By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” said Mark Twain. Yes, we all feel the impact of the weather. Today we’ll meet an innovative private meteorologist who is providing weather-related services to rural Kansas.
Chris Sramek is owner and meteorologist at Decision Weather in Atwood, Kansas. Chris grew up on the family farm near Atwood. He was studying computer science at Fort Hays State when he visited Boulder, Colorado. While there he visited the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and one might say he was “blown away” by what he saw there. The cutting edge technology and weather analysis was very impressive.
“I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Chris said. On the same trip, he took a personality test which suggested that he was not cut out to be a computer programmer. So Chris decided to make a change and transferred to the University of Nebraska where he graduated in Meteorology.
He took a position with a private meteorology firm in Kansas City and worked there seven years, but he really wanted to get back closer to the farm and family in Rawlins County. In spring 2001, Chris made the move back to Atwood where he established his own meteorology firm called Decision Weather and got involved with his hometown.
“The folks in Kansas City told me, `You’re the first radio-TV weather personality that we’ve had that’s gone the other way,’” Chris said. “Most of them are coming from small towns and trying to move into larger markets.” After all, Atwood is a community of 1,258 people. Now, that’s rural.
But Chris could see how the technology was changing to enable electronic communication, and he wanted to use the technology to benefit agriculture. He set up Decision Weather to provide personalized weather forecasts and weather consulting to individuals and all types of businesses, such as agriculture, construction, radio, transportation, public works and roads, education, aviation, recreation, and public utilities.
For the first two years, Chris operated from an office in his home. Then he rented space downtown, and in 2006 Decision Weather purchased the building where they operate today. Decision Weather utilizes a fully staffed state-of-the-art weather lab equipped with a broadcast studio, high-speed Internet, and multiple PC weather stations. He’s done weather reports for communities from Salina to Fort Morgan, Colorado, but now focuses on his core region.
Chris does the weather forecast on the radio stations in Colby and Goodland and provides private weather consulting services for his various clients. At first, most of his clients were businesses like construction companies and golf courses, but the ag side of his business has grown so much that farmers make up most of his clients today.
For example, his clients might receive a daily email or text with the weather report. Then when they get into a busy farming or construction season, they might consult with Chris about weather conditions – such as if they are preparing to pour concrete or spray a field.
The name “Decision Weather” is fitting, because his weather reports and analyses help his clients decide on how to plan their outdoor work. If a farmer needs to spray for weeds or pests, for example, Decision Weather provides key information on wind speed and direction so as to make sure that nearby fields are not affected.
“I’m not necessarily just delivering the weather anymore,” Chris said. “My job is more consulting with people and helping them interpret what they see.”
For more information, go to Decision Weather.
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Yes, weather affects all of us, but this entrepreneurial Kansan has found a way to build a business of serving agriculture and consulting on the weather. We commend Chris Sramek for making a difference by bringing his expertise back to rural Kansas. His work can help rural Kansas weather the proverbial storm.
And there’s more. Remember that Chris got involved when he moved back to his hometown? He ended up leading an initiative which is transforming his community. We’ll learn about that in next week’s Kansas Profile.
The mission of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is to enhance rural development by helping rural people help themselves. The Kansas Profile radio series and columns are produced with assistance from the K-State Research and Extension Department of Communications News Unit. A photo of Ron Wilson is available. Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are also available. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development.