8 SOURCE | Winter 2023
CEO Steve Becraft and Chairman Curry Roberts
“ One of the things I ’ m excited about is working with Shelly Kruse and others to update our growth strategy , mission , and vision ,” adds Becraft . “ Our focus over the next three years is on people , growth , and operational excellence . In retail , it ’ s all about people and you need to create a culture of value , where happy and engaged employees are supported and understand our mission .”
“ In 2019 as we began to explore the opportunity of what would be beneficial for Southern States and GROWMARK , early on it became clear to me this was a cooperative that never quit fighting to serve its members ,” adds Kruse . “ Even their tag line in their logo ‘ A Farmer Owned Cooperative Since 1923 ’ illustrated their legacy . There had been many tough days , but the directors and employees of Southern States believed in their purpose and needed the right long-term partner for success . In structuring the transaction , we focused on building on our strengths together . We dug in to analyze and determine where improvements and best practices could be implemented . We were determined to work together and successfully reach the Southern States 100- year milestone and beyond . Many changes have occurred while remaining firm with our shared core values . We are proud of Southern States and are excited for a successful future .”
Becraft , who spent 30 years with Cargill before joining Southern States , says the transformation over the last few years has been the hardest work he ’ s ever been involved in . But he calls it the honor of a lifetime to be CEO as Southern States enters its 100th year serving customers , with a bright outlook on the future .
Throughout the coming months , Southern States will be collecting personal stories of members and employees and sharing their stories via social media in what it ’ s calling the “ Share Your Story ” campaign . Leaders will also be holding regional customer appreciation events in the coming months . southern states cooperative 6606 w . Broad st ., Richmond , VA 23230 ( 804 ) 281-1000 www . southernstates . com
“ For me , what I hope our customer base sees is that we ’ ve been here working with their families for 100 years ,” adds Becraft . “ We had to stop doing some things , but the fact is we are now getting to a place where we are positioning ourselves to continue to serve these family farms for generations to come .”