Ray Grabanski, J.D.
President, Lead Market Analyst, Entreprenuer, Attorney
Ray has roots that run deep in agriculture. Ray developed his passion for agriculture growing up on a small grain and livestock farm near Inkster, ND. Balancing working on the farm and college education through his 25th birthday, Ray worked with his brothers Russell and George (who together managed the farm) to triple their acreage while he graduated magna cum laude from North Dakota State University, getting his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Agricultural Economics. Ray, as part of his M.S. Education, worked as a legislative intern at the 1989–1990 session of the North Dakota Legislature writing bill amendments and bill summaries for the House Ag and State and Federal Government committees, where he developed his passion for the law.
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Chris Vaux started his crop insurance career at FMH in 2003. While there, Chris worked in data processing and grew to assisting in Underwriting and was the leading systems trainer. He also began to adjust crop insurance claims for both MPCI and Crop hail. In 2007, he took a position with John Deere as claims analyst. He also adjusted crop claims on the west coast and was the specialty crop reviewer.
In 2010, he accepted a position with ProAg, an AIP, first working in sales and then moving into the claims training department before taking a sales position for the state of Minnesota. Chris traveled the Red River Valley and crossed over into North Dakota.
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Consulting Agency Manager
Roger Torgerson serves as a consultant and agent for Progressive Ag’s crop insurance agency, and he is a stockholder of Progressive Ag Systems. Roger graduated in 1975 from NDSU in physical education, and he has been intensely involved in the crop insurance industry since 1976. Roger served as a crop hail adjuster and a licensed agent since 1978. Roger has 38 years of experience as an agent, agency owner, and company rep. Roger has been known to always put the farmer first. He joined Progressive Ag in 2001 as its first agency manager and sales agent. He and his wife, Barbara, have 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
Administrative Manager of Marketing & Insurance
Joan joined Progressive Ag in 2016 as the lead trainer for marketing and marketing promotions and to oversee the crop insurance underwriting. She brings experience from the economic development, sales, and marketing worlds. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University. She also has deep roots in the agricultural community as she grew up on a cattle and grain farm in rural southeast North Dakota. Joan has managed and overseen multiple non-profit corporations securing more than $500,000 in grants and donations during the last 3 years. Joan is a stockholder in Progressive Ag Systems.
Joan is married with two children, one in middle school and one in college. She enjoys traveling and playing golf with her family.
Laurel Gess is employed as an underwriter for Progressive Ag Systems. Her career includes 12 years in accounting and 17 years in brokerage and underwriting. Laurel is an entrepreneur at heart as she owned multiple businesses and performed all aspects of business from sales to accounting. She also performed all back office functions for various brokerage firms. Her expertise positions her perfectly for Progressive Ag. She is excited to be back working with the fast paced dynamics of the crop insurance industry. She developed a great admiration for the agricultural community as a result of countless hours spent on her grandparents’ farm. She has strong roots in the Northwood, ND and Dawson, ND communities. She is from and currently living in Fargo, ND.
Laurel has two children, both attending college.
Claire Sauerman joins Progressive Ag as an underwriter. Claire is originally from Eau Claire, WI, and she moved to the area in 2013 to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead. She is studying actuarial science – mathematics and minoring in finance, and she will graduate in the summer of 2016. In her free time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and biking. Claire likes to stay active, and she has competed in multiple triathlons. She was on the competitive swim team for MSUM from 2013–2015.
Underwriter, Marketing Representative
Shelby Grabanski joined Progressive Ag in 2013 as a marketing representative. In 2015, she jumped into the crop insurance area by becoming an underwriter. Having spent the last three years working for Progressive Ag, Shelby has become very familiar with the marketing and insurance sides of the company through representing them at trade shows and underwriting. Shelby is a licensed crop insurance agent. In addition to working at Progressive Ag, Shelby attends NDSU where she is studying Agricultural Economics. By attending a week-long, intensive program in Washington, D.C., Shelby has built on the agricultural experiences she has gained through her family and her involvement in FFA in high school.
Shelby Bartholomay serves double duty as an underwriter for Progressive Ag Systems and a legal secretary for Progressive Ag Law. Shelby “B”, as she is affectionately referred to, grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Erie, ND. Growing up in an agricultural environment, Shelby has always loved every aspect of agriculture. Before graduating high school, she spent time training horses, working on the farm, and working in the family-owned greenhouse. After graduation, she went to college at North Dakota State College of Science. She was active in Post-Secondary Ag Students and went on to earn her Crop Production, Sales, and Service degree. Shelby continues to help on the family farm in hopes to run it someday.
Cindy Vought serves as an underwriter for Progressive Ag Systems. Cindy has worked in various organizational roles throughout her career. Most recently, she worked as International Student Program Coordinator for Oak Grove High School being responsible for all functions of interviewing, accepting, and enrolling international students. She also worked for her family farm operation performing all record keeping functions for the entire operation. Cindy grew up on a grain and cattle farm operation near Kindred ND and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Zoology from NDSU. Cindy is married to Mike, and they have three children, Colleen, 19, Elizabeth, 19, and Matthew, 15 and lives in Moorhead, MN.
Melanie joined the Progressive Ag team in Spring of 2016. She originally came from California but as a teenager decided a quieter life in Fargo was what she needed. She spent several summers at her family’s farm in Rosholt SD. She attended MSUM and quickly learned her skills as a customer service representative. Melanie was employed as a supervisor for US Bank in the fraud department for 14 years sharpening her customer relations skills. She also worked in sales and customer service for Microsoft where she became proficient at various computer software programs. Her attention to detail and organizational skills are a great fit here as well as her database management experience.
In her spare time, she enjoys backpacking, skating and playing around in her backyard garden.