It's Not Who You Know, It's 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 & 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!


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.

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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.

Be Lazy

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.

Be Attractive

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.

Set Standards

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.

Be Innovative

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.

Stay Authentic

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.

Sustainability isn't a Sacrifice, It's Good for Business

Companies embracing sustainability initiatives may discover benefits and opportunities they hadn't even dreamed about.

The student strikes taking place around the globe to protest government inaction on global warming have put the spotlight on climate change. Inspired by 16-year-old Swedish student and political activist Greta Thunberg, hundreds of thousands of students walk out of class each Friday morning to strike for climate change — and have been for the past six months. 

This recent limelight on climate change is also helping increase the prominence of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all UN member states in 2015, and provides a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and in the future. 

The UN has identified 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which address global challenges we face—such as poverty, climate change, the environment, and inequality—and has set an agenda to achieve each goal and target by 2030.

Rather than being sacrifices our businesses must make, the UN’s sustainable development goals are good for business. In fact, companies embracing sustainability initiatives may discover benefits and opportunities they hadn’t even dreamed about. By working toward the 17 SDGs our company isn’t making compromises—we’re putting money in our pockets and we’re finding huge opportunities.

For example, we’re running our business in a better way. We’re realizing resource savings by using less materials, such as steel and electricity, for the compact equipment we produce, which also results in production cost savings. We’re producing less water waste while saving energy and we’re considering the environmental impacts of any changes or innovations to our equipment. We’re more cost-effective and efficient because of our sustainability initiatives.

If the products we are manufacturing are good for the environment, they usually provide safe, healthy working environments for operators or end-users. These environmental and sustainability considerations make us a more attractive company to do business with as well and to work for, which is so important these days.

Sweden’s economy is based on industrial exports and technology, and it can be difficult to attract and retain employees. Additionally, how do we recruit younger generations? For millennials, and future generations, a job must have meaning as these age groups want to feel they are contributing to, and making a difference in, the world around them. You have to show them they can make a difference by working for your operation.

By committing to the SDGs, you’re putting your company in a good position for recruitment and retention. For example, we’re making compact equipment that requires the smallest resource inputs possible and uses minimal resources and materials to produce end-users’ products (treated seed). Our equipment increases farmers’ yields and we are helping put food on the table. This is a great start in attracting people to our company. The next generation is very aware of what they are eating and how it was produced, and they will demand sustainably-produced products.

We can show them this industry is interesting, exciting and good for the environment. Corporate sustainability will attract young people to our companies. This is just one benefit of incorporating sustainability initiatives.

One of the SDGs is gender equality. There are huge projects to attract and promote women in food and agriculture now, and this trend is growing. Focusing on helping women in industry will also increase our businesses and our opportunities. 

From its beginnings, our corporate culture has been built on the principles of economy and resource conservation, which continues today. In Europe, we’re running out of power — that’s the next challenge, and we can meet that challenge with sustainable practices. It’s important not to view sustainability as a project but as something we must incorporate into our daily lives. 

The whole industry is going in this direction and we have the opportunity to be leaders. Just think, if one secondary school student is able to initiate a global movement to raise awareness about climate change, I wonder what we are capable of as individuals, as corporate entities, and as an industry. 

If you want to take action, visit https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org. I don’t think one person can do everything, but I believe everybody can do something—and taking action is infectious.

Discovering Common Ground

Providing high-quality products in an economical manner is a challenge we all face.

One of the challenges of working in the global seed industry is the great distances we must travel to cover our vast territories—it’s an extensive marketplace involving most countries around the world. Add to that the differences in culture and core values between countries.

However, from my travels to North and South America, the Baltic countries, India and within Europe, I’ve realized there are more similarities among people and businesses than there are differences. The people I meet and the businesses they own and operate have much common ground, including an aim to provide high-quality products, pride in those products they produce, and prudent resource management.

We have a direct connection to the food industry, so we’re all very quality-minded and we aim for the highest standards in our work and our products. We are also mindful of providing cost-effective solutions for our customers and, ultimately, for the farmer, who is also running a business and must make a profit. Providing high-quality products in an economical manner is a challenge we all face.

Another reality for our industry—and a challenge for most stakeholders—is regulatory compliance. In Europe, products must meet European Union requirements to protect human and animal health, the environment and consumer rights. We must also provide detailed risk analyses for the products we produce.

However, as a European seed treatment equipment company, the regulations we must comply with also provide many business advantages. To sell equipment in Europe, you must be a Certified European manufacturer. The letters “CE” signify products sold in the European Economic Area have been assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental protection requirements.

What this means for our business is all processes, from delivery and installation to handling chemicals and operating equipment, as well as unit disposal, must meet EU regulations. Most importantly, by buying CE-approved equipment, operators know all risks have been considered and they won’t be exposed to chemicals or hurt in any way, no matter where they are in the world.

