Being A Survivor

The other day, Group Editor Paul Schrimpf passed a particularly interesting Web article my way. This story discussed the precarious futures for various companies through the end of 2009, given current economic conditions and their own debt burdens.

I’ll admit — some of the names on this list were companies I have a soft spot for or use in my daily life. They include Blockbuster Video, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and Sirius XM Sa­tellite Radio.

“It’s possible none of the firms on this list will liquidate or even declare Chapter 11,” wrote the article’s author. “But one way or another, the firms will probably look a lot different a year from now than they do today.”

The next day, coincidentally, I received a call from a researcher wanting information on our magazine’s CropLife 100 listings. Specifically, the caller wanted data on the top revenue retailers between 2000 and 2005, broken down by crop input/service. Because none of this information is available in our Web site archives (yet), I started digging through back issues of our publication to pull together the requested data.

What struck me while doing this project was just how many well-known, long-standing dealerships and cooperatives have disappeared from our industry since the start of the decade. Remember Farmland In­dustries? UAP? Royster-Clark? Alabama Farm­ers Co­operative? Agway?

At the start of the 21st century, all these retailers had annual sales between $100 million and $500 million. Each were entrenched players within the marketplace with hundreds (or thousands) of grower-customers counting on them to supply their crop inputs and services without fail. Today, 10 short years later, each and every one of them is an asterisk — either having gone bankrupt from poor business practices/market conditions or been gobbled up by larger competitors in merger deals.

Now I’m certain that every one of these retailers (and dozens of others that have disappeared over the past 10 years) expected to survive. I’ve yet to meet the company executive that says the ultimate goal of his organization is to “disappear in the wink of an eye.”

What separates the survivors from the non-survivors, you might be asking? I have a partial, rather obvious answer: flexibility. Looking at the percentage of crop input/service sales by category (fertilizer, crop protection, seed, and custom application), it’s clear that the surviving large retailers were much quicker to adapt to market changes. When crop protection product sales began to wane earlier this decade, the survivor retailers altered their crop input percentages accordingly, upping their focus on seed and fertilizer. Non-survivors, however, tended to remain static in their percentage mixes.

Given economics in 2009, I would encourage ag retailers who’ve hesitated making these kinds of changes to their businesses to jump. That way, your company will likely be a survivor and not an afterthought on someone’s editorial page 10 years from now.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationARA: Sonny Perdue Confirmation Delay Simply A Paperwork…
March 9, 2017
It’s been seven weeks since the White House named former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) as the nominee for the next Read More