Articles Within Our Area of Expertise: Growing Stronger
Team NoroGard: Australian Grain Systems
For over 20 years, NoroGard has been working closely with Australian Grain Systems making them one of our dearest representants. Andrew and his team are manufacturing seed plants for stationary as well as mobile seed treatment. They’ve been doing so for nearly 30 years, making them specialists and market leading in the designing and manufacturing of custom-made mobile seed plants for grain treatment and processing. Their important knowledge in the industry as well as the process of seed treatment has made Australian Grain Systems a well-known benchmark for quality, reliability and customer satisfaction. Which may be why we work so well together.
Andrew is our exclusive provider of NoroGard seed treatment equipment to the Australian market. Due to our long-lasting relationship and joint interest in quality and reliability, we are providing customized solutions to fit the needs of the Australian market. Such as high visible screens to avoid reflections due to the sunlight out in the field, low power requirement and a more compact design to minimize footprint on mobile seed plants, without ever compromising with quality and capacity. This makes Australian Grain Systems our largest customer for seed treaters and spare parts.
We are extremely proud of our relations with Andrew and his team at Australian Grain Systems. This cooperation is the essence of Team NoroGard and why we push so hard for strong relations with our representants. Good communication with representants opens for new opportunities in how we design our products to meet the demands of the customers. Andrew’s expertise and input are therefore crucial for us to further meet the needs of the Australian market.
4 Steps for how you become market leading within the industry
How do you become leading within the industry, with a product that outshines all its competitors? Is it by following everyone else’s footsteps? Swedes have a saying that goes, “Only the dead fish follow the stream.” The same goes for you when the key is to provide a seed with qualities and values that everyone is aspiring to achieve. NoroGard will help you become an independent seed processing corporation in four steps.
First, make your own recipes. Our NoroGard laboratory seed coaters are top of the line, developed and designed with support from seed breeders and laboratories worldwide in order to provide the ideal laboratory batch treaters for coating and pelletizing. This includes high precision, accuracy and high application quality. As well as a batch treater, which is easy to operate and clean, with a perfect pelletizing result. By making your own recipes, you keep the knowledge within your own circle, as well as being able to profit by cutting down on intermediaries.
Secondly, making sure to provide our customers with customization options in order to present equipment that is completely fitted to your needs. All NoroGard seed coaters are equipped with the sophisticated technology you need to achieve cutting-edge performance. Offering a tailored product that is fit to your needs provides a great advantage as this proves as an opportunity to grow and develop your business.
Third, providing our customers with technical support. All our seed coaters are designed and produced within our facilities. This means we are in full control of every step along the production line, and our technicians are part of the development of our machinery. Regardless of what query or thought you may have regarding your NoroGard Seed Coater, we make sure to maintain the support you need, when you need it.
And last, we provide our customers with a product that has a long-lifetime and a low life cost. A good economy in your investment calls for a quick return of investment, without intermediaries within the process chain. The NoroGard seed coaters are designed to last for up to 20 years which means that not only do you gain multiple advantages with your NoroGard seed coater, the same advantages will also bring you a fast return of investment which will lay ground for further profitability. So, how´s your business? Are you providing the seed with qualities and values that everyone is aspiring to achieve?
Smart seed treating and M2M technology
Maintaining a competitive advantage requires that you go beyond the traditional strategies to increase quality and lower production costs. New technologies and the evolution of human behavior call for machines that continuously adapt to their operating environments.
Modern machines are smarter, safer and greener. They are more connected, flexible and efficient. Using smart technology, they enable preventive maintenance, easy collaboration and lower cost of ownership. Smart agriculture is a growing field, with Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology available to track the location and condition of livestock, monitor the growing conditions of crops, and optimize the performance of farm equipment (using precise geo-location to minimize wastage in crop-spraying operations, for example).
High-value crops can be monitored by wireless sensors for a range of parameters (air temperature, humidity, soil temperature, soil moisture, leaf wetness, atmospheric pressure, solar radiation, trunk/stem/fruit diameter, wind speed and direction, and rainfall), with real-time data gathered by an on-site gateway, sent to the cloud and accessed via Internet-connected computers or smartphones. This information allows irrigation and other agricultural interventions to be precisely matched to local growing conditions.
The seed treatment equipment of today has sophisticated supervision and operation systems and it’s a great advantage to be able to communicate with your Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).
You can supervise your seed treatment from anywhere, using your PC, tablet or even your phone. You get information on how much you have treated, how much products you have used etc. You have access to your quality control and operating panel anywhere you are. If something should happen, engineers can easily access the PLC of your seed treater and do damage control. They can determine what´s failing and also talk to the machine. This saves time and maybe also a trip for the service manager.
