Born and raised on a farm in central Minnesota, the curiosity and passion for agriculture instilled in him as a child have transformed into key attributes for his career today. As a product service advisor for Koch Agronomic Services (KAS), Buckentin uses that curiosity to find solutions that can help set customers up for success.
“My role, it's not just about the equipment, it's about finding a solution for each individual operation’s needs. It could be tweaking the steps throughout a specific application, or it could be adjusting how products are applied.”
Buckentin said he has always had a passion for figuring out how things work, and that skillset has been essential in being able to problem-solve and find individualized solutions.
“In this role, my goal is to ensure our products and the team behind them have the tools they need to succeed and as a product service advisor, I'm going to make sure our customers have the optimal experience with our products. Every location is unique.”
By helping customers, Buckentin said his goal is to help retailers and growers maximize their efficiency, especially in crucial seasons when time and labor are in high demand but short supply. He’s passionate about this goal because of his own agricultural background.
“I grew up on a family farm and now own it with my brother, so I have a live stake in what happens on my farm and in the agriculture industry. I think that brings a unique insight to our team as I can honestly say that I’ve handled and applied each KAS product to my own farm and have seen first-hand how they perform in the field.”
Having that first-hand understanding of what farmers experience is what Buckentin said drives him to continue working to provide retailers and growers with the tools they need.
“It’s challenging and, in some ways nerve wrecking, but it’s those ups and downs through the growing season that keep you on your feet. It amazes me what we can accomplish these days with the tools and solutions we have available, and I strive to ask myself, ‘How can I make this easier or more efficient?’”
While Buckentin has always played a role in supporting farmers, his journey to KAS and the product service role was a long road.
Buckentin has been with KAS for about 3 years, however, he is relatively new to his role, joining the product service team in January 2023. Previously, Buckentin was on the sales team as the Minnesota territory business manager (TBM). How he came to make the career change? It’s a story of transformation and self-actualization.
One of the more unique qualities behind all companies within Koch Industries (Koch), are the principles and values that guide the businesses and empower employees. These principles provide employees with the opportunity to grow and make career shifts within the company—such as in Buckentin’s case. However, he states his journey wasn’t a linear one.
Before joining KAS, Buckentin graduated from South Dakota University with a degree in agronomy which later led him to Montana to work as a sales agronomist. Prior to a KAS recruiter reaching out, Buckentin didn’t know much about KAS or Koch in general.
“Before I started working here, I didn't have much knowledge on Koch, but a recruiter had contacted me and said ‘Hey, I’ve got this neat opportunity. What do you think?’ and I just thought, ‘Sure I’ll give it a shot.’”
As luck would have it, Buckentin had arrived in Wichita, Kansas a day early for his interview, and wandered into a local bookstore near his hotel.
“I walked in and, of course, whose books are front and center? Charles Koch’s—specifically Good Profit. I thought it might come in handy for my interview, so I took it back to the room and start flipping through pages. That’s when, no kidding, I started to get excited because so much of what I was reading on Principle Based Management™ (PBM) and his philosophy made total sense to me. There was this ah-ha moment.”
While his excitement for the opportunity had increased, Buckentin said he needed to see firsthand if the culture and philosophy discussed in the book translated to the office.
“The next morning, I head into the interview and as I’m meeting different teams and employees, I began to realize and see that this is an elite group of people and I want to be a part of this team. There’s the culture aspect and then there's the people aspect and that's what attracted me to KAS.”
After being with KAS for three years, Buckentin said he is still excited about his choice as it allowed him to eventually realize where he could create the most value and where he was most passionate.
“It didn’t happen overnight. My role was as a sales or sales agronomist my whole life, but over time, my interests began to change and the more I worked with the product service team, the more I started to realize where my strengths were.”
He said his interest in his current role initially peaked at the 2022 summer meeting when he realized KAS planned to build out the product service team.
“That was about six months before I even applied for the job, but I talked to my supervisor right away. The timing was great because, at that meeting, we were discussing PBM and, you know, we weren’t just talking it, I was living it.”
Buckentin’s transformation from a TBM to a product service advisor is a great example of the growth opportunities available at Koch companies. He said it’s a valuable and unique quality because it allows you to grow based on how you and your interests develop throughout your career.
“In high school and college, there’s a pressure put on you to decide in a few short years what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. When you do, you’re oftentimes stuck or limited. Ten years ago, I would have never expected to be where I’m at. I’m not saying it was easy, but you have to have the willingness and the courage to try and follow your interests and skills.”
Buckentin said his journey with KAS is unique because not only is this transformation and self-actualization supported by the company’s leadership, it’s encouraged.
“My sales supervisor supported me the whole way from the initial conversation through the transition into my new role. My career has definitely been a journey.”
Outside of Work
Buckentin currently resides in his home state of Minnesota with his wife and their three boys. When Buckentin isn’t in the office, he can be found spearfishing, sitting in the tractor cab with their family Morkie, Wilbur, and chasing their kids from sporting events and school. His favorite activity, however, is traveling with his family.
“We love to travel and go to places where we can go off the beaten path and explore outside the tourist areas. Europe, the Bahamas, Boston—outside of our annual camping trip to Duluth [Minnesota], we try to go somewhere different every year."
He said the best part of his family’s adventures is being able to watch his kids grow up exploring with the same curiosity as he did.
“I see a lot of my myself in my kids with their interest in the outdoors and their curiosity on how things work. I've been blessed in many ways and I just want to ensure that my children can chase their own dreams as well.”