Randall draws on ag business experience
Troy Randall, an integrated solutions consultant at 21st Century Equipment, says that his passion for agriculture led him to his dream job working in ag technology.
“I’ve been involved in showing livestock and with agriculture since I was old enough to show,” says Randall, who grew up in Pine Bluffs. “My dad was an ag teacher, and that really got me started. I showed steers and pigs in 4-H and FFA for as long as I could.”
His experience, however, was much more than just showing.
Ag business start
When Randall was preparing for high school, he also started his own rye wicking business, which spring-boarded his ag experience and career.
“In between my eighth grade and freshman year of high school, I started a rye wicking business,” he explains. “Around here, especially in dryland wheat, rye is a very common problem.”
However, rye grows between six inches and a foot taller than wheat early in the year. A rye wicker is equipped with sponges soaked in chemical similar to Roundup that kills the rye.
When the wicker is pulled across a field, the chemical hits the rye, killing it. Because the wheat is shorter, it is unaffected by the herbicide application.
“I started with one pull-type wicker and a four-wheeler,” he says.
“The next year I upgraded my equipment and hired an employee to take on additional acres,” Randall says. “Every year, we increased the number of acres that we did. If I did a good job for one guy, he’d talk to his neighbor, and the neighbor would want me to do his fields the next year.”
Randall notes that the business, TR Custom Wicking, continues today, though he doesn’t run it on a day-to-day basis.
In working hard to develop his business, Randall says he received the McKelvery Foundation Entrepreneurial Scholarship – a prestigious award given to only 100 students across the county
“I was one of 100 students across the nation who got that scholarship in 2008-09,” he comments. “It was really neat to get that recognition.”
The Foundation rewards young entrepreneurs in any field – not just agriculture – for their work, and Randall says it was humbling and rewarding to be recognized with the top students in the nation.
“After high school, I went to the University of Wyoming for five years,” Randall says. “I started as an engineering major, but after two years, I didn’t feel like that fit.”
Randall notes that he was more passionate about agriculture and saw himself pursuing a career in agriculture, so he switched his major to ag business.
“Agriculture is where I came from, and it’s something I was interested in,” he comments. “I graduated with a degree in ag business in May 2013, and I got a job working for 21st Century Equipment right out of college.”
While Randall says he grew up focusing on the livestock end of agriculture, he was raised in the farmland of southeast Wyoming and knew about farming from his business.
At the same time, a love for technology fit well with the position.
“I’ve always been a ‘tech junkie,’ and I’m good with computers,” he comments. “This job is the perfect marriage between agriculture and technology.”
In his current position, Randall deals with the technology side of precision agriculture within John Deere. Currently based out of Bridgeport, Neb., he covers a wide area, helping customers address their technology needs.
“This is my dream job,” Randall says, noting that he will soon be moving to Holyoke, Colo. to continue his career.
Moving to industry
Though he had extensive experience in ag business prior to joining 21st Century Equipment, Randall says, “One thing I realized is that I didn’t learn everything in school. Even though I got a degree, I’m still learning so much. There is a lot to learn, especially with my job.”
However, he says he was well prepared for the professional world and to jump into the agriculture industry.
“It was a pretty seamless transfer from college to the working world,” he comments. “I knew what I was getting into, and it wasn’t bad.”
In the future
Randall notes that he plans to continue working in the agriculture technology industry for as long as he can.
“For right now, I’m going to stay with this company as long as I can,” he says. “As a John Deere dealership, we are at the cutting edge of technology and precision agriculture.”
While emphasizing his passion for the ag industry, Randall adds, “As we develop new technology, there is a big move toward data management, and we are always on the front end of all the new technology.”
Randall describes new technology being rolled out that transfers information directly from the tractor to the computer and vice versa, as well as a variety of other innovations.
“I lucked out and found my dream job right out of college,” Randall says.
Looking back, Randall marks the work ethic instilled in him from a young age as being vital to his success.
“My entire ag background and where I came from, as well as the work ethic that was instilled in my youth, has really shaped me,” he says. “Everything that agriculture provided has really helped me.”
He also notes that TR Custom Wicking also gave him a step-up in the industry.
“I learned a lot from the ag business and the customer service aspect in my rye wicking business,” Randall explains. “A lot of people were impressed that I started the business when I was young, and I’ve been able to build it up and continue the business as I have grown older.”
However, Randall also notes that he didn’t reach his goals or acquire his dream job without effort.
“I had to work hard,” he says. “It isn’t easy to get into the agriculture industry, but in the end, hard work will pay off if one keeps at it.”
Randall also encourages others to find a career and industry they are passionate about.
“If someone isn’t passionate about what they are doing, they won’t be successful,” he says. “It has to be something they care about and want to keep pushing to improve. If someone wants to keep pushing to get better and better, they will do well.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.