Engineers can upgrade or reprogram the PLC for you from anywhere in the world. A sophisticated supervision system makes sure the seed is treated according to your recipe. You tell the system your credentials and tolerances. The machine will continuously control the flow and the seed treatment process. If anything out of the ordinary happens, the seed treater will tell you. The M2M Internet connection on your treater will help to address the issue in a quick and smooth manner. Maybe you are located out far from the service provider, perhaps even on a mobile seed treatment truck. With a sophisticated Internet-connected supervision system, you have access to all technical support if needed.
5 Keys for Growing Stronger
Running a business is an art. It’s an everyday struggle, and every business has its own challenges. I think I speak for most business owners when I say that most of us want to grow our business, and there are some key factors to do so.
First of all, a golden rule is if you do the same thing every day, you will most likely get the same result. So, in order to achieve growth, you need to step up and make some improvements.
To grow your business, you most likely need to increase your turnover — sell more. Most of us have experienced the eager salesperson who just won’t give up, and when hiring sales People, we often talk about finding “hunters.” I claim the opposite. Make it easy for your customers to choose you. Be very clear with the advantages and why they will benefit from choosing your products. Selling something the client wants is easier than trying to sell them something you want to sell. And there is one way to make it easy for you: listen to the customer and find the mutual win-win opportunity.
If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Having a great team with skilled people makes a world of difference. And in order to have access to skilled people and make the best people work with you, you need to be attractive. This is more true than ever, as millennials enter the market. They are not just looking for a job… They don’t even want a job. They want to make a difference, and for a workplace they might consider you if your brand adds value to their self-image. For us, as a machine manufacturer, it’s a challenge to attract young people to enter the production line, we need to be more attractive than game developers and real estate agencies.
Scaling up your business doesn’t just affect the sales department. It also puts your production on the spot. Everybody in your organization needs to focus on the delivery. If you have set the standards, it’s much easier to introduce new co-workers, and to keep track of quality control and time management overall. You as a manager also gets a clearer overview of where you need to put your resources to improve your performance.
As mentioned above, doing the same thing over and over is just keeping you in old patterns. If you’re not growing your business, you’re most likely decreasing it. It’s highly important that you have a good business intelligence and stay innovative. The only way to stay interesting, both to customers and employees, is to be adaptive to change. Always seek to improve what you are already good at, and look for areas within your organization that could be a prospect for an upgrade. Still whilst only providing what the customer is looking to buy, but in a way that ensures your business is in it for the long run. Constantly ask the question how you can do what you do, but better.
The importance of staying authentic can’t be stressed enough. Nothing gives you better marketing than a good word from a customer, co-worker, bank or supplier. Keep your promises and stay authentic to yourself, your vision and your stakeholders.
Cash is King
No matter the industry, all business boils down to economics. When your business is doing well, you have the opportunity to make investments in your company or your line of production. When you’re in this phase of decision-making, it’s just common sense to explore an array of options and request multiple quotes.
At NoroGard, we get quote requests all the time, but it’s very rare for anyone to ask for the total cost, or the life cycle cost, of seed treatment equipment. I certainly understand that you need pricing to consider the investment ahead of you. But you must keep the whole picture in mind when evaluating the return of your investment.
To determine the life cycle cost of your, you need to know the average life span of the equipment. The average life span of a NoroGard seed treater is about 20 years, something that is rare in today’s marketplace. Your supplier should always be able to provide references if you ask for previous customers who’ve had the equipment for long and can tell you about their experience.
The annual costs of service and spare parts can greatly differ depending on the supplier and the quality of the seed treater. First of all, it’s of utmost importance that you can access spare parts at anytime in the future. Since NoroGard seed treaters have a long average life span, we still keep spare parts for models of NoroGard/KenoGard seed treaters that we stopped manufacturing more than 20 years ago. Of course technology has taken us far since then, and it would be wise for the customer to upgrade their equipment. But we keep supplying parts just as a service. You might also check if the wearing parts are made of stainless steel and designed to be easily exchanged, if needed.
Other aspects we look at, to keep maintenance costs low, is the design of our pumps. We know that all pumps for transportation or dosing seed treatment liquids work under really tough conditions, and our pump design takes this into consideration. Furthermore, to ensure our quality standards are met, we manufacture all pumps in-house. The only regular maintenance required on a NoroGard pump, apart from ordinary cleaning, is changing a rubber seal once a year — about a $10 cost.
Because we don’t use a peristaltic pump, there’s virtually no wear on the hoses, which minimizes the maintenance and breakdown costs, if one were to occur. The life cycle cost is also affected by the consumption of electricity, another factor that differs a great deal. This is a cost you can easily calculate; all you have to do is ask for the electrical information.
