Logistics at Federated are Changing Hands

Jun 12, 2024

Ken O'Brien
For 28+ years, Ken O’Brien has been a valued member of the Federated Co-ops team, and on June 7th he signed off on his last purchase order to begin a well-earned retirement.
O’Brien was around Federated long enough to go through most of the co-op’s mergers – Pine City, Central Rivers, Mille Lacs Ag, etc. Through a combination of moves between those co-ops, he spent a good portion of his Federated career managing feed and grain.
When Federated exited the grain business, O’Brien began working with crop insurance, credit, and financing at the co-op. From there he transitioned into being the petroleum division manager, and “seven or eight years ago” he took on his last Federated role as the director of procurement and logistics.
He managed the complex logistics of the ag, energy, and retail sectors of the co-op through good days and not-so-good days, but, he said, “I enjoyed the constant challenge to the changing industry … things were constantly evolving and changing … there was always something to learn.” He thrived in an atmosphere of change and adjustment. “That’s part of the challenge,” he said.
“The people [at Federated] are its greatest strength,” O’Brien said. “The people who have worked here have always persevered,” he said. He recollected how hard it was to work through mergers and eliminate jobs: “That was a tough thing to go through.”
As the man in charge of agronomy purchasing, among many other logistical aspects of the job, he saw the agronomy side of the business expand significantly, with new applicator equipment and the like – “but without the people, the equipment is nothing,” he said.
So, what’s next for a guy who’s spent nearly three decades purchasing and organizing products and equipment? “I’m looking forward to doing some traveling – and more fishing,” he said. (He and his wife built their retirement home near Fifty Lakes, MN.) He said he’s always been “pretty curious,” so he may explore a new hobby or two as well.
The one thing he knows for certain: “I’m going to miss the people I’ve been working with, many good people over the years, both customers and employees.”
And if you’re wondering about those steaks that have to be grilled for Discovery Plot tour lunches, O’Brien said, “I’ve trained John Swanson the best I could to do the steaks!”
Federated Co-ops wishes Ken O’Brien the best in retirement, with many thanks for 28+ years of loyal service! Congratulations!

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