees on the east side of our territory who have been long-term employees for the cooperative system, annually providing guidance and leadership to those around them.
During a combined 154 years of service, Kim Buttery, Cindy Crownover, Luann Nichol and Stan Hicks have served our cooperative with integrity, passion for the people they work amongst and tireless efforts on behalf of our members. At the end of 2021, they’ll retire to enjoy the next chapter of life with the people they enjoy most, their families.

This week on the blog we salute these four individuals who have never quit delivering on service, work ethic and reliability. They will be greatly missed in the halls of this business.
Words from Kim Buttery:

I wish all employees could see the passion that I have for the Co-op.   The Co-Op has changed by leap and bounds over the last 45 years.  A Co-op is a business founded by members that have the same shared values, meaning they are willing to work together towards a common goal.

A Co-op gives opportunity for every member to have a vote in major decision making.  A Co-op could pay out patronage to its members from earnings generated by their sales, our leadership, and great teamwork from our employees.   

I was fortunate enough to work with Marlin Larson, very efficient businessman, who’s values I respect with the upmost respect. In a changing world his philosophy was get on the bus or get left behind. There were many people that believed in me and gave me opportunities in the organization, and I am for ever grateful for that.   
My time here has been good.  The Co-op to me means family.  Working for an organization for 45 years there is no way you do not become friends with employees and customers you have worked with. I have seen fun times, had some rough times, I have seen death from employees and customers we all cared deeply for. We all were here to do a job which we did. But we where here for each other when needed.

I will never forget the year I was voted employee of the year. I also, will never forget the day I wore two different shoes to work. Memories I have lots but if you know me, I don’t want to be in the limelight.

So enough about me, I would like to wish Cindy, LuAnn, and Stan a great retirement as well. I wish them nothing but happiness on the next journey of their life. I was honored to share a retirement party with them. (Shout out to Vicki and Lindsay for a great party).

Thank you to all that have touched my life in one way or another. Some may never know, but I know.
I have one piece of advice I would like to share, please be kind to one another, kindness is free, and we need to sprinkle it as much as possible. One smile can make a difference for we never know what someone is truly going through. 

I wish only great things for this organization. 

Words from Cindy Crownover:
I started at Wayne County Co-op in the spring of 1985.  There were no computers at the branches until maybe in 1989 compared to Co-Alliance where all business is computerized.  From fertilizer buggies to precision applied fertilizer and chemicals today.  Today the precision technology offered to patrons helps with input costs for crops.
I have seen kids and grandkids of patrons and board members become employees of the co-op.  They have a wonderful opportunity to have a long career in agriculture.
I started in the Richmond elevator office doing feed, animal health, fertilizer, chemicals and grain.  I recently finished as an admin at the Snow Hill elevator working with grain.  I enjoyed going back and working directly with patrons bringing in grain.  That is where good customer service has to begin.

Words from Luann Nichol:

My career with the cooperative has been wonderful.  I started my career while in high school assisting everywhere I was needed.  I was the receptionist at Butler Landmark following graduation, then moved into the grain accounting division, accounts receivable, accounts payable and eventually became the Credit Manager in 1989.  I remained in that role until 1998 when we merged with Harvest Land Co-op where I assisted the Credit Manager until 2000 when I was offered the opportunity to work at the Richmond, Indiana office in the Human Resource Department.  Following Wayne Klusman’s retirement, I became the HR Manager at Harvest Land in 2004.  I remained in that position until the merger with Ag One Co-op where I was afforded the opportunity to work directly for the CEO, Keith Applegeet, in an administrative role to him and the Board of Directors.  In late 2013, I was again offered the HR Management role where I have been for the remainder of my career.  Working with the customers, my co-workers and fellow employees, watching their children grow up and have children of their own has been so rewarding over the years.  I will treasure those friendships, relationships and the memories of those that have passed, forever.    

The cooperative business is important because while it is similar to other businesses, in providing quality products and excellent service to its customers, the co-op is owned by its farmer members.  Those members have a financial stake as well as a voice in the success of the co-op.  The cooperative system has always reminded me of a family business on a much larger scale.    

I have many memories over the past 40 plus years but probably the most memorable was meeting the love of my life and husband of 32 years, Scott Nichol, who also retired from Harvest Land.  I am thankful for everyone who has been instrumental in developing my career and trusting in my abilities.  There are many who have done that for me but most memorable would be Dick Giffen, Stan Hicks, Marlin Larson, Keith Applegeet and Scott Logue. I am forever grateful to them and hope they have never regretted their decision to take a chance on me.  My parents and family told me many, many years ago that hard work, dedication, understanding and patience, will be recognized and that has proven to be the case. 

I want to wish the very best to my fellow employees in their careers at Co-Alliance Cooperative and hope they are as blessed as I have been.  Take care and stay in touch.

Words from Stan Hicks:

In the summer of 1972 as a fifteen-year-old high school kid, my Co-op career began with mowing the lawn, burning the trash (we could open burn back then, in town) and cleaning the feed mill after 5:00. The co-op was the Darke County Farm Bureau Cooperative Association, Inc., later to be known as Darke Landmark, Inc. in Greenville Ohio.

Since that time, I’ve been involved with six co-op mergers and numerous acquisitions. The final one being with Co-Alliance and Harvest Land Co-op in February 2021. My experiences have allowed me to work in the Ag Center, advance to General Manager and most recently COO for Harvest Land Co-op from 1995 to current.
I married my high school sweetheart, Shirley, (who I actually met in the church nursery where our parents attended) and we have two grown sons and 3 adult grandchildren. We are looking forward to our retirement years and anticipate doing somethings we haven’t had the extra time to do. We are active in our local church and plan to invest a few extra hours with that ministry. I have always enjoyed aviation since my childhood and said when I retire one of my goals was to earn a private pilot certificate. I have my first appointment scheduled with a flight instructor. My plans are to work on a part-time basis for Co-Alliance on some special projects they have lined up for me, so I’ll see some of you from time to time over the next few months.
It has been an honor to have a career with an organization that is owned and controlled by the farmer members. With the latest merger of Co-Alliance, you have an unprecedented opportunity to be a leading business with the size and scale to be a long-term player. From my early days with a million-dollar co-op to now a billion dollar plus organization, I wish you the best. The size and scale may have changed, but one thing remains, your Co-op is still farmer-owned and farmer-controlled for the benefit of the farmers of this great nation! Give it your best!

Thank you Kim, Cindy, Luann and Stan for your years of dedication. We wish you only wonderful things in retirement.




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