A chat with Sydney Place-Sallstrom
FMN: What is your professional affiliation? How long have you served in this position?
Sydney Place-Sallstrom: I work for CHS, the nation’s largest agriculture cooperative, owned by farmers, ranchers and co-ops across the United States. A diversified global energy, grains and foods business and a Fortune 100 company, CHS is committed to helping its producers and member cooperatives grow their businesses through its domestic and global operations, which include refineries, processing plants and export facilities. CHS supplies its member cooperatives and producers with energy under its Cenex brand, crop nutrients, grain marketing services, livestock feed, food and food ingredients, along with business solutions, including consulting, insurance and financial and risk management services.
Since January 2012, I’ve worked as a market development analyst with my teammates across the country delivering strategies and customized solutions to member cooperatives to help their businesses grow and strengthen their relationship with CHS. Projects include mergers and acquisitions, equity restructuring, strategic business planning and board development, among others.
FMN: What are your organization's primary objectives?
SPS: The aligned solutions department of CHS has four key objectives:
1. Market development for member cooperatives
2. Market development for CHS business units
3. CEO and executive level placement for cooperatives
4. Leadership and organization development for cooperatives
It is these objectives that drive our business platform of education, strategic planning and organization development.
FMN: How does your organization benefit its members?
SPS: Cooperatives are a unique business model because they provide members the products and services needed to operate and pay out proportional dividends for those purchases based on year-end profitability. In 2012, CHS recorded a record profit of $1.26 billion and returned $600 million of that to its member cooperatives and producers in the form of patronage checks. A full $116 million alone was returned to Minnesota members.
FMN: Where did you grow up?
SPS: I grew up in Okabena and credit my involvement in the National FFA Organization to my current career in the agriculture industry. While serving as a Minnesota state FFA officer, I was introduced to leaders within CHS and offered an internship. After that first experience, I pursued opportunities outside of the industry to broaden my experience but knew agriculture was where I wanted to be upon graduating from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. CHS, with its global mindset and rural roots, was the best fit for me.
FMN: Outside interests?
SPS: As an old Jackson County Arts Guilds alum, I’ve acquired a reinvigorated interest in the theater community of the Twin Cities now that I’m through with college and have time to devote. I was in the musical “White Christmas” in Northfield last December and will be in the stage play “The Seven Year Itch” this summer in Faribault. Apart from my theater involvement, I am a season ticket holder to the Minnesota Gopher football and men’s basketball teams, obsessed with all the horrible reality TV my parents hate and am attempting to take up golf (my new husband’s idea, not mine).