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Keith Griffin is named
 Manager of the Year 
at AFC Annual Meeting

Tommy Paulk holds the E.P. Garrett Award naming Keith Griffin Manager of the Year to the delight of Griffin’s wife, Meg. 

Keith Griffin became the manager of Madison County [Alabama] Farmers Co-op in the fall of 1997. At the end of the first fiscal year under his management, the Co-op was in the black. It has registered positive net margins in every year since then, which is one of the primary requirements to be eligible to even be considered for the E.P. Garrett Award. 

During his tenure, sales have gone up every year; and he has streamlined the operations for more efficient distribution of products and services to the patrons while, at the same time, cutting operational costs. 

Keith was also named Manager of the Year for 2003 during his first year of eligibility.  

Keith is a native of Cleveland, Mississippi, where he was raised by his parents, the late Glen Griffin and Betty Griffin. He reflects, “My parents instilled in me the Christian values by which I attempt to live each day.” Keith holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Auburn University. He completed his studies in agronomy and soils in 1991. For seven years thereafter he was a manager of a watercress farm in North Alabama. When the managerial position at Madison County Co-op was open, he applied for the job seeing it as an opportunity for a new direction in his career in agriculture. 

As would be expected of an effective manager, Griffin unhesitatingly credited his employees with a major role making it possible for him to receive the E.P. Garrett Award. He stated, “All of the employees believe in what we are trying to do to provide the products and services our patrons deserve.” 

He then added, “Because of the dedication and loyalty of Dena Payne and Carthel Allen, I never have to worry about them efficiently doing their jobs and even assuming responsibilities beyond their assigned duties. Besides being outstanding employees, they are also good friends. 

“Dena has been with us for four years and she is not only the bookkeeper, but also our counselor and therapist. And she is our thermostat because she is a good listener. She listens to everybody and gives appropriate answers and responses. She is known by her fellow employees, patrons, and directors as ‘Miss Co-op.’” 

Dena responded, “Keith is a good manager, and a good person. He is not only our boss, but he is also our friend. Any of us can talk to him about anything relating to the Co-op and our jobs. He is also a good listener.” 

Click to enlarge
A dozen of Keith and Meg Griffin’s family members came to Birmingham to congratulate Keith upon receipt of the E.P. Garrett Award designating him as the Manager of the Year.

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 non-existent.” 

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. 



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Date Last Updated January, 2006