Keith then said, “When I came here, I had never tried to sell anything. Carthel taught me about marketing and relationships with our patrons, both farmers and suburban customers, and people in various phases of the agricultural services community. He is also teaching me to follow my instincts. And most of the time that works.”
Reflecting what Keith said, Carthel whimsically added, “We took him in and are training him right.” In a more serious tone, he continued, “Since Keith became manager, a more progressive attitude has developed. He has helped the business through the relationships he has established with our customers.
“He is in tune with what the customer wants. And he takes an active part in the positive attitudes we are creating and in the worthwhile objectives we are attempting to achieve. Most importantly, he works well with the customers and employees.”
Keith hastened to add, “Harold
Ruf, who is Madison Farmers Co-op’s store manager, and the employees who work with him do an excellent job in serving the walk-in trade.”
When the Co-op moved from a busy thoroughfare in Huntsville, to a totally rural setting north of Huntsville, they lost virtually all their suburban lawn and garden business.
But Keith adds, “Under Harold’s direction, we are rebuilding a suburban lawn and garden business base. We are in an area that is rapidly urbanizing. As the subdivisions move further north out of Huntsville and closer to the Co-op, we are presented ever expanding opportunities for building this business. And Harold is consistently tapping this developing market.”
What the Co-op got by the move was as close a proximity as possible to many of the farmers it serves. In fact, it is located right in the middle of a field of rich, dark red soil. And Keith stated, “We certainly appreciate the support of the farmers who comprise our primary customer base. Without their confidence in the Co-op and loyal reliance upon it for their goods and services, there would be no reason for the Co-op to be here.”
Then turning to the board of directors Griffin said, “It is good to know that all nine members of our board of directors purchase almost entirely all, if not all, of their agricultural inputs and services from the Co-op. Their example of loyalty has been extremely beneficial to instilling in their fellow farmers the confidence to also be loyal Co-op customers. Without the support of the directors and all the farmers, my job would be most difficult if not
Keith’s wife is Meg [nee:Stockton] of Aberdeen, Mississippi. They have one son, Cory, who is twelve years old. Their daughters are fourteen year-old Heather Lynn and four year-old Emily Hannah. Keith and Meg are members of the Union Grove Church of Christ in northern Madison County. He a deacon and young adult Bible class teacher. Meg teaches the pre-school and kindergarten class. Meg states, “The only honor which Keith has received which I cherish more for him is the one he received when he was selected to be a deacon.”
Like all good Co-op wives, Meg puts up with the long hours Keith works and understands the pressures he sustains in his job. Dena says, “Without Meg’s help, we could not have kept a secret of the fact that Keith was to be Manager of the Year and gathered about a dozen of his kinfolks to be present in Birmingham when he got the Award.”
When asked about his civic and agricultural activities, without a pause, he said, “The one I value most is that of being approved as a Certified Crop Advisor.”
He then went on to name several organizations in which he holds membership such as the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and the Alabama Soil Improvement Association. In his crop advisor certification and his membership in key agricultural associations is seen another mark of a good manager. And that is to surround ourselves with those who can help us to improve through the on-going training process and to be stronger by encouragement of those who share the same sentiments.