Featured image: Ragen Darrington at the National Potato Fly-In in Washington DC
Known worldwide as a pioneer in multiple crop storage solutions, Nampa, ID-based Industrial Ventilation, Inc. (IVI) supplies its global customer base with customized climate design for potatoes, onions and other vegetable and berry crops.
Now heading up the worldwide sales team is Ragen Darrington, a 10-year veteran of IVI who started his company career as a chemical applicator/installer and moved into sales, eventually taking on the position of Sales Manager with the retirement of Mike Machurek in January.
The company’s 50-plus years of partnering with growers and processors for “optimal control and outcome” has resulted in custom designs that take into account “all parameters, from crop condition, local climate, and storage goals.” IVI’s vast network of sales and service support in 22 countries assure close attention to projects that range from a single 100-ton storage to two dozen storages with capacity for 100,000 tons.
OnionBusiness caught up with Ragen recently, and he provided us with a great snapshot of his background and a comprehensive look at IVI – as well as an insightful take on issues farmers face today.
“I have been with IVI just over 10 years,” he told us this week. “I started out as a chemical applicator and installer to quickly learn the business. After 1 year, I took on a larger chemical roll and moved into sales, primarily working with fresh potato packing sheds in Southeastern Idaho and Montana. I am now Sales Manager and oversee all the sales operations for IVI globally.”
A native of Idaho, Ragen comes from a solid ag background. “I was born and raised on a family farm in Declo,” he told us. “My family raises potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, corn, and alfalfa throughout the Mini-Cassia area. I attended Idaho State University, where I majored in marketing and business finance.”
Ragen added, “Growing up on a family farm and being involved with ag my entire life, I hope that customers can see that I’m passionate about the ag industry and love working with farmers and want to help them be successful.”
He stayed closely connected to his land stewardship heritage in another interesting way. “I worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a range land firefighter coming out of high school and all the way through college,” he said. “Not long after I finished studying at Idaho State, I was introduced to my predecessor Mike Machurek and IVI by a family friend and potato grower, and the rest is history. I’ve really enjoyed working for IVI and the opportunities they have given me to grow as a person and employee, while remaining in the ag industry.
We asked Ragen what skills he brings to the position – obviously his sales background at IVI itself is key – and what goals he might have in his newest role. He told us, “Honestly, IVI has a long-standing tradition of success and has done so by acquiring many diversified people who have a vision of maintaining that success moving forward. IVI has an awesome sales team that I enjoy working with every day. They care about our customers, they believe in the products we sell, and they are motivated to be the best.”
And he added, “My goal, for the short term, is to not rock the boat too much and keep IVI on an upward trajectory. I hope to provide a clear vision of the sales team’s goals, providing direction when needed, and being there to support when our salesmen need it. IVI has a bright future ahead of it, and I’m excited to be a part.”
Well-versed in every crop IVI addresses in its storage solutions, Ragen speaks “Onionese” fluently, and he told us IVI’s technology is second to none.
“IVI is a global pioneer when it comes to successfully storing onions,” he said. “Our storage controls are state of the art, and at the forefront of technology. Our in-house engineers and IT specialists for years have worked diligently with local growers to listen to needs and combine that with the latest technology to develop our state-of-the-art control panels.”
He went on to say, “The ‘Imperium’ control panel has become the most coveted control panel on the market. It has an onion-specific program that is easy to use, maintains precise storage conditions and can be monitored from anywhere in the world with our mobile application – and the storage program can be customized and adapted to specific growing areas around the world. Some of the most recent international areas we have customized storage controls for are Spain, Portugal, Senegal, and Angola.”
Ragen also told us, “PAA (peroxyacetic acid) is another staple in the IVI storage program. It is not rocket science that an onion has to properly cure in order to store successfully for a period of time. However, it is research and science that has dictated the methods for which we go about getting onions cured. PAA is just one of the steps IVI recommends to safely and successfully cure your onions because it’s a desiccant, and it helps eliminate bacterial pathogens that threaten the health of your onions. It’s a useful tool that fits in the curing process, and when applied early has seen tremendous success in maintaining onion health and quality.”
Ragen’s own product and service knowledge is expansive, but he’s quick to credit others at IVI as well.
“I can’t go without mentioning our awesome service team scattered throughout the globe, and the impact they have on our success,” he said. “Our dedicated service staffers are amazing to work with and have taken pride in being available 24/7 365 days out of the year. These trained service techs put in long hours and deserve recognition.”
We asked Ragen what he sees ahead for farmers and how IVI is responding to changes.
“There is a lot of volatility in the world today, and the American farmer is taking the brunt of it,” he answered. “All while farmers are being asked to continue producing more on less available farm ground [while facing] record high input costs, labor shortages, stricter food producing regulations, etc.
“I think the most important thing for IVI to do in these unprecedented times is to be a consummate professional in every aspect of post-harvest storage. We want to be an unwavering resource that they can look to for guidance and help in maintaining the best quality of onion throughout its storage life.”
Ragen Darrington concluded, “Farmers have a lot of things to worry about throughout the growing season. So, if we can do our part and have all the resources for growers to make educated decisions during storage, all while helping them to become more self-sufficient, eco-friendly and sustainable, then I think we are doing our jobs.”
Visit Industrial Ventilation Inc.’s great website at https://ivi-air.com/ for more information.