Taking Control in a Tight Labor Market: How We Got Here and What Can YOU Do About It?

What is the top challenge facing agribusinesses today and why is it labor? When it comes to the tight labor market, a number of long-term demographic trends - including minimal growth in the number of working-age Americans, a diminishing number of working-age adults without a college degree and historically low U.S. birthrates- created the perfect storm. Quit rates in the U.S. are at record-high levels, and so is the average time to fill open positions. It can feel overwhelming. Today, we have an esteemed panel who are going to share how they are taking control to proactively address the worker shortage crisis. 

Speakers:

 

Adam Alson, President, Appleseed Childhood Education, Inc.

Adam Alson is a third-generation corn and soybean farmer from Rensselaer. He holds an economics degree from the University of Chicago and worked as a bond trader for Bank of America in New York City before returning home to run the family farm in 2011. 

In 2020, Adam and his wife, Carlee Tressel Alson, founded the nonprofit Appleseed Childhood Education to address the lack of quality child care options in Jasper County. Driven by the work of a volunteer board of professionals, Appleseed will open its first project, a 72-seat, high-quality early learning center, in Rensselaer later this year. 

 

Claudia Nari, Chief Product Officer, Inari

Claudia has 30 years of experience in the agriculture industry, with a proven record of leading diverse, international teams, and deep experience in plant breeding. She has worked with Bayer Crop Science, where she was Head of Regulatory Science Strategy and Operations, and also held various roles at Monsanto. Claudia began her career in soybean improvement at Nidera Sementes (now part of Syngenta), after earning a Plant Breeding degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina.

 

Aaron Conaway, President, Total Seed Production, Inc.

1998 Graduate of Tipton High School and 2002 Graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Technology 

For Aaron, a career in agriculture was not the original plan. With his degree in Aeronautical Technology, he planned to design. build, and repair aircraft. But after the events of September 11th, the industry was left with a shortage of jobs. So, after graduating from Purdue, Aaron went to work for Campbell Seed, back in his hometown of Tipton, IN, as a Production Tech. 

In 2004, the Production Manager retired and Aaron was asked to fill the position. Then, in 2006, Campbell Seeds sold their retail brand and along side his father-in-law, Aaron continued the production business. At that time, he became partner and President of Total Seed Production, which is a contract production & service company for seed corn and soybeans based in his hometown of Tipton, Indiana. 

Since that time Aaron has served on a variety of committees for ASTA, ICIA, Friends of Tipton FFA, Tipton School Corporation Ag Advisory, and INDOT Community Advisory. He was a board member for ICIA for 5 years, where he was on the executive committee and served as President in 2013. Currently, Aaron serves on IPSA’s Board of Directors. 

Aaron has been married to his wife, Christy for 19 years and they have three boys; Maverick (17), Oliver (14), and Raleigh (11). They all enjoy sports (especially golf), spending time on Lake Michigan, and traveling to different states for vacation each year.

 

Larry Dickerson, President, Destination Marketing Group

Larry D. Dickerson serves as President/CEO for Destination Marketing Group (DMG). Specifically, Mr. Dickerson focuses on serving as a senior advisor, promoter and/or project manager for a cross section of business owners, corporate executives, public/non-profit organizations, professional speakers/entertainers and entrepreneurs.  Mr. Dickerson is recognized by his peers and colleagues as a great listener, analyst, visionary and collaborator. 

Mr. Dickerson digs deeply to intimately understand a client’s vision and brand ambitions before suggesting strategies and tactics for the client’s marketplace.  He thinks from the consumers’ perspectives to help clients best position themselves for yet unrealized growth opportunities.  Mr. Dickerson often taps his vast network of political, for-profit and not-for-profit sectors developed during his career, to help clients make the right connections for their specific needs and/or interests.  He most enjoys achieving that “moment of connection” between sellers and buyers, creating the ultimate environment for success. 

In the fall of 2018, Mr. Dickerson founded and continues to oversee Culinary Crossroads, a state-wide branding initiative focused on the raising the awareness of the people, products, places and services which define Indiana’s culinary landscape and make it the preferred destination for individuals and families to live, work and play.  Supported by Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch and partnering with Ivy Tech Community College and several other public and private sector organizations, Culinary Crossroads continues to expand activities in all areas of Indiana.  

A graduate of General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), Mr. Dickerson’s career has included work in manufacturing, finance, state/national politics, travel and tourism and more. This diversified portfolio of experiences continues to provide Mr. Dickerson with the ability to quickly understand a client’s arena of activity and deliver substantive insights and assistance.