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Engage Agro: Strengthening strategic cooperation on the supply side with the large crop protection companiesqrcode

Oct. 23, 2017

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Oct. 23, 2017
“We are spending a great deal of time getting our ‘feet stable’ as we prepare to grow. Current products and markets are being reinforced while we are investing heavily in the registration of a number of new compounds in both the U.S. and Canadian markets,” Jos Testers, president of Engage Agro for the United States and Canada, told AgroPages in a recent interview. He also shared his viewpoint on Engage Agro’s general situation, product series and business model and cooperation model, as well as future strategic planning etc.

Q1. Could you briefly introduce the general situation and market position of Engage Agro?

Engage Agro was founded in Canada in 1995 with the sole objective of bringing together large crop protection companies and niche crop producers. The focus is to register and market niche crop protection products licensed from the larger crop protection industry, with a focus on chemistry that was registered in larger markets, but this could also be used in smaller niche markets. Engage Agro Corporation develops, registers, and markets protection, nutritional and management products for plants, turf, agricultural crops, industrial vegetation management and forestry across Canada.

Q2. Could you talk about the focused crops and product series of your company?

Up until 2015, Engage Agro focused largely on products for growers of niche markets, basically everything, but the big row crop markets (corn, soys, cereals, canola). Even with those row crop markets, we had the occasional product that had a small fit. That said, potatoes, tender fruit, tree fruit, vegetables, turf/golf, mushrooms, greenhouse (floriculture and vegetable), and Integrated Vegetation Management were and still are a large focus for us. We have worked with some very unique growers over the last 25 years. Moving forward as a Belchim Crop Protection-owned company, that focus on Horticulture and Specialty Markets will continue. However, we now are also planning to bring technologies to the Row Crop markets.

Q3. What is the business and cooperation model of Engage Agro?

Our business model is basically all about the grower and their needs. Developing products for them that make them more profitable and create more value for them is what we are about. Besides that, our model is to create demand with the grower, but also with the distribution channel. We are not one of the big multinationals, so getting time with the channel can sometimes be a challenge. We keep it simple and personal. Our focus is on good, meaningful and useful products represented by smart people, whose objective is to help growers with their technical challenges.

That keeps us both grounded and relevant. We have been fortunate at Engage Agro to partner on the supply side with many of the large crop protection companies, such as Ciba/Syngenta, Bayer, BASF and on. We also have partnerships with purely R&D companies, such as Nisso, ISK, Mitsui Chemicals, Nichino and several others, who are not directly on the market in our territory. These partnerships have evolved over time, but our value has always been around performance. We are able to get to some of these markets that others are either too big for or that they simply do not have a path to market for.

As we are a national distributor, we will bring our own developed products to the Canadian and American market. In Europe Belchim’s molecules are registered. Products based on those molecules will be very interesting for the USA and Canada.

Q4. What is the strategic significance of Belchim Crop Protection's acquisition of Engage Agro USA?

Engage Agro (both Canada and the USA) have focused largely on the North American market. As the company grew, our people saw challenges on the supply side and knew it needed to partner with a larger, global company. Belchim Crop Protection was and is a perfect fit not only strategically, but also culturally. Strategically, Belchim represents a perfect buyer for Engage USA (and Canada). This firm, which was founded in Belgium, is into its 30th year of business, and has grown from the same kind of roots as Engage. The owner and CEO is driven to succeed and has global relationships on the supply side. He has invested heavily in the acquisition of its own compounds, and is expanding the company’s footprint across the globe. To add to that, the owner, Dirk Putteman, is a wonderful person. He has also surrounded himself with smart and effective people, which is why the cultural fit is so good.

Q5. What do you think of the consolidation of agricultural inputs industry? What are your company’s strategic plans for the near future?

We believe consolidation will bring opportunity for Belchim Crop Protection and Engage. Change is never-ending in this business. With this global round of consolidation, we know there will be product and market opportunities that arise. At the same time, competitors become larger, so we have to become more nimble in finding ways to work with our growers in the markets we serve.

We are spending a great deal of time getting our “feet stable” as we prepare to grow. Current products and markets are being reinforced while we are investing heavily in the registration of a number of new compounds for both the U.S. and Canadian markets. As new registrations are granted, and as we ensure the products we represent fit within global MRL’s and other modern standards, we expect to grow significantly over the next five to 10 years here in North America.

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