The Beck Ag Team

Our diverse team of ag professionals is located throughout the U.S., but we all have one thing in common: we want to improve the business results of our ag clients and their customers. Our goal is to be a powerful extension of your team, and we can do this because we understand the ag marketplace and we’re deeply passionate about its success. Meet our team of ag professionals:

John Finegan

Founder and Chairman of the Board

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Stephanie Liska

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Richard Bettison


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John has more than 30 years of Ag-related sales, marketing, technical and management experience cultivated at Chevron Chemical Company, Valent U.S.A. and for over 20 years now, Beck Ag. John partnered with Charlie Beck in 1996 to form Beck Ag and provide agriculture professionals the opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other and gain access to industry and subject matter experts.

John graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture. He has also completed the University of Chicago’s Marketing Management Curriculum and Northwestern University’s Kellogg Management Institute. His trade association involvement includes a term as President of the Delaware No-Till Council, Vice President Delmarva Ag Chem Association, as well as memberships in the National AgriMarketing Assoc., The Word of Mouth Marketing Association, the American Seed Trade Association, the American Marketing Association and various commodity trade associations.

John has served on the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Board and was the recipient of the NAMA’s “Ag Communicator of the Year” award for the year 2000 and “Dilworth Award for Innovation” in 2002.

He is past President of the Sacramento Chapter of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) and remains an active member in this global organization of entrepreneurial business owners.

John serves on the Board of Directors of Capital Public Radio, the YMCA of Superior California and is a Founding Partner of Social Venture Partners of Sacramento.  He sits on the Board of STAND UP and is an Advisory Board member of Sustainable Conservation.  John also was a founder of the San Juan Education Foundation and remains on the organization’s board.

He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Positive Coaching Alliance which is dedicated to “transforming youth sports so sports can transform youth” and has coached youth baseball and soccer for over 15 years.

Stephanie graduated from Iowa State University with a Degree in Public Service and Administration in Agriculture. She came to Beck Ag with a family farm background and more than 20 years of successful experience in sales and sales management experience with American Cyanamid. Just prior to joining Beck Ag, she worked with Agri Business Group consulting with various organizations improving their organizational learning strategies.

Stephanie is instrumental in providing the actions required to support Beck Ag’s long-term vision while at the same time keeping the organization’s short-term focus on delivering the best value for Beck Ag’s clients and their customers. To achieve the delivery of this exceptional value, she also focuses on the selection and development of Beck Ag’s highly motivated team of professionals. Stephanie describes her passion and her mission in this area as developing people towards exceptional performance.

Stephanie is proud of the Beck Ag team which is a culmination of talent, passion and diversity. She says, “This synergy of talents combined with the unique Beck Ag services, enables us to approach each customer’s requirements from a unique perspective and deliver a customized solution that will impact business results.”

C-level executive with 30 years of experience leading businesses up to $500 million in revenue. Experienced in working with the leading manufacturing and distribution companies in both the agriculture and animal health industries, as well as private equity sponsored businesses seeking to transform growth and build value. Worked with three different global and national private equity firms to successfully build strong, growing, recurring revenue businesses that considered all stakeholder interests.

Leveraging a lifetime of agricultural industry experience, I have identified market opportunities and created competitive advantages that led to sustained and profitable growth. I have a passion for utilizing data/information to drive business analysis, as well as building analytical tools and technology solutions to address critical business problems.

Jay Kelley


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Keith Nicholson


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Vince Richmond

Vice President
Go-To-Market Solutions

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Jay Kelley’s entire career to date has been in the agriculture industry, helping organizations identify and pursue opportunities that drive internal and external growth.

Before joining Beck Ag, Jay was with Agri Business Group (ABG) / Adayana Agribusiness Group. In his more than 7 years with the organization, Jay lead business development activities with clients to develop strategies and tactics that enabled their organizations to learn, grow and make decisions, and also facilitated a variety of discussions for clients, including strategy development, marketing planning, sales training and account management.

