PCDC Salary Study Gives AgWest Knowledge to Budget for Growth

PCDC Salary Study Gives AgWest Knowledge to Budget for Growth Main Photo

24 Feb 2021

A regional salary study revealed some surprising information and good news for AgWest Commodities.

Paul Mussman, president of the Holdrege-based agricultural marketing firm, said he wanted to be sure the company was competitive with employee pay so he sought a salary comparison study.

“We wanted more accurate and up-to-date numbers for expansion, growth and diversity,” Mussman said. “We wanted to be able to better budget, forecast and prepare for what our paychecks should be.”

AgWest has been in business for 21 years, and while Mussman said he thought the company salaries were competitive, he wanted to be sure.

“There’s a lot of reasons why people would move for a job: housing, schools, churches, culture,” he said. “But money is a reason, too.”

Mussman initially talked to job recruiters and looked online for salary studies but only found studies with salary information for the Lincoln and Omaha areas of Nebraska. He asked PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery if he had information on more rural salaries and discovered that PCDC could provide salary studies.

The Phelps County Development Corporation was able to compile a salary comparison based on 10 positions similar to jobs at AgWest. The study showed average salaries for similar jobs in rural counties such as Blaine, Custer, Valley, Kearney, Harlan and Franklin.

Mussman said he was happy to see how well AgWest salaries compared to some of the others. He was also surprised at how well the rural salaries compared to salaries in the urban areas. Mussman said he, like many others, believed the myth that higher salaries require a move to the city.

“This move to the city to make more money, I’m not sure that holds water,” he said. “It does with some positions, but not all,”

That’s good news for AgWest, which now has offices in 10 locations that are mostly rural.

The company has added 15 employees and three new locations in the past five years. AgWest now employs 49 staff members with 21 of those in Holdrege. The company has offices in Gretna, Sutton, Imperial and Beatrice in Nebraska; Yuma, Colo.; Paola, Kan; and Humboldt, Davenport and Adel, Iowa.

Mussman said AgWest is currently seeking staff (mainly brokers and broker associates) in seven of its 10 locations, including Holdrege. Expansion into new territories typically occurs organically for AgWest. The company opens a new office in a new location if the right person steps forward.

“We can expand for the right people who have proven experience and a good working relationship with area farmers,” Mussman said.

Mussman said he is grateful to PCDC for providing the salary study and all of the other resources it provides.

“These aren’t little decisions we are making,” Mussman said. “PCDC has been able to help us with getting the information to make our decision-making process easier.”

One of PCDC’s strategic goals is to support the retention and growth of current Phelps County businesses. If your business needs information or research, please reach out to Tillery or a PCDC staff member at (308) 995-4148 or email Tillery at Ron@PhelpsCountyNE.com.