There are some jobs in Kansas that always need to be filled. Many of these occupations relate to agriculture.
Along with the always-high demand for farmhands, CDL drivers and tractor technicians, there is a need for distribution management personnel – people who can oversee inventory, logistics, packaging, supply chain and warehouse management.
Last fall, Pratt Community College started a Modern Distribution Sales & Management track. This track teaches students about ordering, warehouse management and logistics.
This summer, two students from the program will intern at WinField United, a Land O’Lakes Company that distributes seed and crop protection products, along with agricultural services.
“Their facilities were really nice,” Colby Shriver said. “I felt at home there. A lot of stuff they talked about I already knew from school.”
Shriver, 18, grew up on a farm in Coats, located in Pratt County. Someday, he wants to go back to the farm, but he also wants a career in distribution management. This summer, Shriver, who graduates from Pratt’s Modern Distribution program this month, will intern at WinField in Park City.
He will participate in a 90-day program and will spend one month working with the warehouse team – becoming forklift certified, loading and unloading trailers and picking orders using Radio Frequency Scanner technology for product location control. During the second phase, he will work with the customer service department on planning daily transportation of all outbound loads, coordinating inbound loads and learning office management system skills. The third part of the training involves inventory control of the company’s warehouse.
Shriver learned many of these skills at Pratt. Land O'Lakes, like many other agriculture-related companies, is always in need of distribution management or supply chain graduates.
“Supply Chain roles in agriculture are growing at a rapid pace with technology enhancements and a global demand to feed the world,” said John Stone, the hub manager at WinField. “Our internships provide individuals an opportunity to experience our company, its culture, the people and the system that provides products and services for agriculture. There are and will continue to be jobs available with Land O’Lakes and within supply chain for students pursuing this type of career.”
Learning how to manage a shop and order supplies is crucial for other agriculture-related businesses, as well. Along with touring the WinField warehouse, Pratt students toured other businesses, including a KanEquip location.
“Our greatest need is for tech students, our second greatest need is for parts specialists,” said Richard Dugan, an ag service recruiter at KanEquip in Wamego. “You have to be very organized and read schematics.”
Dugan said KanEquip, which has 14 stores in Kansas, often has an opening for parts specialists.
By teaching students with hands-on learning, visiting sites and bringing in experts, Jenny Egging, an engineer and the program coordinator for Pratt’s new program, is able to engage her students both in person and online and introduce them to thriving agricultural and industrial opportunities.
Egging brings students to Western Supply of Hutchinson, Mize & Company of Kingman and Stanion Wholesale Electric, which is headquartered in Pratt but has 16 Kansas locations, including Garden City, Dodge City, Great Bend and Topeka.
“I connect them directly with the industry,” Egging said. “We focus more on sales operations within a branch, leadership and distribution logistics.
Although there is not another two-year Modern Distribution Sales & Management program in Kansas, WSU Tech offers a degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City has a Business with Logistics Management-focused degree.