Our industry in North America has seen some challenges in the last three years. There, I said it. Denial is no longer just a river in Egypt.
There are certainly some bright spots but generally speaking, since about 2014 forward, our business environment has been a bit lackluster for my taste. There are too many economic factors to dare to detail, but agriculture as a whole and the seed industry as a microcosm of such have seen some challenging times.
Leading indicators like farm income certainly tell part of the story – things peaked and have corrected (I could have said “declined” right?). Because you can’t take the effect and make it the cause (think about that one), consider that mega-mergers are a pretty good lagging indicator that even the largest (not necessarily the healthiest) are shoring up their business strategies. Potential changes didn’t create the situation, but they may exacerbate it with indecision. Change always includes some fear of the unknown.
Why Create a Direct Business Entity?
So all that said, why would a company like Petkus Technologie GmbH decide in the same timeframe to push the envelope in North America by creating a direct business entity?
I think the answers are pretty simple and straightforward, maybe even practical. Through technology, innovation, engineering and services, in a tight marketplace where margins and efficiencies have to be constantly considered, Petkus can offer value.
Value through technology matters in both the products we create and in how we create them. You are not utilizing the same equipment that the previous generation used. Even if the equipment still screens or separates in the same mechanical fashion, automation and controls have improved efficiencies. To serve our customer as a manufacturer, we also need to be concerned with manufacturing such advanced technologies at a justifiable, competitive cost. Investments is technology streamline our processes and benefit the end user with lower production costs.
We deliver value through innovation with the cooperation of the Roeber Institute. Essentially an independent R&D group, The Roeber Institute was established within Petkus as a catalyst for innovative developments and subsequent product market entry. To compensate for a lack of technological progress in our industry over several decades, the Roeber staff is investigating and developing new optical sorting techniques, aerodynamic elements and remarkably outside the box solutions for seed treatment and pathogen elimination.
Engineering and services are the final, key pieces to establishing our value. They are best delivered in person. That is the baseline reasoning for creation of a business unit in North America. Products are inevitably only as good as their support. Through development of local staff who can also leverage expertise from Germany, our goal is to do business where you do…whether it’s in Nampa, Idaho, the Netherlands or maybe both.
Beyond a simple introduction, my point is to establish that with changes at hand, opportunities abound. Because after all, this is North America and if you want to be a global leader, you have to lead here.