Spring Offers Opportunity For Ag Retailers

Well, it’s almost dead in the middle of February as I sit here on my couch at home, typing away on my laptop. My wife the freelance writer is cranking away on an assignment in the next room, the daughter’s at work and my son is fast asleep. And on the eve of the March issue print deadline, I’m sitting here in utter exhaustion.

This has easily been four of the most exhausting consecutive issues of the magazine we’ve pulled together, starting with the CropLife 100 in December and finishing with the FrontLine 5 issue you’re holding now. Eric Sfiligoj, Matt Hopkins, frequent contributor Lisa Heacox and I really poured everything we had into what we like to call the “Winter Series,” the most read issues of CropLife magazine each year.

We hope that there was at least one nugget of wisdom that we or one of our expert contributors shared that you found of interest or utility. No media company invests the kind of time, talent and energy to covering the distribution channel that we do, and will continue to do so for years to come.

I had asked a friend in the industry recently to tell me what he thought of our January issue, when we strongly encouraged retailers to take a longer view of the business and think about innovations that would better ensure the long term sustainability of their companies. We thought of a lot of different ways to present it, but we opted to put out a strong visual statement on the cover and warning that the good times could end at any moment. Be ready!

My friend said that while it hit the nail on the head, it perhaps came across as raining on the industry’s parade, and that suggesting dramatic change when times are good might have pushed the discussion past the comfort zone.

“Dramatic change in good times is seen as a real risk for most managers,” he noted. “Their peers are taking advantage of the good times to build what they believe is momentum and a war chest of resources.”

He concluded that if he had one suggestion for the issue, he would have considered changing the focus slightly from “The End is Near” and “Won’t Last Forever” to the positive of “Future Opportunity” generated as the result of changes designed/developed/implemented in the good times. 

“No one wants to hear that the good times are about to end, especially when the prior year was much better than any expected and 2012 has every indication of being equal to or better than 2011.” he asserted.

Looking back on it, I think he has a point. It’s human nature to push back when your perception is that someone wants you to act when there’s no immediately apparent need.

On the other hand, this is an industry we’ve all come to care deeply about. Between the four of us who do the lion’s share of the content generation for this brand, we’re approaching a half century’s worth of work and experience. We see many threats to your business out there despite the positive economic outlook, but they are threats that can be turned into opportunities to build long term sustainability for your operation.

Spring is almost upon us and you’ll soon be running full out to serve those growers. Get ‘er done, but always keep the long look in your sights.

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