Over the past eight years Kion Kashefi has gained immense experience in the agriculture industry. Through this experience, he has been able to obtain a PCA and CCA license and a Masters in Nutritional Biology from UC Davis. More importantly, during these pursuits, he has involved himself in various aspects of his current employer’s operation including: sales, customer service, delivery, seed blending, product loading/shipping and ordering. This involvement has allowed him to gain a greater perspective and appreciation for the industry and is still his proudest achievement: versatility.
Previously, Kion worked as a crop consultant, nutrient management specialist, and dairy nutritionist in order to provide an inclusive consulting approach for his customers. The goal of this approach was to link all aspects of the dairy farm: nutrition, soil fertility, nutrient/waste management and seed hybrid selection in order to maximize efficiency and production. This approach was also implemented in Nevada in order to provide support to local farmers and help increase sales for his current employer.
Currently, Kion is working as a Business Development Manager, pursuing new market opportunities, both domestic and international. During this time, he has helped develop relationships with the U.S. Department of Commerce, FAS/USDA and various trading groups. He has also helped market new specialty products into new customer areas. After helping establish a new market area, he has helped hire and position new employees into the respective area.
One thing Kion has learned over the last eight years is that no matter the achievements, degrees, licenses or increases in sales and growth, he is never too good to not take the time to shake a customer’s hand, lift a bag of seed or get his hands dirty on a weekend. Kion never forgets these core values and principles that make the Agriculture Industry so unique.
How did you get started? What inspired you to start this business
There has always been a part of me that wanted to be in Agriculture. After graduating college I decided to venture into the industry even though that wasn’t my original plan in life. I took a chance with very little experience, but it has paid off.
How do you make money?
I am a salaried manager with an agronomic input company and I also have my own consulting service in which I offer to review and approve Nutrient Management Plans for Dairies, and in which I offer private Nutrition/Economic services.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I started in the Spring of 2006, at times I did doubt what I was doing because I was new to the Ag Industry and did not have much experience. I looked for advise and guidance from my boss and mentor at the time; he taught me about patience and seeing the big picture for long term success, which helped me a lot through my times of doubt.
How did you get your first customer?
It was a “cold call”, I presented myself well, and was honest about the type of service and products my company can offer. I also made sure there was follow up after the first meeting, I showed that I cared about the customer’s operation and success.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We are offering “solutions to problems” marketing strategy. Meaning that we are offering value added specialty products that offer immediate results for our customers. Hence, we are steering away from the conventional products on the market; offering a new set of tools to help our customers receive in-season solutions to their problems.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My persistence and work ethic. I love what I do, and I have a committed and driven perspective on my career that has helped me be successful. I also believe that my willingness to help others in the industry and my willingness to help wherever my company needs it, has also helped me be successful.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
To see others that I have helped get started with the company achieve success.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I believe there is great opportunity in the Ag Industry, and I am most excited about seeing other young employees that we hire achieve long term success with our company.
Is it important to you to volunteer and give back to the local community?
Yes, definitely. I spend a lot of my free time volunteering for different causes. I just recently joined a Rotary Club in my local community and I am also involved in helping support young students at Jr. Livestock Sales during the summer. I think we need more young people in the community who are willing to spend some free time volunteering.