Face Behind the Fertilizer: Marci Booth

Marci Booth wasn’t looking for a 30-year career in logistics, instead, it found her.
Posted on Monday, March 8, 2021

Marci Booth wasn’t looking for a 30-year career in logistics, instead, it found her.  

A marketing graduate of Pittsburg State University, Marci wanted to work for Koch in a sales or marketing role. She just had to find a way in. 

“This was back when we didn’t have email and the only way to submit your resume at Koch was to personally deliver it on Fridays,” Marci said. “Every Friday at lunch, I’d run home, put on my business suit and run out here to hand in my resume.” 

For eight months, Marci delivered her resume. Finally, one Friday, they had an entry level rail scheduling role and asked if she was interested. She decided to take the chance, believing she could prove herself and earn the opportunity to be considered for other roles. 

“As it turned out, I came to love the role, and the problem solving that came with managing the various modes of distribution, and I have been in logistics ever since,” Marci said.  

Marci said logistics is the firefighting side of the business. The roles are high-pressure and can be the first and last line of defense in winning a customer’s business. She found it very satisfying to solve the complexities that can pop up when trying to satisfy customer’s needs.  

Turning Point 
After holding various logistics roles in different Koch companies, she joined Koch Fertilizer (KF) and has been with the company ever since.  

“I was fortunate when I came over to KF, because it was a very small logistics organization” Marci said. “They were building a huge complex in Latin America and then very quickly thereafter invested in additional plants in Trinidad, so I was  thrown into the fire. All of a sudden, we needed an international capability. Prior to that, we had been completely based in North America.” 

Initially, KF hired another Koch company to run the international portion of the business, before deciding to build their own capability.  

“That was really a big turning point in my career,” Marci said. “I had to build an international team in Switzerland and Singapore while living in Wichita, Kansas. Then eventually Brazil, Australia and ultimately London. I learned so much about personnel matters and leadership.” 

She said she learned the most from her mistakes during that period and from her boss at the time, Jim Sorlie, now Koch Methanol senior vice president. She said Jim held her accountable and had tough conversations with her.   

“As hard as it was, I think ultimately, that made me the leader I am today,” Marci said. “I really just got thrown into it. I was at the right place at the right time. Sometimes you have to be standing in the middle of the street to get hit by the luck truck. They made a bet on me, and through learning, I was able to prove myself.” 

Pay it Forward 
Through the years, Marci served in a several logistics roles with KF across all modes of distribution. About six years ago, she was promoted to her current role of vice president of global distribution and has a team of 44 people. 

Talent development is one of Marci’s primary priorities today. Her team is a talent pipeline for other areas of the business and several members of her leadership team are early in their careers. 

“I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best leaders at Koch and they deserve credit for my personal and professional growth,” she said. “I am passionate about paying that forward and helping each person on our team achieve their professional goals. One of the things that keeps me up at night is ‘am I developing these people adequately enough?’”   

Her current leader — Scott McGinn, KF executive vice president — has helped Marci continue developing her leadership skills, particularly becoming a better communicator. She recognized her passion for her work sometimes caused her to be more reactionary when things didn’t go as expected, which influenced how she provided feedback. She sought Scott’s advice and asked him to coach her on how to most productively channel her emotions and manage her reactions. Not only has this made her a more effective communicator, but also improved credibility with her team by being more consistent and it has been key in helping individuals develop. Now, she recognizes when members of her team exhibit similar behavior and she can coach them through it.  

Marci’s goal with every employee is to provide rewarding work that is aligned with their comparative advantage. When her team is fulfilled, she feels more self-actualized. 

“When I see they are excited about something, it makes me doubly excited when I see them get a win,” Marci said. “Some of our recent wins — those wouldn’t have even been on our radar five years ago. So, the fact that they’re doing that today on their own and are excited about it gives me fulfillment.” 

Outside of work, Marci finds fulfillment spending time with her family and helping those less fortunate, particularly the homeless community. When she was a child, her parents always helped a family each year at Christmas and throughout the year. Her family usually adopted a couple families, went shopping, cooked together and then delivered the food and gifts personally. They also held parties a couple times each year for disadvantaged preschool children. They gave the kids gifts and spent time with them. It’s a tradition she continued with her family, and her children have carried on as well.  

This past winter, Marci started a new tradition with her team to distribute blessing bags to the homeless during the holiday season. She was amazed at the amount of participation from her team and others in KF. Every person on her team contributed by either collecting items and donations, building the bags or handing them out.  

“Everyone said it was one of the best things they have ever done, and they want to do it again,” Marci said. “That melted my heart.” 

Take the Risk 
Marci’s advice for others, especially women, is to “take the risk” and pursue a career you are passionate about. She said it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the background or if you’re the only woman in the room.  

“I’ve never considered it a hinderance,” Marci said. “It never really dawned on me to be intimidated by it. I don’t know how to instill that in other women, but they shouldn’t ever let that keep them from trying whatever they want to do, no matter what.”