Leadership is often defined as the ability to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Leadership coupled with passion and enthusiasm creates change. Chuck Kaye, a veteran GMS Evaluator in California embodies the meaning of leadership and waves the ’GMS flag’ with enthusiasm and passion. So, it is with great pride that ABS and GMS announce Chuck’s recent milestone achievement in coding his one millionth cow.
We had a chance to talk with Chuck about his accomplishment. Chuck provides valuable insight on how GMS relates to sales, as it supports genetic knowledge through collaboration and education.
How did you begin working for ABS and then with GMS?
I grew up knowing about ABS. I am a 4th generation dairyman. My grandparents moved to California from Switzerland, where they milked an elite herd of high producing Jersey cows. My working relationship with ABS began in 1984 as an independent sales representa-tive, where I created a solid and steady business. I began working with the GMS program in 1987 out of necessity. The part-time GMS evaluator in our area at the time was looking to get out of coding cows. So, I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to expand business in our area. Being a former DHI board member and having been on both the customer and sales representative side of things; working in a role as GMS Evaluator was a perfect fit for me.
What would you primarily attribute the growth of GMS to in your sales area?
Early on, I realized that GMS needed greater promotion. There was a void in communicating the GMS message to the field. The goal of filling this void and getting more sales representatives comfortable using and talking about the GMS program became the primary focus. In my first year working with GMS, our sales area ran 8,000 cows through the GMS program. By the fifth year, there were 25,000 cows mated with GMS and up to 50,000 cows three years after that. Early on, one of our goals was to mate as many cows per year as miles driven. [ To put this into perspective, 1 million cows would be like circling the world over 40 times!*] This growth is directly correlated with education about the GMS program. Education is the key. Sales representatives should be talking to customers about GMS and relating what elements are important to their customers. Education creates a foundation of trust and confidence between customers and ABS.
Over the years, there certainly have been some challenges. What challenges have particularly stood out to you and how did you work to overcome those challenges?
The most prominent challenge has been the ability to promote the value of genetics to customers, because the actual value of genetics is usually far greater than the customer will ever believe. Genetics are the most powerful tool that a dairy-man can have. Genetics are a long term plan, and they never quit working. Through good times and bad, the genetics in a herd are always at work, even though there may be changes in feeding, weather, management, etc. One of the greatest rewards over the years is seeing customers actually conceive the value of genetics. Once cus-tomers understand how much of a player genetics are in their operation’s future, they will put more thought into their bull choices.
Why do you think that GMS is the premier genetic man-agement program in the industry?
No other stud can compare with the depth of infor-mation that GMS utilizes within its matings. Competitors look at part of the cow, whereas GMS looks at the whole cow. The flexibility of GMS is another key attribute that has allowed the program to grow. The growth of GMS is not slowing down in any time soon, and actually I am looking forward to accelerated growth as new tools in data collection become more available to ABS staff and to customers. Increased information available through greater data will link genetics to profitability more seam-lessly and makes a genetic improvement program more feasible in more operations.
Where do you see the GMS program heading in the coming years?
Well, we have certainly come a long way since I began working with GMS. Everything used to be done by hand and on paper. Then, they had to be mated by hand – with a two-week turnaround time. Now, with email and the handheld (codee), I get herds back the next day, and sometimes the same day that I send them in. The GMS department has always been ready and willing for chang-es to occur. As far as the future goes, it is clear that GMS is becoming an increasingly valuable tool for ABS to use to show the value of genetics. The genetic audits are proof of that and I think that this is just the beginning of some very exciting times for GMS and ABS to secure long-term relationships with new customers and solidify relationships with existing customers.
What advice would you give younger GMS Evaluators or Sales Representatives?
If you can get up every morning and enjoy what you are doing, then you will last a long time. Go out and do your best work every day and challenge yourself to learn as much about your product and customers as possible. It took me 5 years to learn GMS, but it takes patience. Once you fully understand how the GMS program works, it can be a powerful tool to enhance the representative/customer relationship. Also, I would challenge younger evaluators to become more involved in the sales process. I have heard many evaluators say that they became an evaluator because they didn’t want to do sales; but I feel that this is not to best approach. You have to be able to sell the program (to both sales representatives and customers), so the element of sales is always there.
Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share regarding your years working with GMS?
I think that it is always important to recognize the people that I have worked with over the years, both in the office and on the ground. The quality of people in GMS is why GMS has done as well as it has, and I am thankful for being able to work with such great people. I have a motto that I like to live by, which is, “I like to have fun with the people I work with”. One person can never know everything, so it is very important knowing that there is a team of people that I have to fall back on when needed.
The Dairy Performance Programs Department and Genetic Management team would like to once again thank Chuck for his contributions over the years. We realize that the life of a GMS evaluator can be daunting at times, but rest assured knowing that there are leaders like Chuck Kaye out there passionately representing our program with enthusiasm.