Josh Sonnabend

Feature Story
Josh Sonnabend
Degree: 
Agricultural Business
Year Graduated: 
2014

Hometown: Vernon Center, MN

Current employment/job title: Flint Hills Resources, Shell Rock, IA, Merchandiser

Describe your position with FHR: Manage the co-products (primarily dried distillers grains) sales and merchandising for our Fairbank and Shell Rock ethanol plants, while facilitating relationships with end users of our co-products in order achieve the best long term results for the business. Assist with corn origination into both plants, which use approximately 42 million bushels of corn at each plant per year.

What do you like about your job?: Merchandising our distillers grains out of each plant is an extremely fast paced and analytically driven environment. I spend a large amount of my time either on the phone with customers or analyzing market conditions to develop and execute a point of view on the market. Every day is a challenge and brings something different to the table. 

How did you choose to work at this job?: During my time in the Ag Business program I realized my interest in commodity markets through classes that I had taken and through various internships, which led me to pursue merchandising as a career. I chose to work at Flint Hills because it is an extremely innovative company that continues to grow in the industry. Flint Hills has allowed me to take on responsibility from day 1 and the company puts a large emphasis on my training to develop as both an employee and a merchandiser.

How did the Ag Business major prepare you for your position?: Having a strong economic background has been key in this position. The ability to analyze a market's fundamentals and its economics is a large driver of success in merchandising. 

What advice would you give to students looking for work in a similar position?: I would encourage students to involve themselves in as many merchandising related internships/job shadows as possible. No 2 merchandising positions are the same, so exposing yourself to multiple opportunities can give a good base knowledge to build on. 

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