Sunday, March 1, 2015

AgroLiquid Gives St. Louis the Business

So last week AgroLiquid descended on that great American city on the Mississippi: St. Louis.  It was a meeting of Sales Account Managers, Regional Sales Managers, our CEO and a few other St. Johns folks, including me.  It was a different type of meeting in that we wanted to meet with some other businesses and learn how they market themselves.  One of these was the St. Louis Cardinals.  Now that was pretty ambitious.  We met in Busch Stadium in one of the fancy suites and had a great lunch.  This was our view.
 And if you want to find out about a company's business, who better to talk to than the president?  So we did.  Here is Cardinals president, and one of the owners, Mr. Bill Dewitt III.  He gave a really nice presentation.  The Cardinals are certainly one of the most successful baseball teams there is.  They have been constant winners, having won 11 World Series, the first in 1926 and the most recent in 2011.  He said that they strive for consistent quality rather than ramping up for a year or two and then going backwards for a few years.  That is what the public expects.  Sounds like AgroLiquid and the Cardinals agree there.
 Here is the obligatory group picture.  He indicated that St. Louis is considered a small market, and I guess they are.  But the Cardinals are anything but small market when it comes to the team's image.  In fact, last year they drew over 3.5 million fans to home games, which was second overall in the Major Leagues.  (Only the Dodgers drew more, but the Cardinals out-drew the Yankees.)  So it is a well run operation and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Who would have thought we could get someone like that to talk to us?  We have arrived!  I think.
 Well there was the usual Liquid business discussions.  It was a meeting after all.  But it was a good view too.
Later we got a tour of the stadium which included going out to the Cardinals dugout.  That wasn't a white tarp, that is snow.  It was cold and the shaded areas had snow.  (Brian W confided that he spit some tobacco juice on the field like a pro ballplayer.  Cross that off your list Brian.)  But it was cool.  I never imagined visiting a major league dugout.
 Then we had dinner at a place next to the Cardinal Hall of Fame.  Of course they had plenty of tributes to their most famous and popular player.
 Here is the World Series room with uniforms and pics from all eleven of them.
 As in business, Troy prepares to hit one out of the park.  And he is helped by an actual Stan Musial bat.  
 And at dinner, Troy summarized where we were and what needs to be done going into the 2015 growing season.  We all left motivated.
What is anther big business in St. Louis?  (Well besides that one.)  Earlier in the day we had the opportunity to tour the Monsanto Chesterfield research facility.  Monsanto was the pioneer in agricultural biotechnology, and they built this facility back in 1984 just for this purpose.  They are making a significant expansion here, so they are looking at the future.  I was here last October for a tour...still impressive. 
Well they wouldn't let me take pictures of things like the growth chambers, the DNA sequencer and the like.  But I did get this pic of a GMO demonstration of Bt soybeans and regular soybeans showing the effects of two weeks of soybean looper infection.  Get out the insecticide...on the non-GMO that is.
 Our business experience was presented by Monsanto's Director of Industry Affairs.  He represents Monsanto in dealings with grower organizations like National Corn Growers and others, as well as representing Monsanto in regulatory issues and GMO topics with the public.  He explained Monsanto's strategy for dealing with the GMO's and the public.  Seeing as he and I were graduate students together at Oklahoma State many years ago, of course there was old picture sharing. The three of us in that pic there were good friends back then and shared a birthday month, as well as all worked later for Monsanto.  That pic is 35 years old...those were the days. Well I changed jobs, but he stuck around and gave a very informative presentation.  
I saw this display of different products in their line-up.  I remember putting out Lasso plots with my old tractor plot sprayer.  I wish I had a cologne of that smell.  I enjoy working with another equally famous purple product now...Sure-K.
So that was a good day.  So often we are too focused on our business, that it is good to get an outside look at how other businesses operate and see what you can learn.  And I'm glad I got to go.