Jonathan Sweat, Vice-President, Business Management
The way a big business like ours operates can be complex. But when that business is operating within an environment like agriculture, which is subject to constant change – much of which is outside of human control – you’re looking at a whole new ballgame.
So, the question is, how does a business like BASF continue to remain successful and run efficiently and effectively, while navigating the rapidly shifting landscape of Canadian agriculture?
First, we have to accept that change is a constant. As the old saying goes, “expect the unexpected,” and nowhere is this truer than in agriculture, where unpredictable weather can make or break a farmer’s business, where mergers and acquisitions have resulted in unprecedented market consolidation, and importantly, where general public perception of modern agriculture is largely misunderstood.
With that, I would argue that perhaps the bigger question is, “what happens if we don’t adapt and change along with our industry?”
How businesses remain successful today is dependent on their ability to constantly evolve and adapt how they do business to meet the rapidly changing needs of their customers. I believe this is the key to BASF’s successful growth and evolution as a business here in Canada. This is why we’ve made some big changes recently – not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s how we’re going to lead the way in achieving stronger alignment with our customers’ needs, through a more efficient, agile and holistic approach to doing business.
Take our new RetailConnect distribution model, for example – we’ve just announced that we’re expanding strategically to a new direct-to-distribution model that allows us to work directly with independent retailers across western Canada. This is critical – and exciting – primarily because it will allow us to get closer to our retail customers, and ensure we’re delivering the service they both expect and deserve. Our strategic acquisition of Bayer assets, just under a year ago, was the catalyst for this change. and gave us the infrastructure we needed to put this model in place.
But more importantly, this is an example of how we adapt to change at BASF: we take into consideration what matters to our customers first and foremost, and prioritize those opportunities that are going to drive the most value for them. Without market consolidation, we would never have had the deep understanding of a grower’s operation that we do today, because it allowed for the expansion of our business into seed. We couldn’t have brought RetailConnect to our customers without these critical changes, either. And likely, we would have never made the decision to move our headquarters west: a move that brings our business closer to our customers, and closer to our own team.
Do we think we’re going to have to navigate our way through more change in the future? Absolutely. If we’re smart, we’ll recognize that change really is a constant, especially in our business – and you can bet that we’ll adapt to those changes as smoothly and efficiently as we can, evolving what we bring to our customers, and to our people.
all in this together, and I’m confident that if we remain as agile as
possible, open to change and to doing things differently when we need
to, we will achieve great things. After all, it is during periods of
change that companies have an opportunity to uncover what matters most.
For us, it’s about building a business around what is right for our
customers. And I believe that if we can stay true to that, we all win.