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Agribusiness led by CEO’s vision

Andersons president tells Rotary his desire to leave legacy

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    Mike Anderson, CEO of The Andersons, talks about the company’s history during a Rotary Club of Toledo meeting Monday at the Park Inn in Toledo. The company has 3,200 employees.

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    Dick Anderson

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Dick Anderson

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When he became president of the company in 1996, Mike Anderson of The Andersons Inc. had no time to think about a legacy. He was busy figuring out how best to run the multibillion-dollar Maumee-based agribusiness.

b3anderson

Mike Anderson, CEO of The Andersons, talks about the company’s history during a Rotary Club of Toledo meeting Monday at the Park Inn in Toledo. The company has 3,200 employees.

THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY
Enlarge | Buy This Image

But recently Mr. Anderson, 63, who is now also CEO and chairman, was asked if he had ideas about what he wanted people in the future to remember about him when his time is over.

“When I was asked what I thought about my legacy, I can tell you I wasn’t ready for the question,” the CEO told Rotary Club of Toledo members Monday at the Park Inn by Radisson Hotel downtown.

Mr. Anderson told the Rotary Club about his company’s history and its growth over the years.

The CEO said after thinking about what legacy he would like to leave, he first realized what he didn’t want: “If someone was going to eulogize me, I sure wouldn’t want them to say, ‘Well, he sure got the stock price higher.’ That would not be very fulfilling.”

The CEO said he was raised to “leave something a damn sight better than you found it.” Previous Andersons leaders did exactly that, Mr. Anderson said.

“You hope you have a team that’s better than ever. You hope you can look back after several years and say, ‘My gosh, not only is it performing well relevant to the business it does, but it’s better in how the business is running,’ ” he said.

Fortunately, The Andersons is on the way to a bigger and brighter future, Mr. Anderson said.

The company, which was formed in 1947 as a truck terminal, has grown into a $5.6 billion publicly traded company with 3,200 employees scattered over 19 states and sporting six diverse divisions. Its stock price hovers over $50 a share and since going public in 1996 the company has had two stock splits.

But more importantly, Mr. Anderson said, the company has never relinquished the values and principles it was founded upon.

There’s still “the focus on serving the customer,” he said, and that goes across all six divisions: grain, plant nutrient, rail car, turf & specialty, ethanol, and retail.

The plant nutrients division, for example, started in the 1980s and has 20 facilities and makes 2.1 million tons of nutrients annually.

“We have the ability to deliver big quantities exactly when the farmer needs them,” Mr. Anderson said. “But we also have the reputation that we do what we say we’ll do.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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