To save our operators time and money, NoroGard delivers all seed treaters with GSM modems in the PLC at no extra charge. This allows distant support by NoroGard technicians to download new software or to review your system if needed.
I believe the low life cycle cost is something customers can’t put a price tag on, and it plays a significant role in quality control when we look to improve design and develop a new range of equipment. Next time you’re requesting quotes for seed treatment equipment, be sure you’re looking at total cost over the product’s entire life cycle.
It's not who you know, it's about who knows you
Marketing is not our core business, so I like to work with professionals on that. In our latest marketing campaign, it was suggested that for one of our ads we should use a close-up of yours truly. I think a lot of people thought I’d never agree to that. But I did — instantly. Not only because I’m a little bit vain, but I had three good business reasons to put my mug out there.
First of all, I’m very proud of my company. I am proud to represent it, our products and our team. As a business owner I also know that if you put your name (or in this case your face) on your work, you are most likely going to perform your best. You want to make sure you can proudly show your face when it comes to business relationships — be they with employees, suppliers, your range of products, and after-sale services.
Second, we are all human and we like to interact with other humans — the foundation of good communication. My company has been manufacturing seed coaters for more then 50 years and ships them worldwide. Often we have challenges or customizations that need to be solved, and since our clients are from all parts of the world, good communication is essential.
In Scandinavia, just like Canada, we often are challenged by freezing weather conditions in early spring. We are used to solving issues caused by the cold, making sure the liquid flows and that the treatment sticks to the seed and not the equipment in a range of conditions. This can only be successful if you have good communication and work with people that feel they can connect with one another. Clients need to know that you are available and engaged. It’s key that you show your face.
Third, our company was built on relationships. It´s essential that we have great quality, top-of-the-line equipment and good after-sale support. But the most important factor of all — our trust account — was built by people who are recognized.
Build an organization where all your co-workers proudly show their faces,and I assure you that you will have a prosperous business — and you’ll be surrounded by great, professional people!
It's not them, it's You and I!
The future belongs to the world’s youth, so the big question is how to be attractive to the Millennials?
I have the privilege to do what I love for a living. I am growing an old, trustworthy company into a world-leading position in a global market. And I love every minute of it. NoroGard has its feet in two industries. We are machine manufacturers, and our business is in the agriculture industry. To me that’s the best of two worlds and since I have passion and engagement, I can achieve almost anything.
Taking over a family-owned company that has been in the business for more than 50 years, and making it world-leading, requires a change in mindset, in order to gain new and improved results.
Although NoroGard has a great history, my focus is on the future, since that’s where we are going to spend our time. Of course, I cannot do this by myself: I need the best co-workers. And if you want to attract the best people, you need to step up and become attractive.
The future belongs to the world’s youth, so the big question is how to be attractive to the Millennials? Lately, I have noticed that our industry uses social media like a defense to explain seed breeding and to promote understanding, in general, for agricultural processes. I sense the industry is desperately trying to create public understanding for genetics and seed treatments and the innovations that have been made.
Never before has public interest in agriculture been higher. The demands for biological and organic is enormous. We also have a generation who has access to all the information they want—but no experience whatsoever. The result is they interpret the information as they (or the media) pleases.
The world’s population continues to grow, but the acres don’t. We need to increase yields at harvest, in order to put food on the table.
The Millennial generation, in general, doesn’t know farming, but they google everything they are interested in. You can curse it, or you can choose to adapt and work it. The Millenniums are engaged and passionate, as well as demanding and spoiled … Instead of telling them why we do what we do, we should challenge them to do it better! But only if you dare, because the risk is that they will do a far better job—if you let them.
Due to climate change and the growing population, the industries with the brightest futures are involved in clean water, clean air, and agriculture. That’s where you want to invest and buy some shares.
We need to clean out social media from a lot of useless crap and fill it with valuable engagement. I don’t care what you had for breakfast and I don’t want to see your outfit of the day. I want to see influencers that provide clean water, food and education in developing countries.
I want to see all YOU agronomists writing a blog about your passion in order to engage the next generation to find new, organic, biological seed treatment solutions. We need more science and knowledge regarding the soil, bacteria and the environment for germination, and YOU need to make it attractive.
I want all YOU farmers and seed processers to make use of your Instagram account and encourage the next generation of farmers to put food on the table. If the public, in general, doesn’t understand the complexity and charm of agriculture, it’s because they haven’t heard it from the proper source.
YOU & I need to make the public’s interest in agriculture creative and meaningful, and we need to do it on social media, starting today!