Community & Culture

Understanding Grower Needs

A retailer partnership with Syngenta delivers local data and service to add value for Illinois farmers.

There isn’t much that’s more valuable to a grower than seeing how new products and practices work locally. It’s the sort of thing that gets noticed. It’s also the sort of thing that Stacey Wright, sales representative for Pitchford Elevator; Barry Beaupre, sales representative at Syngenta; and Trent Funk, owner of Funk Farms, make happen with their own test plot.

Consistency Is Key

Pitchford Elevator is a full-service retailer providing fertilizer, crop protection products and seeds primarily to corn, bean and wheat growers in Richview, Illinois. “When it comes to providing growers with the best recommendations for their farms, local partnerships are essential,” Beaupre says, “because growers know you understand their needs.”

Wright has worked with Beaupre for more than 25 years and says Beaupre’s consistency is what has made their partnership last.

“Barry has always been a constant and a good person to work with,” Wright says. “Sometimes, with other companies, you meet with a different sales rep every time, which makes it hard to develop a trusting relationship. Barry is so close in proximity to us that it helps keep the relationship strong, and our growers get to know him.”

Funk Farms, which is also located in Illinois, primarily grows corn, soybeans, wheat and milo. Fifteen years ago, Funk switched from his former retailer to Pitchford Elevator. Funk had a preexisting relationship with Wright and was confident in Wright’s ability to meet the needs of Funk Farms.

“Pitchford serviced our farm as it grew and helped make our operation more efficient,” Funk says. “The prices and services of the products were also very reasonable.”


I am there to help growers achieve a good return on investment and provide what they need. I don’t consider myself a sales rep so much as a business partner.

Barry Beaupre Sales Representative at Syngenta

Local Data Wins

Wright says that although growers see lots of trials, they don’t always get to see them right at their back door. Wright knows growers want to see trials working in their locations with fields mirroring their own. That means the same soil and same weather patterns. Results from other geographies don’t always translate well to areas outside those geographies, and that frustrates growers. Wright and Beaupre have teamed up with Funk to use Funk’s local farm to conduct trials to help neighboring farmers avoid those frustrations.

Their test plot, a 30-acre field site located on Funk Farms, uses block trials to research problems, find answers and understand the challenges local growers are experiencing. The site helps Wright and Beaupre understand growers’ concerns and offer practical solutions that provide the best yields. A farm that participates in field trials within 15 miles of other growers provides a treasure trove of pertinent data for use in those growers’ fields.

“It is almost like tests from their own farms because the factors are so similar: soil, weather, etc.,” Wright says. “Even the growers who already trust you will trust you even more when they can see your trial results for themselves.”

Wright brings his customers to Funk Farms to view the trial results in their field trials, so they can make informed decisions after seeing how products affect crops on farms like their own.

“We walk from one part of the field to the next, so growers see products, trials, yield results,” Wright explains. “They ask questions and see product performance in real time.”

Trial Shows Best Herbicides

When growers in the area began having issues with weed resistance, Wright, Funk and Beaupre designed a trial showing which herbicides worked the best and provided the most residual control. They applied herbicides and evaluated results, so the team could make the best grower recommendations.

“It wasn’t a seed issue,” Wright says. “It was that weeds had developed resistance to the herbicides, and they were no longer working on the weeds.”

In addition to showing bare-ground studies, the partners brought in agriculture experts — like Jason Bond, Ph.D., professor of plant, soil and agricultural systems at Southern Illinois University, and Bryan Young, Ph.D., professor of weed science at Purdue University — to discuss proper weed management with growers.

Local Partnership Builds Trust

Everybody wins in a good partnership because everybody is happy with the results. The idea is to build trust and confidence between the growers, retailers and Syngenta.

Funk says a partnership like this one is valuable because it means quicker service in the face of problems. He says it’s a key factor in the success and growth of all parties involved.

“Barry is a very hands-on rep and is instrumental in trials,” Funk says. “It’s not just what we learn, but also what he learns for his sales programs.”

“I trust Barry, and we’re in it for the long haul,” Wright says. “It all circles back to trust.”

“Retailers have to trust Syngenta sales reps, and the grower has to believe that both have the best interests of growers in mind,” Beaupre says. “I am there to help growers achieve a good return on investment and provide what they need. I don’t consider myself a sales rep so much as a business partner.”