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Source: AGCO news release

Four professional applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for the 2012 Operator of the Year, a program that recognizes the industry's top custom applicators in North America and the dedication they demonstrate both on and off the field.

The finalists have been invited to attend the 2012 Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Conference and Expo Nov. 27-29 in San Diego as honorary guests of AGCO. During the conference, one of these professionals will be named the 2012 Operator of the Year and awarded a new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.

"Over the past seven years, we've received hundreds of remarkable nominations," said Mark Sharitz, AGCO Application Equipment director of marketing.

"This year's competition is no different. The impressive pool of nominees made it especially challenging to narrow down the field, but we're proud to have these four gentlemen as this year's finalists. Each exemplifies the hard work, dedication, leadership and outstanding customer service this award recognizes."

This year's finalists are:

Carl Petersen, Crop Production Services, Pipestone, Minn. - Customer satisfaction is what Petersen has been delivering for the past six years. He was nominated by Ryan Ridl, location manager for Crop Production Services, who said Petersen treats every field as if it were his own. "Known for always giving 100 percent, Carl goes out of his way to make sure the machines are ready for the field and the customer is completely satisfied," Ridl said.

When he learned he was a finalist, Petersen said he was pretty shocked. "I feel honored because I take pride in my work and just try to do the best I can for our farmers to fill their needs."

Glen Slabaugh, Clunette Elevator Company, Inc., Leesburg, Ind. - Slabaugh marked a milestone this fall by surpassing one million acres applied during his 37-year career. He was nominated by Jared Haughee, Clunette Elevator Company certified crop adviser, who said: "With his positive attitude and willingness to take on any job, Glen has earned a high level of respect from customers and other applicators alike."

Slabaugh said he was honored by the recognition. "It's a pretty big industry with a lot of good people, so I feel really good about it," he said. "I'm glad to see this program recognize the applicators who are out there doing this work."

Paul "Rocky" Lang, CHS, Inc., Royal City, Wash. - This 10-year application veteran was nominated by Ted Freeman, CHS branch manager, who said Lang has a "preferred applicator" status with customers. "He continuously stays at the top of his game and has that special quality to connect with his customers."
Lang said he was honored to even be nominated. "I don't do this job to win awards," he said. "It's my way of helping to feed the world and the next best thing to actually being a farmer. I'm very proud and want to represent all the other applicators."

Paul Folden, Garrison Farmers Union Elevator, Garrison, N.D. - Folden, with 27 years of application experience, sprayed and spread approximately 100,000 acres in the last year. "He goes above and beyond to make sure customers get the value they pay for," said Chris Gratton, Garrison Farmers Union Elevator general manager, who submitted Folden's nomination.

"I was surprised and don't know if it has sunk in yet," Folden admitted. "Just the recognition that your employer feels you're worthy means a lot to me."

Besides demonstrating their commitment in the field, all four finalists have an impressive record of community service. Petersen helps youth with livestock at his county fair and regularly participates in local blood drives. Slabaugh has been head deacon of his church for nearly 10 years, served as a Sunday school teacher and also visits nursing home patients to help lift their spirits. Around his busy application schedule, Lang freely gives his time to the local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and to his church. Folden was a county deputy sheriff for nearly 20 years and served on the local volunteer fire department. He also is a co-founder of the North Dakota Junior Governor's Cup fishing derby, which benefits the local community.

Now in its seventh year, Operator of the Year is open to U.S. and Canadian custom applicators who are nominated by their agricultural retailers. A panel of judges evaluates each nominee on commitment to the profession, performance in the field and community involvement. All nominees will receive a certificate from AGCO recognizing their nomination for this prestigious award. For more information, visit

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