Change In Good Times

I am writing this from Las Vegas and the AgGateway Annual Meeting and Conference, and recalling some of what Mike McCarty, president of Helena Chemical Co., talked about during his keynote address yesterday afternoon.

AgGateway, as I mentioned in my column last month, is a consortium of volunteers representing agriculture stakeholders who are working to create standards by which all ag companies can conduct commerce electronically. I’ve gotten involved in some of the committees myself both to learn more about its work, and to contribute whatever perspective I can to the cause.

McCarty was describing the early uncertainty and challenges that came with making the significant investment and commitment of time into building a platform for electronic commerce in advance of the Y2K scare. He talked about staying the course even when the actual cost of the investment blew by the original estimates, and the anxiety it created.

But understanding that an investment now would bring opportunities to serve growers better and be better partners with manufacturers in the future, the top-down commitment never wavered.

“Talk is easy,” he said. “We can sit in meetings and talk about what needs to be done, but we don’t really have that luxury. We need to make the investment and the commitment.”

On a much different scale, it got me to reflecting on our investment of time and resources on the new CropLife.com Website. If you haven’t gotten a chance to visit our site, I welcome you to take it for a spin and provide feedback.

When you go into a project like this, you know it’s going to present its challenges, but you also hope against hope that writing the initial check for the software and hardware and services you need is going to take you well down the road to success. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality.

The new site forced us to consider and reconsider everything about how we service you, the ag retailer, with information. To think about how what’s present on the Web affects what we put on the printed page, and what we share in our weekly enewsletters. We interviewed and surveyed the markets, tested and retested our ideas. You can’t write a check to get this kind of information — you just have to get your hands dirty and figure it out.

Technology is evolving quickly, and we all need to adapt to changing customer needs. I was talking to Jeremy Wilson of MyWay RTK during a break yesterday, and we were marveling at the number of iPads being used in the room vs. laptop computers. We estimated that it was 90-10 in favor of iPads. If the tablet is really the future, how should we be dealing with that trend?

It can be overwhelming, and in these high clover times in agriculture, it’s mighty tempting to just focus on the tasks at hand and keep moving forward. But I would argue that “high clover” times are precisely when you should be thinking about making changes to your business — if the market today hasn’t afforded you enough resources to start thinking about the longer term sustainability of your business, when will it?

As CHS President Carl Casale asserted in my interview with him this summer, making change in good times is extremely difficult. We’ll dive into this issue in January CropLife magazine.

Leave a Reply

Paul Schrimpf Stories
Paul SchrimpfWorking With Walmart
June 2, 2014
It's critical for agriculture to have seats at the table as the mega-retailer works out its definition of sustainability. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Protection Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Ali…
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
Eric SfiligojGMO Or DNA? LOL Or WTF?
January 19, 2015
A new survey finds the American public seems generally confused when it comes to any three-letter descriptor for their food. Read More
FertilizerAGROTAIN Wins No-Till Product Of The Year Again
January 19, 2015
This marks the 10th straight year AGROTAIN nitrogen stabilizer has been named the top product in this category; no other product has matched this honor Read More