Forging Partnerships

I was fortunate this month in that I was able to sell Eric Sfiligoj on the cover story idea featuring Jimmy Sanders, Inc. Sure, I am the boss — but Eric does have the latitude to tell me I’m full of baloney if he thinks my suggestions are bad. It’s one of the best benefits of having a seasoned, senior staff — they don’t really fear me, so I get pretty straight feedback.

Anyway, I got to do the story, and it’s a very cool story indeed. Sanders has been quietly creating one of the most progressive retail establishments in the country, let alone the Mid-South — with an emphasis on QUIET. So their willingness to share a bit about their business — specifically, its adoption of cutting-edge technology — got me pumped to do the story.

There are many lessons to be learned, most of which you’ll find in the story itself. The biggest key factor of all has been the establishment of a mission that is bought into from the top down, so that everyone knows what is expected and has a clear understanding of their roles. During the last decade in particular, when identifying and integrating technology became a significant focus, Jimmy Sanders has benefitted from clarity of vision.

Another, more subtle factor that I found particularly beneficial to the company has been a willingness to work very closely with suppliers in formulating solutions to problems, and in adopting new practices and technologies.

Jeff Dearborn, Sanders’ main technology guy, knew that implementing wireless communication would be the next big thing technology-wise for the retailer. He could see the positive impact that being able to send and receive files electronically from machinery to office and back at a moment’s notice would have during the busy season, when growers change input strategies — even crop decisions — with tender trucks en route. Being able to collect data and monitor machine movement would provide even more benefits.

Enter GVM, a long time equipment partner, which had been working on a solution called GVM Telematics to provide just such a service, and which was looking for good partners to get it out in the field.

“To Sanders, we were a trusted supplier they were already using,” says Aaron Hunt, who manages the GVM Telematics business. “They did not have to go out and find a new vendor. It ends up being good for both sides.”

Kudos to GVM in this endeavor — they built the Telematics system to work with any color of machine. And while the Raven VIPER is the controller being used, Hunt says that it will add Internet-capable controllers to the mix once they are released to the market.

The bottom line is, there are many opportunities to grow and improve the way we do business, but only so many hours in the day and only so much manpower we can dedicate to ferreting out and implementing new ideas.

This is particularly true with technology, which continues to evolve more and more rapidly. It’s difficult (and expensive) for businesses to keep up while working alone. Sanders’ Dearborn highlights the importance of having a good foundation of people and a clear mission, but having solid business partners among manufacturers is another important way retailers can make progress on technology.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
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
FertilizerTFI President To Give Update On Nutrient Management Efforts At Annual Conference
January 19, 2015
The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn will give the keynote address at the 2015 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference February 4. Read More
Green Valley Ag facility
Paul SchrimpfRightsizing Ag Retail
January 9, 2015
Seeking the right balance of facilities, efficiency and customer service will make our businesses stronger and, truth be told, more capable of competing effectively with the likes of Pinnacle. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
Has the app market reached a saturation point? Consider Google Play and the iTunes App Store combined have more than 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
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance 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