SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, U.S. — After 50-plus years in the grain handling industry, with the last 14 spent at SCAFCO Grains Systems, Larry Prager is retiring at the end of December.
Prager is currently senior adviser with SCAFCO Grain Systems but his career has included jobs with Butler, Pascoe/York, GSI and MFS Global.
It was the people he met during the last five decades that kept Prager in the industry.
“I just found them really committed to something that they believed in, that’s agriculture in general,” he said in an interview with World Grain.
While that commitment stayed the same, Prager experienced many other changes in the grain industry. When he started with Butler in 1968, he had to convince customers, particularly those overseas, that a metal structure would work to store grain.
“The corn feed for livestock was the first segment to readily accept what I had for sale,” Prager said. “Wheat grain people were the hardest to convince and really the last to get it was paddy rice.”
Prager was born Nov. 24, 1941, in San Francisco, California, U.S., and grew up in the Bay Area. He received a degree in agricultural business from Cal Poly and a graduate degree in international business management at Thunderbird in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Prior to joining Butler in 1968, he served two years as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army with service in the Dominican Republic and briefly worked at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City.
During his 14 years with Butler, Prager worked as a special assistant to the vice-president working on mergers and acquisitions, domestic sales territory manager in Ohio, and training manager, market research manager, and international sales manager in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
He was international sales manager for Pascoe/York from 1982-87 and moved to GSI in 1987, where he stayed until 1999. During that time, he developed international markets for grain storage and handling, plastic fencing, poultry rearing equipment and confinement hog rearing equipment.
From 1999 to 2004 he developed the international dealer network and recruited international sales staff for MFS Global.
Prager joined SCAFCO in 2004 and helped lead the company into new geographic markets in sales. He produced a monthly customer newsletter and led the company’s role in the U.S. Grains Council. He said a source of pride is having led the initiative that resulted in a major donation of SCAFCO equipment to the Kansas State University’s teaching feed mill and International Grains Program.
His career took him to more than 60 countries where he established distribution of grain storage and handling equipment from India and Pakistan to Iran, Denmark, Japan and Argentina.
“Over the course of my travels, I have met country presidents and ambassadors, as well as many people with whom I was able to communicate on one manner or another even though we did not speak the same language,” Prager said.
In his retirement, Prager plans to travel and use up some of the frequent flyer miles he accumulated on business trips. He’s also digitizing and identifying a lifetime of photographs that include Kodachrome transparencies, black and white prints, and color prints.