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

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 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
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