Tough To Say Goodbye
It’s sometimes really tough to say goodbye.
That would likely sum up Janelle Swanson’s feelings as she is retiring from the Britton office of Hurley & Associates after 20 years of service.
Swanson was the very first employee of the office that began in the year 2000 and now has grown to include three consultants and a marketing assistant.
In recognition of her years of service a retirement open house will be held at the Hurley & Associates office at 754 Main Street (Main Street Center) from 1-4 p.m. on Friday. Coffee and cookies will be served.
The mission statement of Hurley & Associates is “to help our clients realize economic stability while maintaining the dignity and value of the farm family.” Swanson would be the first to admit that fulfilling that mission wasn’t always easy. But it was a job she came to love because of the people, the challenges, and the things she learned about life along the way.
“My biggest challenge was the stress I felt because my farmers were depending on me... but I think that if this job isn’t stressful you don’t care enough.”
Although she grew up on a farm outside of Britton, graduating in 1978, Swanson’s first job after marrying fellow Britton native Kirk Swanson was being a dental assistant in Wyoming. But Kirk had always planned on farming, and the couple moved back to Britton in 1983.
After raising her children, Swanson started working for what is now Full Circle Ag in 1998, and about a year later the local co-op became affiliated with Hurley & Associates. CEO Dave Andresen asked Swanson if she would like to apply for the job.
“I didn’t really want to, but I thought since my boss asked me I should,” recalled Swanson. “I became the first and only associate for a company that nobody had really heard of.”
She was also a pioneer of sorts, being a woman in what many considered a man’s business 20 years ago. But she counted that as an advantage.
“I think men are more comfortable telling a woman they need help,” said Swanson. “They don’t want to tell another guy that they are not good at something.”
Evidently others agree since all the current employees at Britton’s office are women, including Swanson’s sister, Lana.
“I really wish Dad could have been alive to see Lana and I doing this,” laughed Swanson. “He would never have been a customer, but he would have loved it.”
Swanson admitted that she had a lot to learn 20 years ago.
“I was a good test-taker, but when I first got started I told my manager that I truly didn’t know what I was doing. He said, ‘That’s okay. Just fake it until you’re more comfortable.’ So I did . . . and it worked. Since it was my hometown I knew a lot of people, and I knew if you put customers first and do that well, it would come back to you. I’m just proud that I got to be associated with Hurley and my farmers for so many years.
“I think the most rewarding thing was helping the farmers,” said Swanson. “We can help remove some of their stress because they have to wear too many hats. You just can’t farm like your grandpa did if you want to stay in business.”
The nature of the beast was that some of that stress transferred over to Swanson, but she would not have it any other way.
“My biggest challenge was the stress I felt because my farmers were depending on me,” noted Swanson. “I did become better at compartmentalizing things, but I think that if this job isn’t stressful you don’t care enough. The most important thing is to always be honest and straightforward.”
That’s one of the reasons she decided to retire after 20 years – she was honest and straightforward with herself.
“We’ve had some hard times with Kirk’s illness and our dog kennel business is busier than we ever expected. My farmers have taught me resilience during hardship and how to keep on going, and I was starting to lose ground. My reason for retiring is to take care of Kirk and the kennel for the good of my customers and Kirk. I was just spread too thin. We’ll also be able to spend a little more time with the kids.
“I’m saying goodbye to a very important part of my life,” concluded Swanson. “This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but I know it is the right one. And I will forever remember some of my favorite people in the world – my farmers and my Hurley family.”