A five-year plan turned into a 31-year run at Cooperative Grain and Supply for manager Lyman Adams.
He joined the grain cooperative in January 1986 and will retire in the next month or two.
“We realized these communities were good places to raise kids,” he said, explaining the reason he and his wife, Marie, decided to stay in Hillsboro.
Adams is a devoted father and grandfather. When the couple moved to Hillsboro, their oldest child, Kyle, was in third grade, Kara was in kindergarten, and Kane was 3 years old. They all were active in extra-curricular activities and graduated from Hillsboro High School.
Adams coached summer ball for several years. His best memory is when Kane came back from college one summer to help him coach. Adams had to leave for a few days to attend a Farmland Industries meeting.
“While at the meeting, I was informed that I now was an assistant coach,” he said. “But I didn’t mind. I enjoyed watching him work with the kids.”
Adams now has nine grandchildren ranging in age from 12 to 3 years old.
“We’re chasing grandkids now and are looking forward to being involved in their activities,” he said.
He is looking forward to having more time to pursue a woodworking hobby, creating things for family. He plans to help his daughter finish her family’s basement.
The couple are avid K-State sports fans. They hold season football tickets and are planning to go to the bowl game later this year. They plan to travel to some road games in future years.
Adams said he never expected to be involved in agriculture even though he was raised on a farm. He obtained an accounting degree from Kansas State University and got a job as an auditor of farm cooperatives.
“I saw that there were some well-managed coops and something I might like to do,” he said.
He was an office manager for grain elevators at Great Bend and Pawnee Rock for 10 years before coming to Cooperative Grain.
Adams facilitated the co-op’s decision to join Countryside Feeds in September 1997 and Team Marketing Alliance in April 2000. TMA does all the grain marketing for CG&S members.
“Those two limited liability companies have kept us where we are at,” Adams said. “They provided the size and scale we needed in marketing and feed. They are the biggest keys to our positive position.”
Adams has seen good times and bad times in the grain business.
“Ag runs in cycles,” he said. “When I came in 1986, it was a time of farm foreclosures. The years 2000 to 2005 were down years, too, but 2005 to 2014 were a golden age.
“When farmers make money, co-ops make money and everybody is happier,” he said. “Tough times are tough for everybody.”
Adams served 11 years on the board of directors for Farmland Industries, the largest ag cooperative in North America at the time.
He said his biggest disappointment was when Farmland decided to declare bankruptcy in 2002 and sell off its assets.
“I was there to the bitter end,” he said, “but it helped my career growth.”
Adams was pleased to lead the celebration of the co-op’s 50th anniversary at its annual meeting in 2016.
He was disappointed a proposed merger with MKC failed to get approval from the co-op’s members in November, but he understood that, for some members, it was difficult to give up 100 percent control. He said his focus has shifted back to CG&S and planning the next annual meeting in January.
The 65-year-old manager said retirement from CG&S has been at the back of his mind for a few years, and this seemed like a good to step down.
“We are in good health and can do some things,” he said. “Leaving our good employees will be the hardest thing. We’re small enough that I know all of them.”
He praised all the board members he has worked with throughout his tenure at Cooperative Grain.
He said he will stay on as chief operating officer at Countryside Feed, and Marie will continue to work at the eye clinic in Hillsboro three days a week.