In the 1970s, Ida Hurley worked in a single-person office in Charleston, Missouri, keeping the financial books for a number of farmers in the area. Over time, she noticed that they were harvest-and-sell producers and one day she asked why they did not sell ahead of delivery. One of her clients said, “Well, Ida, if you’re so smart, why don’t you do it?” So, she began educating herself about the markets and learning about basis. Her business grew and, in 1988, Hurley & Associates, Inc., the commodity brokerage arm, and Hurley & Associates Agri-Marketing Centers of Charleston, Inc., the consulting arm, were formed.
Some of those same farmers and families still work with the flagship office in Charleston, Missouri. Today, however, the company works in over thirteen different states and has eighty associates providing crop marketing and risk management services.
“Sure, we provide great service to our clients,” Ida says. “But the key has always been loyalty between us and them, and that has been a two-way street.”
“We’ve made it our mission to help farmers manage all aspects of their operations—production, finances, and marketing—as efficiently as possible. We take that approach for two reasons: first, to best serve our clients, and second, to help preserve their very distinctive agricultural lifestyle.” Hurley consultants are very active on a regular basis with their clients.
Ida, who served as President of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants in 1999, is now retired and no longer involved with the day-to-day activities of the company. Her husband, Dennis, still works as CFO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Sons, Trent and David serve as CEO and President, respectively. All serve from the company’s headquarters in Charleston.
While both sons have college degrees, “Our real education was growing up around the business at the kitchen table,” explains David Hurley. “We were always included as members in the business and that has helped us to understand and live our mission.”
That detail to personalization has kept the company growing. “Most of our clients come to us by word-of-mouth,” Trent Hurley says, proudly. “And, we retain roughly ninety percent of our clients, year in and year out. A great deal of our success comes from the fact that we take the time to get to know our clients as people as well as farmers. It’s not always the easiest approach,” he laughs, “But it’s the best.”
“Our client is not always the biggest guy, nor necessarily the smallest,” Trent continues. “They are the producers who understand that they have a commodity risk and want to do something about it. We choose to help those who recognize risk and offer services for everyone, large or small.”
That philosophy holds true in the selection of the consultants who are associated with the company. “We seek out people who have a genuine desire to help farmers, who want to be part of agriculture, and who want to help others succeed. Can they do the critical thinking that it takes to help producers? After all, they are an extension of the Hurley family,” Trent adds.
The single-person office of the ‘70s has been replaced but the philosophy that was developed there remains steadfast with our mission to serve agriculture.