Precision Laboratories: An Obsessive Compulsion

Precision Laboratories Founder Jim Wohlner, left, and his son, Richard.
Precision Laboratories Founder Jim Wohlner, left, and his son, Richard.

Back in 1962, Precision Laboratories was founded as a private label distributor of maintenance chemicals. From this humble beginning, the company has grown into a key player in the agriculture and turf & ornamentals markets, offering such items as adjuvants, seed enhancements and foliar nutrition.

How has the company managed to accomplish this in its 50-year history? According to Richard Wohlner, president, there’s no secret to Precision Laboratories’ success. “The key is we’re obsessed,” says Wohlner. “For 50 years, we’ve been obsessed with all aspects of our business. We’re obsessed with making sure the customer gets their needs met. We’re obsessed with positioning products that solve problems. We’re obsessed with service levels that ‘wow’ our customers. We’re obsessed with creating an excellent employment experience for our people. That’s what has kept us in business these past 50 years.”

In many ways, he adds, this obsessive nature was inherited from his father, Jim, the company founder. For more than 30 years, Wohlner learned how to pay attention to all the little details of Precision Laboratories’ business. “Eventually, with this training, I thought I would be ready to step up and take the company to the next level,” says Wohlner. “So in January 1995, I bought the business from my dad.”

An Early Crisis

At that time, he says, a majority of Precision Laboratories’ business was producing additives for the then-up-and-coming herbicide glyphosate, which the manufacturer Monsanto Co. marketed under the tradename Roundup. “But in October 1995, Mon­santo announced its intention to make Roundup Ultra and Pro with its own additives,” says Wohlner. “So we lost approximately 60% of our business within the next 12 months.”

Faced with this loss, Wohlner quickly began looking for new products and business areas for Precision Laboratories to shift its resources. Within a few years, the company had a half-dozens new products to its brand family. This included Transport, a water conditioner, Border, a liquid activator adjuvant containing drift control, surfactant and ammonium sulfate, and Cascade, a soil surfactant for intensely managed turf.

With these and many other products in its portfolio, Precision Labora­tories was not only able to survive through the 1990s, but thrive, says Wohlner. “So once the 2000s arrived, we became obsessed with finding new opportunities and problems to solve for our customers,” he says.

For example, in 2007, Precision Laboratories went back to help the product that provided the majority of its business in the early 1990s, Roundup, with Simplyx. “We formulated an adjuvant that allows unhappy mixtures to work well together, such as glyphosate and clethodim,” says Wohlner. “One of these is a very water-loving chemistry while the other is a very oil-loving chemistry. But by using Simplyx, customers can gets these products to work together and it allows them to maximize control of volunteer corn in Roundup-resistant soybean fields.”

More recently, Precision Laboratories has focused its product attention on the problem of spray drift. In 2012, the company introduced Border AQ, a surfactant and drift retardant concentrate. “We are advancing our polymer technology to control drift and maintain the spray droplet on the plant,” says Wohlner. Another new drift control agent is Avianis DC, which is targeted at the aerial application marketplace.

In addition to these brands, Precision Laboratories has also dived into the high-tech market. In 2011, the company debuted Mix Tank for iPhone and Android. This app allows users to track tank mixes and prevent mixing problems from occurring.

Company Moves

Besides obsessing over new product launches, Precision Laboratories has also spent the past few years upgrading its overall business as well. For example, in 2010, the company opened a new facility in Chicago, IL, to manufacture its Wuxal foliar fertilizer. And in honor of its 50-year anniversary, Precision Laboratories unveiled a new corporate logo at a gala celebration this past summer.

“Our old logo had a very retro look to it, but it didn’t really reflect where we are today as a company,” says Wohlner. “The new logo shows a p-shaped leaf pointing upwards. This helps symbolize our company’s commitment to our products and people, but pointing towards the sky reflects our commitment to growth.”

Further down the line, Wohlner says Precision Laboratories remains obsessed with solving current industry problems with new products. Already in the pipeline is a seed-applied nutrition for corn, soybeans, cotton and cereals and products to help with water management.

But despite these changes, Wohlner says one thing will remain constant at Precision Laboratories — an obsession to stay true to its founder’s vision. “In terms of a legacy for the company, I thank my father, Jim, for creating a business that’s lasted for 50 years,” he says. “At the 50th anniversary celebration, I told him ‘your imprint is strong, to take care of customers and anybody connected with our company. As long as I’m here, that will never change.’”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Precision Laboratories: An Obsessive Compulsion

  1. I have had the privilege of working with the people at Precision for many years, and can say without reservation that Mr. Wohlner absolutely sincere in everything he says. From top to bottom this is an organization of blue chip people – super smart and down to earth. They really do care.

Adjuvants Stories

AdjuvantsAdjuvants 2014: Who Needs Good Crop Prices?
March 3, 2014
Apparently not the adjuvants market as new herbicide technologies and other influences have manufacturers ramping up production in anticipation of another splendid season for adjuvant adoption. Read More
AdjuvantsNew Adjuvants Report Forecasts A Growing Market
November 1, 2013
The global agriculture adjuvant market valued at around $2 million in 2012 is expected to to reach nearly $3 million by 2018. Read More
AdjuvantsAdjuvants: Activating Yields
March 1, 2013
Manufacturers are ramping up production of specialty adjuvants as the tank mix takes center stage in the weed resistance fight. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More