When I was a kid, all I ever really wanted to do was drive a tractor.
I inherited my family’s passion for ag equipment and love of tractors as a result of spending my formative years growing up on a corn, soybean and wheat farm in northern Illinois. Both my father and grandfather bought and restored antique tractors, and some of my happiest childhood memories involved getting the machines back up and running in time for the yearly tractor parade at the county fair.
Looking back, I can fondly recall a number of “firsts” I experienced that were related to driving tractors. The first time I operated one myself ( a Minneapolis Moline R), the first time I drove in the tractor parade (a Farmall H), and the first time I raked hay for a neighbor (an Allis Chalmers 190). My wife also reminds of the time I taught her how to drive a tractor, and how I failed to mention to her how to stop. I don’t think she’ll ever let me forget it.
But now that I’m older, and as my family and I begin to sort through the estate of my late grandparents and father, I often find myself reflecting on where I came from and how I got started in ag. I’ve been around farm machinery my whole life, and I’m fortunate enough to be employed by an organization in AEM with ag equipment roots that stretch all the way back to the 19th century.
I’m happy to say I’ve learned a lot since joining AEM. I’ve been involved with everything from the product standards work that engineers and technical personnel spend months and years creating and managing, to the delicate dance of recruiting companies for market share reporting programs, to uniting industry competitors together to work alongside regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the Food and Drug Administration for dairy equipment.
And for as much as the equipment has evolved over the years, AEM’s commitment to serving both its members and the industry hasn’t changed. When you think about it, it’s amazing to consider how the origins of AEM’s Tech and Safety, Statistics and Advocacy initiatives can be traced back to 1911, 1899 and 1899, respectively. I can’t overstate how appreciative I am to be able to work for an organization that possesses such a rich history in the equipment industry, while also pushing manufacturers to look toward the future by organizing and offering countless trade shows, seminars, research, and Thinking Forward events.
It’s been an incredible experience for me to look back at the equipment my family has collected over the years. From hog oilers and corn shellers to cream separators and walking plows, seeing all they’ve amassed brings me right back to my early years. But more importantly, it reminds me of where my passion for ag equipment was born, and it serves as motivation for me to continue to advocate on behalf of our members and the industry as a whole.
So if there’s one takeaway I have from my time with the association so far, just like AEM brings equipment manufacturers together, it’s the same equipment that brings farmers like my family and I together. It doesn’t matter if you raise crops or livestock, or you like one brand over another. We’re united by the equipment we use to make it possible for food to get from our fields to your table.
And it’s always been that way.
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