Ron Farrell (right) with AgGateway President Wendy Smith and Chief Technology Officer Jim Wilson

In Remembrance

Ron Farrell (1943-2020)

By Wendy Smith, AgGateway President and CEO

Many of you knew Ron Farrell, a key driver of the founding of AgGateway, its first president, and a tireless advocate for AgGateway’s mission. We were so sorry to learn of Ron’s passing in late January.

Ron was always positive, and an energetic and inspirational presence. As his colleague Steve Watts wrote, “Ron’s profound impact on each of us was not merely the result of his considerable skill, charisma, and boundless energy, it was also the result of the genuine interest he took in each of us and our future success. Nothing Ron Farrell ever did was about him; it was always about what was possible and what could be accomplished, together.”

Ron served as a mentor to many of us, and often provided advice and hands-on help as needed. In fact he was recognized for those and other of his contributions in December, when he received the Jack Eberspacher Lifetime Achievement Award from the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). At that time, ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock said, “Ron’s leadership within the ag retail community has led him to be widely known as one of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry.” More on Ron’s career can be found in this AgWeb article, and in this wonderful tribute by Paul Schrimpf in CropLife.

Ron grew up in northwest Iowa, attended Loras College and graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in agronomy and chemistry. He met his partner in life, Judi, when he was a freshman at Loras, and they married in 1967. While still in college, Ron worked as an intern with Dupont, and later held positions with Union Carbide and Shell Chemical. In 1969, Ron and Judi partnered with three other couples to purchase Brayton Chemicals in West Burlington, Iowa. In 1982, Ron and Judi moved their three daughters to southeastern Minnesota to start a farming operation. The family returned to Burlington in 1985 where Ron accepted a management position with what was then the Brayton Division of Wilbur-Ellis Company. After earning an Executive MBA from Stanford, Ron was named Vice President of Wilbur-Ellis Company, Southern Division, and he and Judi moved to McAllen, Texas, where Ron had responsibility for the southern United States and Mexico.

In 1997, Ron retired from Wilbur-Ellis and partnered with others to found Farrell Growth Group, an ag consulting firm for which he was President and CEO until the end of 2019.

Ron was a true visionary in the ag industry and left his mark on many colleagues and customers. He will be sorely missed by all of us.