May 1 marked a special day for the Farm Press family: Our colleague, Glen Rutz, completed 40 years with our company — an all-time record — and we all offer our heartiest congratulations to him.
Just back from Army service in Vietnam, which followed his graduation from the University of Missouri-Columbia journalism school, Glen joined the company as associate editor for Delta Farm Press, which was then our only publication, having grown from a four-page insert in the local newspaper to a five-state weekly publication.
Glen came to Farm Press when it — and agriculture — were beginning a period of rapid growth and expansion, on the cusp of the transition to ag chemicals, bigger, more versatile equipment, and a host of products to improve efficiency and productivity.
There were scores of companies offering new herbicides and pesticides, and it seemed manufacturers were all trying to see who could produce the biggest, most powerful tractors and big disks and planters to go with them. Center pivot irrigation rigs were beginning to show up here and there, and rice and catfish were making inroads as new enterprises for Mid-South farmers.
Business was booming for agriculture and for Farm Press, and there were a lot of pages to fill each week — it was routine in those days to have 84, 96, 100-plus page issues as companies lined up to advertise their products to Mid-South farmers.
There was no printer in the area that could print that many tabloid-size pages in a single section, so the page paste-ups (long before the era of computer desktop publishing) were trucked to St. Louis in a moving van and the finished papers trucked back to Memphis for mailing to arrive in mailboxes each Friday.
“Timely, reliable information for Mid-South agriculture” was the paper’s motto, and Glen’s assignment was to produce stories about the region’s farmers, their accomplishments, and their unique interests and concerns as agriculture made a giant leap into the future.
In a bright yellow 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, he traveled every back road in the region, visiting with farmers and writing about their operations. He knew every barbeque joint and restaurant of note from the Missouri Bootheel to Louisiana Cajun country. He knew every place where farmers gathered and he’d join them for a cold one and find out what was going on.
He put more than 250,000 miles on the Beetle (there eventually were holes in the floorboard through which one could see the pavement rushing by), and years later gave it to his son, who drove it many thousands of miles more.
Even with all that traveling, Glen and his wife, Jane, a teacher, were active members of their community and St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (and he found time for golfing with friends).
After his son, Carson (now Dr. Carson Rutz, an endodontist at Jackson, Miss.), was born, Glen gave up life on the road and began a series of editorial management assignments for one or another of our growing roster of publications — since he joined the company, Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press, and California-Arizona Farm Press [now Western Farm Press] had been launched, and our four editions then covered 31 Sunbelt states from California to Maryland.
As Farm Press’ reach expanded, so did the scope of our publications’ editorial content, and Glen was a part of providing coverage on a national and international scale. He accompanied one of the first Mid-South agricultural groups to visit the People’s Republic of China, and provided insight about the country’s agriculture for our readers.
During his 40 years with the company, as the Farm Presses became the leading publications in their markets, he has seen the remarkable transition of American agriculture from a labor-intensive system to a technology system that is the most productive on the planet. And he has been part of an equally remarkable transition from labor-intensive, black and white publications to computerized full color publishing, and the instantaneous communication that came with the rise of the Internet.
He has, at one time or another, filled almost every editorial role in the company, and for the past 15 years has been managing editor of our Southeast Farm Press edition, as well as that publication’s website and daily e-newsletter, and handling new product information for all our publications.
In saluting Glen’s accomplishment, Farm Press Publisher and Penton Media Group Vice President Greg Frey, praised him as being “one of the best journalists in the industry, a proven professional who has mentored some of the best ag journalists in the business.
“You’ve seen many monumental changes during your career with Farm Press,” Frey said. “You’ve worked for some of the toughest, strangest, and most colorful bosses, and through it all, you’ve kept your sense of humor.
“In the 17 years I’ve known you, you’ve always been there for Farm Press and you’ve taught me a tremendous amount about southern agriculture.”
Forrest Laws, director of content for Farm Press and the other Penton Media agricultural publications, said, “Glen has been a constant source of great articles and photos, and publications/website management … and has approached every challenge with professionalism and good humor.
“He has always taken time to help a rookie editor, and to give good advice about writing and interviewing farmers. We congratulate him on reaching this milestone.”
As Glen now starts his 41st year with the company, all of us who’ve worked with him over the years, and appreciated his talents and rock solid dependability in whatever position he filled, say “thank you” for his part in helping to make the Farm Presses the leaders in the markets we serve.