Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing
November 5, 2017
Written By Mark Fenner
In a recent sermon, my pastor focused on the idea of ensuring the church understands and sticks to its mission of serving God. This notion, keeping the main thing the main thing, originated from famous self-improvement guru Stephen Covey. It’s a strong point, and it made me reflect upon the work we do at MFA Oil and our mission.
The mission is quite simple, really. Our goal is to enrich the lives and prosperity of the farmers and ranchers we serve through our energy products and services. I suppose it sounds simple, but the diversity of our operations can make it seem harder than you would think.
For example, we are often questioned why we invest in our retail operations like APM, Big O Tires, Break Time and Jiffy Lube. It’s a valid question, and one to which I believe we have good answers. Each of these business units contributes to the cooperative’s profitability, which ultimately boosts the company’s financial performance. Additionally, these business units:
- Provide strong fuel and lubricant volume, which enables us to negotiate with more buying power.
- Improve our cash flow when bulk fuel and propane sales hit seasonal lulls.
- Serve as a source of talented employees for us to develop for roles throughout the company.
But let’s return to the question at hand: How do we keep the main thing the main thing? It starts with our culture, the things we do and say every minute of every day. We are always thinking of our commitment to our farmer-owners. When we make decisions about who we are and why we do what we do, we always come back to what’s best for our member-owners. That goes for everyone at MFA Oil’s headquarters in Columbia, Mo., including myself and the rest of the executive team. We are all part of the supporting cast for the employees in the field who directly serve our farmers and ranchers.
I was recently asked by one of our retail partners whether we offer any differentiation between service for members and non-members. Outside of the obvious answer of patronage dividends, the answer is no. That may sound like it runs counter to what I’ve described above, but how do you think our business would be performing if we gave preferential treatment to some customers, but not others. The short answer is, not well.
The beauty of it is, both our members and non-members help us attain our goal. That’s why we treat all customers with the respect they deserve by providing them all with the same level of elite service. This culture was instilled decades ago, and it’s so ingrained it has become part of our DNA. We believe it’s why our business continues to grow when others are not. At the end of the day, we need all our customers’ business to be competitive, efficient and effective. It’s how we keep the main thing the main thing, and we will continue to do so.