The Distinguished Service Award is Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association’s most prestigious award given annually to recognize someone who has made a significant and notable contribution to our industry and/or our association. The contribution may be of scientific achievement, marketing, engineering, transportation or management, but it is not limited to these specifically.
2020 Distinguished Service Award Winner
Gary Cless

Gary Cless

Gary attended and graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in agriculture economics in 1978. After a brief hiatus in Europe, he settled down with a job at a local fertilizer, grain and feed dealer in Farley, Missouri.

His real education began in Missouri as he did everything associated with fertilizer including application, mixing dry fertilizer and filling ammonia tanks.

After four years he had an opportunity to work for Farmland Industries, a regional cooperative located in Kansas City. He helped in the fertilizer equipment department in inside sales. Gary had a wonderful opportunity to learn from his supervisors who were the ones who helped design the original equipment used in anhydrous storage and application. His education led him to conduct ammonia schools as part of his job in a seven-state area. He still feels he learned from the best.

In 1987, he advanced his career by beginning with Fairbank Equipment based in Wichita, Kansas. After a few years he began again helping with ammonia schools in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas as well as helping Fairbank with inside sales and purchasing.

In total, Gary estimates he taught around 15,000 students – many having heard his jokes several times over the years. He is proud to be part of the team who put together the new Compressed Gas Association’s national standard on handling Anhydrous Ammonia in 2014.

Gary is now retired, but still helps in giving ammonia schools, planning new ammonia facilities and troubleshooting problems that occur out in the field.

2021 Distinguished Service Award Winner
Dave Wilcox

Dave Wilcox

Dave retired at the end of 2018 after 42 years in agribusiness. He began his career in March of 1978 at an Evans Grain location, working at Jewell Agri-Services in Jewell as a floater operator and maintenance man.

Dave moved to Thurston Agri-Services, in Nebraska in January of 1986 – his first location serving as a manager, where he also became a Certified Crop Adviser in 1996, passing one of the first tests offered in the program.

A career stop in Owensborough, Kentucky introduced him to, in its infancy stages, precision agriculture. With a newfound knowledge of precision ag and the desire to stop moving so frequently, Wilcox contacted his old boss and friend, Frank Shelton, who was then Agronomy Manager at Farmway Coop in Beloit.

Dave was hired to develop a precision ag consulting program. Upon the industry’s growth, Wilcox, a few growers, Randy Taylor and Scott Staggenborg formed the Kansas Ag Research Association. Dave was on the original board of directors and was president in 2003.

At Farmway, he became distribution center manager, seed manager, chemical manager, then returned back to distribution center manager combined with ordering, pricing and program management of chemicals. He also oversaw all seed programs for the coop prior to its merger with Central Valley Ag. His role grew even larger upon the merger and he tirelessly worked until his retirement in 2018. Wilcox proudly served on the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association board of directors and was a key member of the Kansas Agri Business Expo committee for many years.

Previous Award Winners

Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association awarded its members a variety of awards from 1963 until 1988 when the Agri-Business Service Award, Education Service Award and Communications Service Award were combined into the Distinguished Service Award.

Agri-Business Service Award

1963 | Judd Wolfram
1964 | None
1965 | Geroge A. Wickstrom
1966 | Harold H. Wilson
1967 | Wilbur E. Leavering
1968 | Leon F. Baker Jr.
1969 | Kenneth C. Johnson
1970 | R.H. Meridith
1971 | William R. Morand
1972 | Jerry C. Hope
1973 | George L. Smith
1974 | Jack Brandau
1975 | Don Westheffer
1976 | Royal D. Reid
1977 | John E. Sloup
1978 | Robert E. Morin
1979 | Edgar J. Haynie
1980 | Galen L. Mears
1981 | Robert T. Schwanzle
1982 | Charles E. Hamon
1983 | Charles K. Johnson
1984 | Rollie Stuckenholtz
1985 | William S. Armfield
1986 | Glen Dalluge
1987 | Warren Beavers

Education Service Award

1963 | Floyd W. Smith
1964 | E.A. Cleavinger
1965 | Verlin H. Peterson
1966 | Clarence Hollingsworth
1967 | Raymond Hoss
1968 | Roscoe Ellis Jr.
1969 | Frank Bieberly
1970 | Robert Sloan
1971 | Robert Nuttelman
1972 | Larry Murphy
1973 | Harold Jones
1974 | Dale Edelblute
1975 | Bill Phillips, Claude King
1976 | Beverly D. Stagg
1977 | D. Dean Dicken
1978 | David Whitney
1979 | Howard Wilkins
1980 | George M. Herron
1981 | Raymond Wary Jr.
1982 | Dell Gates
1983 | Oliver Russ
1984 | Robert Bohannon
1985 | George R. TenEyck
1986 | Robert Gilbert, Marshall Walker
1987 | Gary Kilgore

Communications Service Award

1978 | H. Thayne Cozart
1979 | Galen Hubbs
1980 | Larry Steckline
1981 | Geroge Logan
1982 | Paul DeWeese
1983 | Frank J. Buchanan
1984 | Rex Childs
1985 | Urlin Slater
1986 | Jim Suber
1987 | William Sullins

Distinguished Service Award

1988 | David Kissel
1989 | Mike Kleiber/Jerry Doop
1990 | George Ham
1991 | Jerry Boettcher
1992 | Ed Dwyer
1993 | Jack Dutra
1994 | Alan Kimmal
1995 | David Selman
1996 | David Whitney
1997 | Harold Henry
1998 | Dale Lambley
1999 | Mike Fraser
2000 | Johnny Schaben
2001 | Mel Steinlage
2002 | Jamie Clover Adams
2003 | Jim Lee
2004 | Doug Wareham
2005 | Larry Shivers
2006 | Chuck Kuntz
2007 | Steve Kruse
2008 | Doyle Pearl
2009 | Keith Karnes
2011 | Lana O’Connor
2012 | Jerry Martin
2013 | Ford West
2014 | Roger Long
2015 | Laura Pearl
2016 | Mike Schaffter
2017 | Aaron Harries
2018 | Kevin Brady
2019 | Charlie Swayze
2020 | Gary Cless
2021 | Dave Wilcox
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