Partner Success Story: River Valley Co-op partners with AgVend to deliver “whole acre” service to customers



VP of Sales & Marketing: “It’s just been tremendous, just the evolution of our business and how that’s just really the foundation of our success with our customers and how we interact with our customers. It’s really kind of become the foundation of what we do.”



River Valley Co-op is a full service co-op with 30 locations around eastern Iowa and western Illinois. With 350 employees, and offering agronomy, energy, feed, and grain business, River Valley operates on a full service model.

According to Craig Patty, VP of Sales and Marketing, that model is what differentiates River Valley within the marketplace. When compared with a Nutrien-like retailer that’s mainly focused on just one specific area, River Valley places emphasis on the whole acre, and that’s what sets them apart in the eyes of the customer.

The following transcript is from an interview with Patty, and has been edited for readability.



You mentioned the whole acre – what has the AgVend-built digital platform done for your support of that whole acre and how has your team adopted that into their daily interactions with customers?


It’s just been tremendous, just the evolution of our business and how that’s just really the foundation of our success with our customer and how we interact with our customer. It’s really kind of become the foundation of what we do. We talk about the River Valley way and we’ve invested in sales, training and developing our people, but that along with the portal has just been everything.

We started with our people – making sure it was a part of their daily activities. We reinforced it. We had adoption. We kind of enforced adoption to the point where people realized, “Wow, this really works well.” And so it really became a big part of how they do business with customers.

We started with agronomy, and every order that we have, whether it’s fertilizer or chemicals, has to be approved through the portal. So that really drove the adoption because it had to be done that way or they couldn’t get their orders through. So that was a huge cost savings on our end as well.

The customer adoption followed – we introduced grain this last fall and then it just exploded because everybody likes to see their paycheck, they like to see the scale tickets and contract balances. And so that just took it to the next level.

Now we’ve introduced energy and we just acquired an energy business here this spring and have seen tremendous adoption by those customers.We’re just continuing to see it evolve.



How has River Valley’s use of a digital platform amplified or enhanced those customer relationships that you had?


I think the platforms definitely enhance the relationships we have with our customers because they can access our information 24/7, and they can do business when they’re in the autosteer tractor or their favorite chair at night. We get that customer interaction when they want to talk, when they want to do business with us.

It also has eliminated some of the tedious things that our people might have had to go out [to the farm] and have a conversation about. Instead, they take care of all that busy work through the portal. It’s really enhanced those relationships. When our people go to the farm gate, they’re taking care of business. They’re not just taking care of a signed contract or something that just needs to be done – we’ve already taken care of that through the portal.


It’s really enhanced those relationships. When our people go to the farm gate, they’re taking care of business. They’re not just taking care of a signed contract or something that just needs to be done – we’ve already taken care of that through the portal.


What are some of the biggest values your team has seen as they’ve started using the AgVend-built digital platform and how do these help serve the whole acre?


When I look at how the team has embraced it, I think a few things come to mind:

  • The ease of doing business, having that information at their fingertips
  • Being able to create orders right through their phone while they’re sitting with the customer
  • Having their contract signed while they’re sitting with the customer

There’s a lot of things – in the past, they would have had to rely on administrative work or something. They don’t have to worry about that today. They can do a lot of that on their own.

A prime example [for customers] is just the ability for them to go in and look at their grain contracts, look at prices, make an offer through the portal, or perhaps they’ve just made a fertilizer purchase that they should make a grain sale to lock in that ROI.

Another customer example is just looking at products when they want to look at products or after they’ve made a purchase. So they can think about purchasing this to go with that, or to complement that product that they just purchased. They have that information at their fingertips and can even look back at historical purchases from two and three years ago to see what they purchased in the past as well.



River Valley has really embraced digital marketing. What value has your team seen from using AgVend’s digital marketing capabilities to communicate more broadly with your customers?


Digital marketing has just been a great complement to the portal. I’m so glad we invested in it and made that commitment – it’s been great to run our campaigns through that.

In the past we’d run our campaigns through Winfield and it worked okay, but we just really didn’t have that true measurement of when the customer purchased, why they purchased and how much they purchased. Today we have all that at our fingertips. We can put a promotion in place, and then we’ll watch that progress throughout the selling season. We can see the investment we’re making and make sure it’s a positive one.


Today we have all that at our fingertips. We can put a promotion in place, and then we’ll watch that progress throughout the selling season.


Thinking about having an added layer of visibility into sales that are tied to these marketing campaigns – what has been the reaction from your team?


It’s been really good. Sales people love to be measured. They love to be compared against their peers and [now we have] the ability to do that. They can see it right from their phone. We (leadership) can see that and have access to that as well. [Being able to share] the drive in those campaigns with our CEO and our leadership team [has allowed us] to show what we’re doing and some of the success we’re having through the portal.

Just the ability to quickly look at something and see some success we’re having and quickly highlight and recognize one of our people for doing a great job – having that at your fingertips as a manager is a big deal.


Just the ability to quickly look at something and see some success we’re having and quickly highlight and recognize one of our people for doing a great job – having that at your fingertips as a manager is a big deal.


Why would you tell another retailer to think about or really consider using AgVend as their partner for a digital enablement platform? Would you recommend it to others?


Why AgVend? I’ve just been extremely impressed with the company. I just have a ton of respect for Alexander and his mission, and he’s glad to be a part of it. When we joined, I think we were maybe the second customer on this platform, so it’s been a great experience. What I really like and appreciate about AgVend (and I came from the software space before I came to River Valley) is that they’ve delivered on everything.

They’ve committed to timelines, deadlines, enhancements. It’s amazing what they accomplish in a short amount of time. It’s incredible. Just a true partner and it’s really transformed our business and I’m glad to be a partner with them. I think the portal allows us to complement our efforts as we focus on the whole acre, all facets of the customer’s business.

The last thing I want to mention [is how the portal] has really helped from a recruiting standpoint and hiring new sellers. We have people that come in from larger competitors and they come in, and they love the portal. They’ve experienced the digital space [in the past], but it just hasn’t worked as well and it hasn’t helped them do their business.

When we sit down with somebody we’re trying to recruit, we have that conversation, we show them the portal and they get pretty excited [to work here]. That’s a huge deal for us.


When we sit down with somebody we’re trying to recruit, we have that conversation, we show them the portal and they get pretty excited [to work here]. That’s a huge deal for us.

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