In fact, European seed companies must buy Certified European equipment in order to install it. However, given the opportunity, I believe the industry would continue to choose equipment made to meet these rigorous standards because businesses want machines to be safe, easy to clean, while operating at minimal risk to health, safety and the environment.

For example, in Europe, seed treatment equipment must operate within closed systems: from the barrel all the way to bagged seed, the operator does not come into contact with the seed treatment chemicals. One dosing system is connected to each slurry or chemical. Chemicals, or products, are mixed in the machine before application.

This also goes hand-in-hand with product quality because machines are easily cleaned and dosing rates are managed within the system, increasing application accuracy. Additionally, the equipment’s sophisticated and regulated system provides statistics on everything from dosing rates to cleaning records. It’s also easier to attract and retain equipment operators for closed systems.

The demand for seed treatments in North and South America, Africa, China and the Baltic countries, to name a few, is large and increasing. There is also an upward trend toward high-volume mobile trailers.

What I’ve discovered from traveling to the countries that make up our markets is the businesses in those countries are actively seeking out equipment that meets the high standards set by EU regulations—yet more common ground across diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds. I believe we will continue to see our industry striving in this way for the protection of human and animal safety and health and the environment.

Can you afford not to build corporate sustainability?

The United Nations have launched sustainable development goals as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals are addressing the global challenges we are facing including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environment degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each goal and target by 2030.

At NoroGard we are convinced that Corporate sustainability has developed from a nice thing to do, -to something we have to do.

Today the world is so well connected it is impossible to act as an individual or a national company on these global challenges. We must act as world citizens and with global business management.

Globally we are a growing and ageing population, today with a population of 7 billion, to estimated 10 billion when we reach 2100. We are rapidly consuming the natural resources and the CO2 emissions are increasing fast.

 

As business leaders, we can not be sat on the fence. It is about time we take action.

But making decisions that are beneficial for the climate is not about sacrifices, it is also good for the economy. Investors today value companies based on financial data, financial reports, market share, sales growth and cash flowing valuation.

-But are investment regulations of today fit for purpose tomorrow?

I believe that in order to valuate a company or a business, we need to include performance metrics such as ESG. Environment as in energy consumption, water availability, waste and pollution. Social as in human capital, innovation capacity, employee engagement, supply chain management, lay bore rights and human rights. Governance as in boards and directors.

In these performance metrics you will find your level of corporate sustainability and today the private sector is paying attention. The CEO´s of the private sector sees growth, innovation, competitive advantage and future importance in these metrics.

At NoroGard we always keep an eye on our energy consumption and waste for economical reasons to save us some money. We also take huge pride in the fact that the equipment we build makes a good impact. We design our products to have a low energy consumption, make sure they are easy to clean to reduce waste of water, and compact built to reduce waste and pollution.

To care for our human resources is common sense and the soul of the company culture, an engaged employee keeps thriving for innovations and improvement.

As a female managing director and entrepreneur I find it obvious that diversity and equality is good for business, as well in the workshop as in the board.

Corporate sustainability is good business and it is about reducing risk for the environment, it is not about making sacrifices. Food, energy and water will be the business to invest in as we will need to feed 10 billion mouths.

 

So, let’s plan for the future, because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives!

The Sky's the Limit

By spending time devising the seed’s characteristics, you will develop a unique product for the marketplace.

What if you could create the perfect seed? What would its characteristics be? In what ways would you enhance that seed? What if you could choose the characteristics that add value to that seed? It’s important to take time to dream about—to conceptualize—your perfect seed.

You can choose and develop the characteristics of the seed end-users will value. For example, what do you want to add to the seed, how do you want the seed to behave, and what kind of value are you offering your customers and why?

Also, what do you want to do with the seed—do you want to make it easier to plant with planting equipment by developing a harder, more durable pellet? Or, do you need to add weight to a vegetable seed, so it can’t be carried away by the wind when seeding?

If you want to add color to the seed, what color should you choose, how shiny do you want it and why? Do you want to add micronutrients to the seed to help it grow faster and stronger? In short, what value do you want to add to the seed?

By spending time devising the seed’s characteristics, you will develop a unique product for the marketplace.

A useful tool to help you make one-of-a-kind products is a sophisticated seed coater. By owning your own equipment and finishing your product in-house, you have creative control over your goods—and the sky is truly the limit for your market development.

If you process your seed in-house, you can decide how to develop the value of your product. You also have control over processing and delivery schedules. Your seed processing costs will be lower, and you’ll experience increased efficiencies.

In addition, you will own your equipment, seed processing methods and recipes, and there is a high and rapid return on investment. At NoroGard, we see the future in seed innovations and now also provide the knowledge and expertise required to train your staff on site and to develop methods and recipes for your unique products.

With these tools to hand, you can make the most of your product and create a seed no one can say no to.

Seed Certifications will save you money, and this is why

More than 60% of the world’s population is relying on the agriculture industry for survival. Which means that its technological advancements have been a significant contributor toward better living standards and personal interdependence and making the world a better place. These technological innovations include automated…