Q&A with Monte Fisher of the MFA Oil Board of Directors
February 27, 2023
Written By Adam Buckallew
Monte Fisher, a lifelong resident of Brashear, Mo., grew up on his family’s farm. Following his retirement from a 31-year career with the Missouri Department of Transportation, Fisher began farming full-time. Fisher was elected to the MFA Oil Board of Directors in 2017.
You’ve served on the MFA Oil Board of Directors since 2017. What have you learned about the cooperative since you joined the Board that you didn’t know before?
The cooperative handles vast amounts of customer information that must be protected. These days it’s common to see news of companies that have cybersecurity breaches. I just recently saw a story about a telecom provider that suffered its eighth data breach in less than five years.
Every company must be prepared to handle cybersecurity threats, and MFA Oil is no different. During my time on the board, I’ve learned there’s much more to the business than just delivering gas. Our cooperative has strong policies and procedures in place to protect our customers’ and members’ data. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that many of our farmer-members never see.
MFA Oil was founded in 1929 and continues to stand the test of time. Why do you believe the cooperative remains an essential service for its farmer-owners?
We’re delivering the fuel, propane and lubricants our farmers and ranchers need to run their operations. But it goes beyond providing excellent products. What makes the company essential to its farmer-owners is its dedication to service. Cooperatives are built to serve their members, and we’ve placed a high priority on this calling. Putting customers first is one of the three core values we have at MFA Oil.
What is something you think more members of the cooperative should know?
I wish more members realized how much we value their input. Your Board of Directors routinely takes comments we receive at local annual meetings, district meetings and the annual delegate meeting into consideration during our decision-making process.
There is considerable value in the feedback we receive from the membership. We want to continue to encourage members to stay engaged and share their thoughts with us. Cooperatives are grassroots-based organizations. The more involvement we get from our members, the stronger we become.
MFA Oil has long been known to provide high-quality fuels and lubricants to members and customers. How important is that reputation for dependability?
It’s essential. You are what your record says you are. We’ve talked in the boardroom many times about the reputation MFA Oil has built as a trustworthy supplier and how valuable that is to our members and customers. Trust is built with consistency, and that’s something our cooperative has delivered since 1929.
We all deal with trust in many aspects of our farming operations, and it’s incredibly important. Our farmers know they can depend on our products to protect the significant investments they’ve made in their valuable machinery and vehicles. The fact that we stand behind the quality of our lubricant products with a limited warranty protection plan reinforces that trust.
What has the cooperative accomplished during your time on the board that has made you most proud?
I am most proud of our renewed focus on customer service that began in 2019 and continues to this day. The Board of Directors has worked closely with the executive management team to ensure we are a customer-service-oriented company. We’ve made several changes in recent years, and I’m proud to have been a part of that process.
Of course, you can’t talk about customer service without mentioning the important role employees play. We’ve made great strides in employee development, recruitment and retention to ensure we have quality people in place to serve our members’ and customers’ needs.