2013 Ag Retailer Outlook: The Boom Effect

With at least two successive years of what may well be the largest agricultural gold rush in centuries immediately behind us and heading into what is touted to be an excellent 2013, those companies fortunate enough to still be involved in agricultural retailing are likely to fall into one of two categories:

  1. Those who understand agriculture is a volatile industry and the recent market conditions are largely responsible for their remarkable performance. They also realize sometime down the road (likely not 2013, by the sound of things) historically documented downturns will ultimately return.
  2. Those who have a four-year memory in a business noted for five-year cycles and conclude that their recent company performance is somehow based on their remarkable personal talent. These companies also believe subsequent years will simply be a re-run of 2012.

Which category respective companies fall into is largely a function of leadership capabilities and principles. 

Category A companies understand and live by the adage “fix your roof while the sun is shining.” They relentlessly work toward positioning their companies to not only understand and meet the changing needs of the grower of today, but also to be a production partner when times change. To quote the late Jack Simplot, “I love the tough times. It drives out the suckers who shouldn’t be in this game in the first place.” That quote makes as much sense now as it did away back then.

Category B companies are simply less disciplined, the result generally of inferior leadership and management skills. These entities are prone to allow greed, complacency and arrogance (or that perception among stakeholders) to sneak into their culture. They lose sight of the fact that customers have choices and that, according to Purdue surveys, the larger growers become the more they see most retailers the same. Funny, but price-chasing retailers do have a way of all looking the same.

So, what do I see as 2013 plays out? Simply put, a widening of the existing performance gap between category A and B retailers.

As the best companies pro-actively and systematically engage innovation and technology in a value-creating way to improve constantly, they continue to position themselves to be the supplier of choice for the grower of tomorrow. They know his needs. They help him plan.

At the same time, poorly run companies either rest on their recent laurels or, at best, try to get better at the things they do now (some of which border on obsolete), which, according to business guru Peter Drucker, is the proven recipe for failure. They are order takers, at best.

It is impossible to explain how any company is better without explaining how it is different. You can be different from the rest of the pack without being better, but you cannot be better without being different. Positive competitive differentiation always has been the brand of the best-run retail operations, and always will be. It is the gap-widening device used by the best.

As 2012 vanishes into the sunset, my hat is off to those top-tier retailers who, in spite of market swings, constantly out-perform industry standards. 2013 promises to be very kind to you.

Leave a Reply

State of the Industry Stories
State of the IndustryAgriculture’s Troubled Waters
March 3, 2014
Water quantity and quality issues threaten to hamper agriculture on a wider scale in the not-too-distant future. Technology breakthroughs and improved practices are providing potential solutions. Read More
State of the IndustrySponsor Profiles: Simplot, SST And WinField Support CropLife State Of The Industry Report
January 8, 2014
The sponsor partners of the CropLife State of the Industry report have demonstrated ongoing leadership including their support of this report. Read More
State of the Industry2014 State Of The Industry: Agricultural Concerns Creep In
January 2, 2014
With many strong sales years under its belt, the agricultural community is hoping for another positive growth experience in 2014, but mindful of a few challenges that might keep this from happening. Read More
State of the IndustrySeed Systems Top Watch List
January 2, 2014
Retailers are closely following herbicide tolerance and drought resistance traits. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
ManagementKey Takeaways From Commodity Classic Event
March 6, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj debrief on their experience at the 20th annual Commodity Classic conference and tradeshow last Read More
Training
SoftwareFulfilling A Training Need
March 6, 2015
Tri Ag and CSE Software hope to introduce a new hands-on simulator for custom applicator tudoring. Read More
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
Industry NewsArysta Hires New Midwest Territory Sales Manager
March 5, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently named Jonathan “Jon” Tone as the Territory Sales Manager in the Midwest sales region. Read More
Fertilizer360 Yield Center: Try These 5 Steps To Fine Tune Nitrog…
March 5, 2015
Yield Center 360 advises that an effective nitrogen management plan needs to focus on how much N a particular field and corn crop needs, as well as how to properly manage N throughout the growing season — with adjustments along the way. Read More
Precision AgFarmobile Coming Online In 2015
March 5, 2015
A new startup is looking to make collecting and selling ag data a more rewarding proposition for growers. Read More
Crop InputsCommodity Classic 2015 Sets Attendance High Mark
March 4, 2015
With nearly 8,000 total attendees, the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in Phoenix, AZ, shattered previous records for the landmark event, Read More
Young corn plants
FertilizerNew Nitrogen Stabilizer From Simplot Protects Fertilize…
March 4, 2015
By using OmniPierce Technology, Eclipse-N from Simplot Grower Solutions coats and protects more nitrogen, increasing nitrogen efficiency and decreasing loss due to volatilization. Read More
Industry NewsOhio Corn And Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean A…
March 4, 2015
The associations truly appreciate the comprehensive approach and diligent work that the Ohio House of Representatives has dedicated to addressing water quality and House Bill 61. Read More
Mahindra Implement
Industry NewsMahindra USA Aligns With Paladin Attachment For Impleme…
March 4, 2015
Mahindra USA will begin utilizing Paladin Attachments as its implement supplier in April 2015. Read More
Crop InputsValent BioSciences Acquires Mycorrhizal Applications
March 4, 2015
The acquisition adds another strategic platform to VBC’s rapidly expanding global biorational business, providing additional tools for the Biorational Window platform being developed with its parent, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation - Plant Nutrient on the Farm Station
Industry NewsNutrients For Life Foundation Launches New Station Prog…
March 4, 2015
This ready-to-implement station provides an interactive opportunity for farms to showcase crop nutrients’ important role in growing healthy crops. Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsAdjuvants Continue Upward Trend
March 4, 2015
A dizzying array of developments in crop protection technologies promise to make specialty adjuvants a crucial piece of the puzzle going forward. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
Equipment10 Tips For Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More