Seed World

Is Your Business Actually Prepared for Growth?

Gro Alliance

A third-generation seedsman, Jim Schweigert grew up in the family seed business and was exposed to industry issues at an early age. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of Minnesota and worked for corporate public relations firms in Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta before joining the family business full time in 2003. He has since been active in the American Seed Trade Association, the Independent Professional Seed Association and earned his master’s in seed technology and business from Iowa State University. As president, Schweigert manages client contracts and crop planning, as well as business development and new market opportunities. His unique background and experience make him one of the seed industry’s leaders in innovation. As such, he was honored as Seed World’s 2009 Future Giant and currently serves as chair of the board of directors for Seed Programs International.

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Recently, the merger between Dow and DuPont and ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta have received key government approvals. Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto is also expected to close. This means 80 percent of the U.S. seed corn market and 70 percent of the U.S. soybean market will be involved in merger activity during the next two sales seasons.

The recent history of multinationals holding purchased market share is not good, and the independents want to strike. But are all the independents really prepared for growth? Are they building the internal ability to take advantage of new salespeople, new dealers and new customers?

Since 2013, Gro Alliance has purchased two seed production facilities, built three seed conditioning facilities and nearly tripled our seed corn nursery service business. It’s safe to say, we’ve experienced growth. Below are a few basic lessons we’ve learned along the way. These three P’s will help independent companies turn market share opportunities into actual sales.

People, Plain and simple … the quality of your people will determine if your company grows.

You’ll need people with new skills and new ideas. A leadership or sales team with a diverse set of experiences and perspectives that complement each other will give your company the best chance to succeed in a dynamic market.

Plan, Adding a new dealer or territory could be a great opportunity, but does it support the growth strategy or disrupt it? A written plan will help you maintain discipline to your strategy. Selling more seed doesn’t matter if those new sales aren’t profitable or you don’t have the right products for the market. Taking the extra time to develop a written expansion plan for volume growth and territory expansion will give you a ruler by which to measure each new opportunity.

Process, New employees need to be assimilated to your company quickly to maintain message consistency. Documenting key processes is effective in doing just that. As expansions pull people and time away from the main office, consistency can be lost. Your brand depends on customers having the same, great experience with your brand at every interaction. It’s important to train employees on key business processes such as prospecting new customers, positioning products and explaining your brand to new customers.

In short, growth doesn’t just happen. Companies that plan and prepare have the best chance to convert market share opportunities into sales. The three P’s are an effective way to get started.