Elmer Jenkins switches to new ag inventory as Agri-Power manager
By Jim Turner

Posted on August 13, 2015 10:51 PM

Elmer Jenkins had a good management position he liked, leading people he considered friends, and working for a company that he respected and was happy to represent.

And he gave it all up.

Now he has what he believes to be an even better job with a company that he not only respects greatly but with which his family has done business for many years.

Elmer Jenkins is the new manager of H&R Agri-Power’s Russellville division. It’s the latest position he’s held in a line of agriculture-related businesses. It’s the first, however, that deals with farm equipment rather than the chemicals those high-powered machines apply to the land.

For nearly two decades, Jenkins has been in management with Miles Farm Supply, Jimmy Sanders Inc. and Providence Agriculture. With those companies he sold fertilizer, seed, insecticides, herbicides and related products while managing others who worked for the Russellville branches of those companies.

He grew up on a family farm in the Allensville area. His dad, also named Elmer, still farms, as does his brother Gary. Elmer still farms on a limited basis himself. His mother, Elaine Cherry Jenkins, recently retired after many years of serving as Logan County Treasurer.

A 1988 graduate of Logan County High School, he drew the attention of the student body—not because he sought it—as the namesake of an “Elmer Feels Good” movement that was used by Coach Barry Reed to build enthusiasm and school spirit for the boys basketball Cougars. His close friend, Steven Lyne, had coined the phrase. Now Lyne is the highly successful head coach of the Lady Cougars volleyball team.

And Elmer still feels good about his work and his family.

After graduation, Jenkins farmed for three years before enrolling at Austin Peay State University. In 1995 he graduated from APSU with a degree in ag business. Shortly after marrying Kelly McGehee, he entered the Tennessee Co-op’s Management Training Program, working with the cooperative’s stores in Robertson, Cheatham and Montgomery counties.

The combination of his natural talents, his farming background, his college agriculture education, and his time in the management training program has paid off.

In 1998, he began working for Miles Farm Supply in Russellville on the Morgantown Road as assistant manager under Joe Dorris. When Dorris retired, Jenkins became manager and stayed in that role until Crop Production Services bought much of the Miles Farm Supply business in 2010.

At the end of 2011, he left CPS to work in sales for the Sanders fertilizer/chemicals operation on the Hopkinsville Road. When former Sanders manager Roger Toon became regional manager in early 2013, Jenkins moved into the Russellville manager’s position. Many of his former co-workers with Miles also work there. The Sanders name has now given way to Providence Ag.

In the four years of leadership by Toon and Jenkins, the operation’s business doubled, Jenkins says, adding, “All of us took great pride in what we did there.”

Elmer Jenkins wasn’t looking for a new job. He was happy with what he was doing. And then came a surprise visit from an old friend and classmate.

Lee Blythe has been the H&R Agri-Power Russellville manager, and the store’s volume has grown dramatically with him at the helm. In fact, H&R’s physical presence has also expanded considerably through major remodeling and expansion that is still underway.

“This has been a great place to work,” Blythe said on his last day with the company July 31. “I feel very close to the people who were my bosses and to the people who worked with me here. When I had a kidney transplant, H&R told me to take as long as I needed to get well.”

Blythe, who does feel well now, decided to return to his family’s business, Federal Grove Bed & Breakfast in Auburn. He’s talking some of the management load off his mom, Terri Blythe, expanding his maple syrup production, and getting to spend more time with his wife Jill and their two almost-grown children.

When Blythe decided he was going to leave H&R Agri-Power, he started thinking about who would be the right person to continue the growth of the business ethically. Elmer Jenkins was the right answer, he concluded.

At first, Jenkins was reluctant to make the change. The more he thought about it, however, the more interested he became. After a few weeks, he decided he was not only interested but willing to make the change. And those who make the major decisions at H&R Agri-Power decided Elmer Jenkins was the man for the job.

“They couldn’t have found a better person for the job,” Lee Blythe says. “He has the knowledge, skills and character to lead this operation.”

H&R Agri-Power is a Hopkinsville-based corporation which has grown to 14 locations in five states. Wayne Hunt, one of the founders, is president of the corporation and Steve Hunt vice president. The Morgan family is also deeply involved in the operation. Ross Morgan is in Whole Goods Management and Jeff Morgan in Sales Management.

Jeff Morgan was at the Russellville location on Blythe’s last day. He was high in his praise of Elmer Jenkins as the right successor for a highly successful manager.

Jenkins has a lot to learn as he begins a career of equipment sales and service, he acknowledges. Russellville’s H&R Agri-Power lists 21 different brand names on its website, include Case, Kubota, Kinze, Kuhn, Vermeer and Yetter.

He also is leading some 30 employees, but he’s working with an experienced crew, including Assistant Manager Nick Payne. The Parts department, which will benefit from much greater space for inventory in the expansion, is manned by four men—Tim Hancock, Matt Hancock, Travis Stewart and Travis Borders—who are descendants of people who have been in this line of work for many years. One of the most experienced equipment men in the company, Eddie Borders, is one of the appraisers. Jon Beene is the manager of the service department, which is almost as big as the entire operation was before remodeling began.

Elmer and Kelly Jenkins have two sons, sophomore Matthew and sixth grader Ethan. Kelly teaches middle school special education at Chandlers School. They are all active members of Crittenden Drive Church of Christ where he is a deacon.

“I’m happy for this opportunity,” Elmer Jenkins says. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and excited to be on board.”


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