Finding passion in plant management

Published: Mar 20, 2023

Dani Rigg grew up on a farm and both her parents worked in agriculture, but her journey to becoming the Plant Manager for the Loveland Products plant in Greeley, Colorado was far from a straight line.

In the early 1990s, Dani’s mom had to close the family hog farm and her father, who also worked in agriculture, left the industry.

“Seeing my parents’ experiences with agriculture left a bad taste in my mouth about the industry when I went to college. At the time, I swore I didn’t want to be part of ag from the effect it had on my parents,” says Dani.

Dani graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in natural science and biological sciences, along with a teaching license for secondary education. However, after spending some time as a high school teacher, Dani realized that the classroom wasn’t a perfect fit for her.

After reaching out to one of her professors at CSU for advice, Dani decided to give ag another chance – but from a new angle – and went back to school and earned her master's degree in agricultural management, primarily focused on range management and running a farm or business.

Work with a purpose

Dani’s first job after completing her graduate degree was with an ag retail co-op in Yuma, Colorado, where she would occasionally work on projects blending fertilizers for Crop Protection Services (CPS), one of Nutrien’s legacy companies.

She liked what she saw in CPS, so when they approached her about building a new branch in 2011, Dani knew exactly where she wanted to apply. She was hired to work on the construction of a new CPS location and liquid fertilizer plant in Yuma, and later moved to Greeley to lead construction for a new liquid fertilizer location.

“I am happy to be in agriculture,” says Dani. “Food security is very important, and this is a very noble and sustainable business to be part of. I feel like I have a purpose when I come to work every day.”

In 2015, Dani made another move in her career and gained two new titles. The first title change came when she joined the Safety, Health, and Environment team (SHE) to support the Northern High Plains and Southern High Plains divisions. The second title she earned that year was mom.

“Being a working mom is challenging in general. Trying to balance as best as you can to be present for your child, but not lose the identity that you’ve created for yourself and the career you’ve built, is a struggle,” says Dani. “My son has really been one of my driving factors. The changes that I have made in the organization have been to make sure I’m there to support him. When I come to work, I can focus 100 percent on work and when I get home, that is 100 percent my son’s time.”

After three years supporting the Northern High Plains and Southern High Plains, Dani moved to support safety for manufacturing, working alongside Scott Oran, Senior Director of Global Proprietary Manufacturing, to deploy an innovative safety sensor program at the Greeley plant she now manages.

Finding the perfect fit

When Dani heard of a plant manager position at the Loveland Products plant in Greeley, she knew the role would be her niche and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. She applied, and was hired as the plant manager in June 2022.

Since taking on the new role, she’s spent her time getting to know the employees and daily life at the plant – learning the technical side while using her business and soft skills to advance and provide upskilling for her employees.

“I’m very passionate about people. I love seeing the value of individuals and how they contribute towards a team’s success. At our plant, I’m surrounded by great people. It makes me love coming to work every day,” says Dani. “I want to focus on the employees that work here and make sure that this is a place that they want to be at and help them grow while making our manufacturing plant the best it can be.”

The plant manufactures adjuvants – additives that change the physical products of liquid crop input products, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, to enhance their performance. Some adjuvants change viscosity, for example, or help reduce drift, splashing or run-off.

“Find out what you’re passionate about”

As the agriculture industry continues to grow and more young professionals explore careers in the field, Dani shares the wisdom that she has accumulated from her various experiences throughout the past few years of carving her career path.

“It’s important to find what you’re passionate about and seek out those opportunities to develop your skills and own your development. Finding mentors to support you and help you be the most successful version of yourself is also important,” says Dani. “I've had a lot of people throughout my time here at Nutrien that have challenged me and pushed me to get to the next level and not just accept the status quo.”

One such leader is Paul Kraus, Director of Proprietary Manufacturing for Loveland Products and Actagro, who has plenty of good things to say about Dani.

“I had the unique opportunity of working with Dani for several years, as a safety professional, prior to her current role. She consistently demonstrated a genuine care and concern for the workers at the various facilities and the conditions which they worked in,” says Paul. “This care and concern for individuals is one of the things that makes her a great leader. She isn’t satisfied with things as they’ve always been, and continually looks for ways to improve herself, the work environment and business practices.”