Since joining Beck Ag, Jay’s main focus is helping clients solve problems. “I enjoy helping clients design a strategy for how to overcome a challenge or solve a problem, but I love the fact that our team can then implement that strategy for the client and measure the positive impact of putting the plan in action.” Jay graduated from the University of Illinois, majoring in Agribusiness Markets and Management with an International Marketing minor.

He and his wife reside in Iowa with their two girls, and enjoy their opportunities to be part of their family farming operations in Illinois and Nebraska.

Keith brings to Beck Ag experience from the ag retail sector and has a broad background in production agriculture from the South and the Midwest. His positions have included responsibilities for sales and marketing of crop protection products, seed and various services. His educational background includes a degree in Agronomy from Purdue University.

Keith’s primary role is identifying opportunities for Beck Ag clients to realize the full value and benefit from word-of-mouth marketing. He also leads the Beck Ag team with a strong market research background. Over the years, Keith has consulted with hundreds of growers, dealers, and other ag professionals. His experience ranges from ag suppliers in New York to apple growers in Washington (and most places in between).

Regarding his career with Beck Ag, Keith says, “I enjoy working with an organization like Beck Ag, who is bringing new life and value to the marketing concept. When clients and prospects started calling me asking how they could use a Beck Ag program, I know we were adding value to their business.”

Vince Richmond has 20 years of diverse agricultural marketplace experience. Before joining Beck Ag, he was the North American Marketing Manager for FMC Corporation. Prior to that he held management positions in sales, marketing, account management and business development with American Cyanamid, United Agri Products (UAP) and Micro Flo Company. His educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University and executive coursework at the Wharton School of Business and Purdue University.

Vince’s focus is on building relationships with agricultural industry clients and integrating word-of-mouth marketing as a fundamental ingredient in their overall marketing mix. He assists clients in their efforts to harness the power of word-of-mouth by designing and implementing effective word-of-mouth marketing and sales strategies.

Vince derives significant pleasure and satisfaction from consistently delivering high-value to Beck Ag clients. “Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful, targeted and measurable approach that progressive companies can utilize to accelerate product adoption, improve retention and strengthen relationships with their customers and channel partners,” says Vince. “Beck Ag is an exciting and innovative company that is focused on using the voice of customers and engaging the community in unique ways to advance agriculture.”

Vernon Benes

Vice President
Go-To-Market Solutions

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Hugh Whaley


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Vernon has been with Beck Ag for more than 12 years and involved in the industry for more than 30. He has been successful in sales and marketing management positions for Northrup King Co., Sandoz Crop Protection, BASF, DEKALB and Monsanto before joining Beck Ag. During the time he was with DEKALB Genetics Corp., he was responsible for the launch of Roundup Ready® Corn for the U.S.

Vernon’s family farm background and deep understanding of the seed, row crop and chemical industry are valuable assets to Beck Ag and our clients. Vernon is responsible for developing effective Peer Experience word-of-mouth marketing strategies that meet our sponsoring clients objectives and provide value for those who participate in Beck Ag programs.

“Whether apple growers, soybean farmers, golf course superintendents or veterinarians, participants in Beck Ag’s educational programs learn through sharing experiences with their peers,” says Vernon. “This experience enables them to move from awareness of a product or technology to adoption and increased usage.”

Vernon graduated from University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education. He is an active member of NAMA, ASTA, Knights of Columbus, TeamMates and Youth Sports Leader.

Hugh is a member of Beck Ag’s Board of Directors. Hugh’s vast experience and expertise make him an integral advisor in helping us achieve our company’s mission.  Hugh has spent the vast majority of his nearly 45-year professional career working for and with U.S. farmer-led and governmental organizations including overseeing producer communications programs for the American Soybean Association, the United Soybean Board, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the National Pork Board, the American Lamb Board, and the USDA Rural Development mission area.  He served as the inaugural general manager for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, and was most recently the director of industry relations and communications for the National Association of Wheat Growers.

In addition to employees, Beck Ag also partners with contractors from across the country on an as-needed basis. We’re proud to have strong relationships with more than 60 contract ag specialists who add incredible value to our team and to our clients. We have a long history of seeking the best talent in the industry as we build teams to execute go-to-market strategies, and many of contractors have worked with us for more than a decade.