Dale Burmester loves getting in his truck every morning with the knowledge that he can help his farmer-customers. Dale has been in sales with Gateway FS in Red Bud, Ill. since 1985 and has been a Certified Crop Specialist since 1988. "Normally we call ourselves salesmen," says Burmester, "but when you're a Certified Crop Specialist, that says, 'I've done the training, the schooling, everything it takes to be a specialist.'"
The Certified Crop Specialist designation is awarded by GROWMARK and recognizes crop specialists who achieve excellence in sales performance, technical knowledge, education and career development. To achieve this professional level a crop specialist must meet several requirements (including obtaining the Certified Crop Advisor designation, two nominations, and two years experience in the System). Applicants must then pass a three-part examination, including testing on Marketing Situation Appraisal, Sales Interview, and Diagnostics. Certified Crop Specialists must renew their CCS certification annually and maintain their CCA through continuing education credits.
The first class of Certified Crop Specialists were certified in 1987. Dale credits GROWMARK with being a step ahead of even the American Society of Agronomy, whose Certified Crop Advisor program was created in 1992. Dale remembers the huge weight placed on the certification program from the very beginning. “When I became a salesman back in 1985, the general manager of Gateway, which was Randolph Service Company at the time, said he wanted to be the first company to have all certified crop specialists,” said Burmester.
Certified Crop Specialists work hand-in-hand to help farmers be profitable, increase yields, and protect the environment on their farm. "Farmers are some of the most educated business people out there," says Burmester, noting that because they have to deal with so many different issues, the training that he has received through the certification and re-certification process has been invaluable. "When a problem arises [in a farmer's field] and you're the one who knows how to take care of it you know the training is worth it."
To find out more about becoming a Certified Crop Specialist, contact your Marketing Manager, Region Agronomy Marketing Director, or Mike Scheer.