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Mutual Marketing

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:12pm

Kathy Wettleson was a daddy's girl. "I was Dad's sidekick," she says. "When I was 7 or 8, I was at the kitchen table when he was listening to markets on the radio. Afterwards, I asked, 'Dad, what's July corn?'

"He said it's what they'd pay for corn delivered in July. It's a futures market -- they try to predict price. It piqued my interest and got the gears going." It was only one piece of the marketing puzzle. After marrying Postville, Iowa, farmer Marcus Wettleson in 1993, Kathy picked up where she left off to piece together the big picture.

As their operation grew, Kathy says marketing became a greater priority. When son Blake was born and daughter Shanna was 5, Kathy quit her off-farm job. "I was home doing the bookkeeping and finances," she says. "It became clear to me that marketing has a huge impact on the bottom line. I decided it could be my job to improve our sales."

Kathy says her learning curve was gradual. "I started going to marketing meetings with Marcus and doing a lot of reading," she says. "I talked to a friend who owns a grain elevator."

Today, the couple works as a team to market crops. "We discuss marketing strategy before the crop is in the ground and make sales decisions together," she says. "I'm good at implementing and sticking to a plan. If it's a mutual decision, no one can play the blame game."

Marcus appreciates Kathy's daily reading of market news and commen¬tary and monitoring overnight trade. "It really helps for her to read and decipher it and check the local basis," he says.

She adds, "I call him if something happens or I see a sales opportunity. We throw ideas back and forth."

Kathy also made it her business to learn futures and options. "In marketing you're never right," she says. "Either you sell too much too soon or sell too little near the highs. Like everyone else, I get bullish at the market top and scared to death at the bottom. I constantly remind myself that if it was sold at a profit, it was a good sale."

The Wettlesons subscribe to market advisory services and work with advisers. They talk weekly with Lawrence Kane at Stewart Peterson Group in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Kathy encourages other women to attend marketing meetings, and ask questions. "Talk to people who are knowledgeable," she says. "Most would be glad to answer questions."

She adds, "It helps if women recognize the stress in marketing. We can lighten the load by sharing it. Neither one of us claims to know it all or make all the right choices, but as the saying goes, two heads are better than one!"

Marcus agrees. "She takes a load off my shoulders," he says. "The other day Kathy reminded me of a farm program deadline coming up. It would be tough to run the business without her help."

"We must be partners. My name is even on the trucks," Kathy says with a laugh.

Photography: Harlen Persinger

Kathy Wettleson was a daddy's girl. "I was Dad's sidekick," she says. "When I was 7 or 8, I was at the kitchen table when he was listening to markets on the radio. Afterwards, I asked, 'Dad, what's July corn?'

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