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We Are Ag Leader: Dawn Harris, Buyer, Purchasing Department

by Jun 11, 2024Ag Leader, Blog, Featured

At Ag Leader, we value quality. Guided by our four core values – Excellence, Approachability, Ready-Willing-Doing, and the Courage to do What is Right, each of our departments strive to produce products they are proud to stand behind, never compromising on quality. Because we operate in a culture of continuous improvement, our product failure rate is less than 1.5%. While we are proud of that achievement, it also drives us to improve that number each day.

That commitment to quality also extends to the people we hire. As a part of the Ag Leader family, our employees value ethics, relationships, trust, and integrity while thriving in an atmosphere that is not only innovative and welcoming but encourages ideas and creativity.

Meet Dawn Harris

A member of the Ag Leader team for 12 years, Dawn Harris has been in a variety of roles that have given her lots of opportunities to get to know many of her co-workers. Today, she serves as a buyer for the company’s Purchasing Department and knows quality is more than just about a finished product. It’s also about all the processes, systems, and people behind that product.

“When I started at Ag Leader, I hadn’t planned on making it a career, but I’ve stayed because I love the company and the people,” Dawn says. “I love being a part of a family-owned company and seeing each person take ownership in making our products and services beneficial to our customers.”

AL: Tell us about where you grew up.

DH: I grew up on a farm in central Iowa with row crops and livestock. I was involved in 4-H, farm work (e.g., walking beans, picking up rocks, baling hay) and livestock. We had a little bit of everything on our farm, but chickens and sheep were my favorites.

Since my dad’s passing, my brother and his family have managed our family farm.

Looking back, I don’t think my dad, who was an avid “scribble on the back of an envelope” type, could have ever imagined the technology we have today. Ag Leader products make planning and working on the farm more manageable.

AL: How do you ensure quality each day in your role?

DH: Purchasing works very closely with our production team. We have collective goals and metrics around quality, on-time delivery, and turnaround time, etc. to help ensure customer satisfaction. Every morning someone from our team goes on our Gemba walk where we review each department’s performance from the previous day, note details to pay attention to for that day’s production plan, and discuss anything we need to anticipate for the upcoming days. From there, the purchasing team will review upcoming part needs and make any needed adjustments with suppliers to ensure customer orders are shipped on time. Anything that may cause order delays are escalated and communicated within the company, and we will have internal discussions around how fast we can get orders out to our customers and what alternative options may exist. There is a lot of planning and orchestration of both parts and people, and I like that I am part of a team dedicated to making it happen.

Pictured seated: Gary and Dawn Harris. Back row L to R: Their son Eli, son-in-law Logan holding granddaughter Piper, daughter Tabitha, daughter Moriah, daughter-in-law Steph, and son Gabe. Not pictured is granddaughter Stella, the latest addition to the family.

AL: In your time at Ag Leader, can you share an achievement or experience you are most proud of and why?

DH: I think my biggest accomplishment in purchasing has been taking on the ordering of load cells. It involves managing parts that are made in three different facilities. I place orders and keep track of how parts are moving along in the process. It has taken several months to organize and accurately sync our demand to the production schedules of each supplier involved. Start-to-finish, the load cell process takes over six months.

AL: If there was one thing you want farmers to know about Ag Leader and the products we create, what would it be?

DH: While much of our focus is on our end customers, purchasing also manages the relationships we have with our suppliers. We work to make sure the parts we buy meet our standards and are ordered and delivered on time. We take the time to visit our suppliers, review their facilities, and confirm their manufacturing processes will provide us with quality parts. We measure and give scorecards to our suppliers based on quality, responsiveness, on-time delivery, and more. I spend my time putting together forecasts, so our suppliers can anticipate our demand and plan accordingly. Some parts are custom made and have long lead times, so planning ahead is critical to having the parts when we need them. We have some fantastic suppliers who have been our partners for many years and understand our business. Placing purchase orders is the easy part when you are working with a good supplier!

AL: What do you like to do in your free time?

DH: In my free time, I spend time with my family, work on house projects, raise backyard chickens, and am involved in our church. My mom has lived with us since my dad passed away as well. I love cooking, gardening, painting old furniture, and reading stories to my granddaughters.


In the We Are Ag Leader series, we will introduce you to a wide array of people who work at Ag Leader. Our founder, Al Myers, created Ag Leader in 1992 with one mission in mind: To provide a workplace that challenges and motivates individuals to create and deliver innovative products. 

Ultimately, addressing the wants and needs of farmers is our number one priority. We exist to enhance the lives of farmers around the world by developing proven precision farming technology that exceeds farmers’ expectations.


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