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The future begins with helping owners succeed

CHS President and CEO Jay Debertin answers questions about CHS plans for fiscal 2018 and beyond. 

Q: How are you positioning CHS for future success? 
A: We are using our experiences to help us identify what's really important. We firmly believe our efforts will lead to greater strength for CHS and will lay a foundation for growth. These are our three overriding priorities for fiscal 2018:

Strengthen relationships.
You can expect us to listen and to be candid and transparent. We won't always agree, but that's okay. A healthy debate is good and results in better decisions, a stronger CHS and a stronger cooperative system.

Sharpen operational excellence.
We're making progress on our commitment to manage credit consistently and more effectively across CHS, helping to drive visibility of overall risk exposure and enabling stronger risk management. 

Restore financial flexibility.
While CHS remains financially strong, we continue to analyze the results of the portfolio review and are committed to taking the steps necessary across our businesses to strengthen CHS, restore financial flexibility and ensure a strong future of growth for you, our owners. 

Your CHS management team is working together to identify and close gaps, build strong processes, and shape a sound long-term strategy for growth. We believe this is the best path forward to deliver value for our owners and I am glad to say significant progress has already been made.

Q: How are you strengthening relationships with owners? 
A: It starts with listening, really listening to what owners have to say and what they need from CHS. We must have that input and honest feedback if we are to see the full picture and plan appropriately. And throughout our system, we need to be open, candid and transparent with each other. Only by communicating well and working together can we be successful as individuals, as local cooperatives and as a system.

Q: What is CHS doing to restore financial flexibility while maintaining a strong balance sheet?
A: CHS has long had a strong balance sheet. That is still true. But in the economic environment we have been in for nearly four years and with the financial setbacks in fiscal 2017, we needed to make tough assessments and hard decisions. We are reviewing all CHS assets to determining which are providing value and which truly match our long-term strategic vision. Some divestitures have already occurred where asset value or performance did not meet our expectations or the fit wasn't right. In the first quarter of fiscal 2018, CHS reduced long-term debt by selling certain assets that no longer fit our portfolio. We will continue that process in fiscal 2018. At the same time, we have committed to making only capital expenditures that directly improve safety and support compliance initiatives. These efforts are aimed at improving value and reducing long-term debt. 

Q: What can we expect from CHS moving forward? 
A: You can expect us to listen, to ask for and appreciate your business, to hold ourselves to high standards for operational excellence, and to maintain a keen focus on what's core to our success: helping our owners grow. When you succeed, CHS succeeds. It's as simple as that. 

 As we focus on our core businesses to help American farmers and cooperatives grow, that means connecting U.S. growers with global markets, both for fertilizer supply and to market grain. That strategy will continue to help us make our assets work harder and bring more opportunities for our owners and the entire cooperative system. 

Have a question or feedback for the CHS management team? Get in touch with us at feedback@chsinc.com.

Check out the full C Magazine with this article and more.