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Indiana Agriculture Loses Great Business Leader

Lee Rulon of Beck's Hybrids passed away last week.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

November 14, 2010

2 Min Read

Whether you've ever planted a grain of Beck's Hybrids Seeds or not, you may have heard of Lee Rulon. He was long-time sales manager for the company, and most recently was involved in training and business affairs. If you haven't heard of him, he was behind the scenes, working for all farmers, not just customers, on such projects as the Indiana Grain Indemnity Board.

Rulon, 64, succumbed to a chronic lung condition on Nov. 10. He was known both by co-workers, associates and customers as the man with the big smile and positive attitudes, who also treated people honestly and fairly. It's been the hallmark of Beck's Hybrids for the company since it was founded by Sonny Beck's father, Francis, in the 1930's.

Rulon, born in Hamilton County, joined Beck's in 1972, when it was a very small family company selling seed. He's partially responsible for the company's position today as the largest family-owned seed company in the U.S.

Those who knew him realized Lee was a smart businessman, willing to try new things if there appeared to be a payoff for the company at the end of the process. He was one of the people who helped Beck's become involved with farm Progress Show years ago, and even helped direct the company to continue its association with the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill., when Farm Progress went to semi-permanent sites in 2004.

He was also a driving force behind the creation of Becknology Days, a three-day extravaganza that draws nearly 7,000 people to the plant near Atlanta each year. The surprising thing is that by using giveaways and various inducements, Beck's has turned that three-day event into an excellent time to sell seed even though few if any farmers have actually been in the field yet to see how their current crop will perform. It's a system other companies have emulated, but no one has yet succeeded in reaching the level of success Beck's reaches with that three-day celebration for customers.

Besides being involved with Beck's Hybrids and active in a wide variety of community affairs, Rulon was part of the family farming operation near Arcadia. His brother, Jerry, and his sons, plus nephew Rodney, do the day-to-day operations in the family farm business. Rodney's father, Doyle, died of a heart attack many years ago.

Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Farm Progress family of magazines expresses sincere condolences to Lee Rulon's family, and to his co-workers at Beck's Hybrids.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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