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Looking Past The Numbers: Inside The Research Department

Blogging Before Blogging Was Cool

Published on Monday, November 25, 2013

When you work at a company for nearly 20 years, you gain lots of stories. From humorous to heartfelt, many of the stories I’ve gained are actually learning experiences. My name is Doug Clouser and I’m the product lead at Beck’s Hybrids. I’ve been a part of the research team since 1996. 

I’ll admit this first blog has me a little nervous. I can speak and write for days on product information, product placement, or even technologies. This whole idea of entertaining or educating in a blog format is a bit outside my comfort level.

In an effort to write my first blog, I tried to recount a few times in my career that had me a little nervous or unsure of what I was doing, and then try to remember how I worked through those situations. Many times in my career when those unsure moments came about, I utilized my resources. I’ve been extremely blessed to have had many resources throughout my career.

Just think, when I was an intern in the 90s my first supervisor was Scott Beck. I’m sure Scott could tell many funny stories from those days, but since I’m trying to be a credible writer, we won’t ask him to share any of those. My second and current supervisor is Dr. Kevin Cavanaugh the director of research. Kevin has been a great mentor and source of information for me during my career. (Once again, we will not need to go to Kevin for any quotes for this article.)

The mentor that inspired this particular blog is another truly special person here at Beck’s by the name of Kyle Smith. Many will know who Kyle is, but several may not. He was our long time research director as well as a member of the sales team. 


Growing up in Lee County, Virginia, Kyle lived some of the most colorful stories anyone could think of. From walking a blindfolded pony over the swinging bridge (just ask one of our salesmen, Jim Love, who can attest the walk is even treacherous without a blindfolded pony), to the flights back home to Pennington Gap with a college classmate that were sometimes icy and foggy, but always dangerous. 


                                                                 Swinging Bridge

Fish Story
When Kyle came to Beck’s in the late 70s he brought a wealth of knowledge as well as a loyal customer “fan” base with him. Up until a few years ago, Kyle’s fans were seen standing in line for hours at Becknology™ Days. They would wait to go on the 300 bushel attempt tour and to learn about raising pumpkins, drilled corn, and anything else Kyle could think up to try in a Practical Farm Research (PFR)® study.

Those people not only lined up to here about Kyle’s studies, they also wanted to hear about Kyle’s most recent fishing trip. Kyle is a lifelong fisherman, and part of any talk Kyle gave generally got around to discussing fishing.

Many of my greatest times with Kyle were on the road traveling together as part of the winter meeting team. Winter meetings were the perfect venue for Kyle to share some of his “Fish Stories” because he could show pictures too. 


One thing we discussed many times while on the road was the articles Kyle wrote for the local Oak Hill Times newspaper. You see, Kyle was a blogger long before the Internet had even been invented. His column “Farm News” was well known for telling an interesting story about farming, his travels to different areas, or his interactions with farmers. And he always summarized his talk with an inspirational thought from the Bible. Kyle was ahead of his time – “blogging” about interesting stories and wrapping them up with some sort of conclusion that relates to farming.

Kyle was a mentor then and as I start a new journey into the blogging world, he’s my mentor now. So stay with me as I give you a behind the scenes tour of the research department.

Whether we’re discussing a new high tech piece of equipment or a technology that will further our product lineup, the people involved will bring some of the most interesting portions to the story.

Just like my mentors through the years helped me find inspiration for my first ever blog, the people that I come into contact with on a daily basis are truly what makes our research department special.

Without the personal interactions that I have on a daily basis, research would just be a numbers game. A numbers game that is full of computer programs, hypothesis, statistics and probabilities. This numbers         game is an important part of my job, but what makes our research department special is the people.


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2 comments on article "Looking Past The Numbers: Inside The Research Department"

Chad Mertens

11/26/2013 3:57 PM

And you are a mentor as well! Thanks Doug!

Bryan Ebelhar

11/26/2013 9:28 PM

Great job Doug! Looking forward to your next one!

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