As a kid, Allan Pohlman spent some summers riding around with his father, hauling grain from farmers to elevators within Ohio. In those months he would move around the state, accumulating windshield miles, Allan got small snapshots of different growing operations. He saw a variant tractor model, specific irrigation techniques, or overheard differing conversations on performance, struggles, successes. “As a kid, it is easy to feel like you’re all in everything that’s going on,” Allan says to me today, calling in from Delphous, Ohio, where he works remotely as a grower executive for Indigo Research Partners. “That’s the way it was those summers. Like I saw everything happening but didn’t have the whole picture.”
Allan’s father, as they went around from farm to elevator and interfaced with growers and grain managers, spoke the language – he had been a cattleman himself and worked for an elevator when not hauling. The Pohlman family, since the arrival from Germany in the late 1800s to Ohio, had in one way or another been involved in the industry. A tumbling economy in the 70s and 80s – when Allan was growing up – forced his father out of managing cattle, but he was still able to stay close to what he, and his lineage, knew. Allan’s father spent three plus decades of his life driving a truck for a grain distributor.
From the childhood in Ohio, Allan took a more varied path through the early stages of his career. He played football and studied marketing at the University of Findlay in Ohio. Allan credits the former as setting the tone for his life, teaching him the importance of discipline, resilience, and craftiness. Studying the latter came out of his interest in people. “If you put me in front of a computer to crunch numbers, I’d be a terrible employee,” Allan says. “I instead like working directly with people, understanding exactly what they need, and then delivering on that.”
Shortly after graduating from school, Allan joined Stryker, a medical device company. He would spend the next thirteen years of his career in that industry, as Allan held roles in product marketing, international business development, and sales. He trained surgeons on novel spinal implant devices and oversaw the development of products that could cool down someone’s body after he or she underwent cardiac arrest (to preserve brain function).
And yet, even as the first generation of his family to move away from agriculture, Allan was able to find his way back in. “I was comfortable in med device sales and product development,” Allan says. “I liked the industry. But I wanted to return home.” He noted that many farmers within the community he grew up and lived close to as a kid were experiencing the same hard times his own family had. Allan wanted to bring his attention to this area and work with a company that wouldn’t produce the same results as several decades earlier. This is when he came across Indigo.
“We are at the cutting edge of our field,” Allan says, elaborating on why he decided to take the job offer earlier this year. “The first ones to try new things and put innovative minds to making farmers not only profitabile, but sustainable. This work is in my blood.”
Today, as Allan drives his truck around Ohio to visit the IRP growers he works with, he finds himself reconnecting with many of the same people – Indigo partnered or not – that he had when riding around with his father all those years ago. As an adult, with a better understanding of the world and its mechanisms, the “orchestra” behind the movement of seeds into the ground, to the harvest, to the elevator and then to the consumer is becoming clearer to him. “From marketing to sale,” Allan says, “Indigo is trying to change the tune the industry has had to play by today. That’s what makes my job exciting.”
Want to make a difference close to home? IRP has remote openings across the world. See our openings in grower relations, technical support, and hub management here.