The post below was taken from an article that Regina wrote for the September 2018 issue of Ag Air Update. Regina is a regular contributer to Ag Air Update and other industry resources. You can read more from her under “Regina’s Perspective”.
After working in the ag industry for over 26 years now, many people have often asked me about my last name “Farmer” and if I changed it to coordinate with my business. I have laughed it off multiple times stating that my husband is a retired Union Pacific railroad worker but happens to have a great name for my business. I also continue to get asked about how I got started with the “Chem-Man” software for my career so I thought I’d share.
I graduated from ASU in Jonesboro AR with a degree in “Business Data Processing” (now considered Computer Science). Computers were “The thing of the future”. I have always loved technology and I wanted to be a part of it. I have written hundreds of custom programs for businesses but the one that really took off was “Chem-Man”.
Years ago I was approached by a local ground rig operator in my hometown of Wynne, AR and I wrote him a customized program in “DOS” which was the operating system of the early days (the big floppy disk and all). Before you knew it the word got out and after some tweaking with the help of local ag pilot J.R. Cartillar, I sold the same program to around 6 local crop dusting operations. After getting a friend to help out with some graphics, “Chem-Man” was born.
Some people ask “Why not Chem-Woman since you are a woman”? Although the original logo displayed a male ag-pilot, chem-man actually stands for “chemical management”. We recently updated our logo and the male ag-pilot has been retired but he’ll always have a place in my heart.
After I started advertising in the former “Ag Pilot” magazine, I started getting calls from all around the U.S. as well as Canada. Now I’m proud to advertise in the Ag Air Update which helps us advertise internationally. This shows how far our industry has come. I still laugh at the first convention in Arkansas that I attended because my display consisted of a dot matrix printout that read “Chem-Man” along with my big bulky computer. (We’ve come a long way since then). My husband and I traveled around to tell the ag operations about our new software program.
Customer support is always important when you’re working with customers. However in the early days there were no cell phones and you were pretty much stuck in your office so you could be close to the phone. There was also no internet so if you needed to review the customer data you had to get the customer to mail in their floppy disk which often would get corrupted in the mail! Boy have things gotten better along the way!
One thing that I find interesting is that I have seen many of my original customers retire and am working with their grandkids! (Boy do I feel old).
As technology changes, software must keep up. Throughout the years we’ve updated from our DOS operating systems and floppy disks to what is now an online system that allows the user to login from anywhere. It has also allowed us to incorporate mapping and GPS integration to the invoicing program.
Since our company has grown I have been able to travel with my now retired husband and visit many of our customers onsite. What a gift this has been! Actually meeting so many of the people that you’ve been talking to on the phone is great! Also seeing the work flow has been so helpful in learning how to adjust for individual needs and requests.
Due to the varied needs around the country, we are still continuously updating and enhancing. Instead of only attending the local state conventions, I try to make as many as possible around the nation.
One thing that I find fascinating is that I’m often recognized from social media. Social media (such as Facebook) has helped me become even closer to many of my customers, learning about their family life and hobbies.
One of the hardest thing about this industry is seeing how dangerous the profession is. I’ve lost so many friends, young and old and that will never get easy. I hope that our industry can work on somehow being a safer place to work. I have talked to so many friends, widows and mothers who have lost loved ones and they say it’s something that stays with them all of the time.
Throughout the years our company has grown from a staff of two to now a staff of 7! That’s not including hubby Jerry who works for free thanks heavens!
Some people have mentioned “Do you ever think of slowing down”? I can’t imagine. As I was driving in to work this morning I saw an ag plane flying above the field next to me. I thought what a beautiful image these planes are flying in the air like a bird. I couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of such a great industry.
I wanted to take this time to say “Thank you” to everyone who has allowed me to be a part of your profession.