Keep on truckin’
By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY
SUPERIOR -To say the frigid, snowy, brutal winter of 2019 was rough is an understatement, especially for a liquid propane (LP) delivery driver like AJ More, who works for MaxYield Cooperative. That’s why it seemed appealing to stay home and skip MaxYield’s annual team-member appreciation weekend in West Des Moines on February 9.
True to his nature, however, More just kept on trucking and attended the event. When he was named MaxYield’s Solutions Provider of the Year, he was stunned. “It was an unexpected honor,” said More, who is based out of MaxYield’s Superior location. “I was truly humbled.”
More is like the Swiss army knife of the Superior location, thanks to his diverse skills as an LP/gas delivery driver and a custom applicator in agronomy. It all started in January 2014 when he was hired by The Andersons, Inc., which previously owned MaxYield’s Superior location.
“I applied for an applicator job, but the manager said they really need an LP driver,” said More, who likes both jobs. “My wife and I had a newborn baby, so I figured LP delivery might be a better fit.”
It turned out More would have the chance to do both jobs after the Superior location became part of MaxYield in 2016. “MaxYield lets you handle a wide variety of jobs and use your talents,” More said. “I like the variety of my work, since there are different things to do throughout the year.”
More is one of 28 MaxYield team members who spend most of their time driving a truck. Not only is a More a key part of the transportation team, but his diverse skill set is invaluable, said Keith Heim, MaxYield’s CEO.
“While AJ specializes in MaxYield’s energy division, he pitches in wherever he is needed, including agronomy. He’s positive, humble and quietly goes about doing his job. His team members speak highly of him.”
More’s ag roots run deep
A career in ag is a great fit for More, who was raised in Blue Earth, Minnesota, where his dad and two uncles run More’s Ag Center, an ag retail operation.
“I grew up around the fertilizer business,” said More, who was running a sprayer by the time he was 16.
While More studied small-business management in college and worked in a non-ag job after graduation for six months, it wasn’t his style.
“What a relief to go back to agriculture,” he said. “I like working outside and can relate to the farmers, since I come from the same background as them.”
That means applying critical-thinking skills and being willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
“We get a lot of freedom at MaxYield to make our own decisions and use our best judgement,” he said.
Sometimes that means going the extra mile to serve loyal clients who accidentally miscalculate their fuel needs. More tries to keep an eye on his clients’ fuel tanks to prevent emergencies. He appreciates MaxYield’s commitment to its energy clients.
“While the energy division is an afterthought for some companies, the MaxYield team knows what they’re doing and makes energy a priority. That makes my work a lot more enjoyable,” he said.
More has learned a lot about the energy business since he began working for MaxYield.
“We do all our own LP service work and installation for our customers,” said More, whose delivery routes take him into southern Minnesota. “There’s so much diversity in LP, from grain dryers to hog barns, to heating for homes and cabins at the lake.”
While More can answer nearly any LP question, there’s one that he can’t.
“Clients always want to know which way LP prices might go, but we can’t predict the future,” he said.
When he’s not in his LP delivery truck, More is likely helping the agronomy department with spraying and fertilizer application, or he may be working in MaxYield’s shop.
“AJ is such a great team member, because he’s a dedicated, dependable, self-motivated, versatile problem solver,” said Chad Besch, MaxYield’s energy team leader. “AJ is well respected by his clients. More than once I’ve heard clients say, ‘AJ is our guy, and he takes good care of us.'”
Three tips for success
Teamwork is the key to success at MaxYield, added More, who is quick to point this out when people comment about his Solutions Provider of the Year Award.
“I’ve never gotten an award like this before, so I was just shocked. So many people came up and congratulated me that night at the awards banquet. I don’t think I’m anything special, though. It takes the team here.”
The Solutions Provider of the Year award is something special, though, More acknowledged. “This wasn’t an easy year, due to the weather. This award gives you that little extra jolt of inspiration to keep going and keep doing your best.”
For More, doing his best involves three big things:
1. If you’re having a tough day, don’t let it get you down. “Learn from your experience, and remember there’s always another day,” More said.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More is grateful for the many skilled team members who are also fun to work with at MaxYield. “If you need help, just ask,” he said. “It’s easy to get the job done when you’re surrounded by such good people.”
3. Remember that the energy business (or any business) is a people business. Be consistent, be fair, and provide excellent client service. “With every decision you make, treat clients like you’d like to be treated,” More said.
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