The Canadian Agri-Marketing Association (CAMA) has named Sanford Gleddie, vice president of marketing for Philom Bios Inc., Agri-Marketer of the Year for 2000. Gleddie’s accomplishments, leadership, innovative marketing and problem-solving skills have been the primary reasons Philom Bios, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has evolved into a leading inoculant company.
One of Gleddie’s unique abilities is taking a strong scientific background and adapting it to relevant marketing strategies. The result has been a straightforward factual marketing approach that has been well received by the farming community and distributors.
Gleddie joined Philom Bios in 1988 after working with Elanco as a field research assistant. As Philom Bios’ research agronomist, he led the way in Western Canadian inoculant research and commercialization. His work has resulted in numerous publications, patents and product launches.
For instance, during his 12-year tenure with Philom Bios, the company registered BioMal, the first bio-herbicide to be registered in Canada. The company also registered JumpStart, the first commercial phosphate inoculant in the world.
Gleddie’s work on combining two microbial inoculants into one product led to the patenting of this novel platform technology and successful launch of one of the most exciting new products for pulse growers in years, TagTeam, a nitrogen and phosphate inoculant.
Gleddie also was responsible for developing a leading-edge global market assessment process. This process has assisted not only Philom Bios, but also Dow AgroSciences and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in assessing new product and market opportunities.
Over the years, Gleddie has grown with Philom Bios, and he moved from research to marketing. When Dow AgroSciences and Philom Bios dissolved their partnership in 1996, Gleddie assumed responsibilities for overall marketing and sales. His new role required him to develop a marketing and sales team from scratch and reposition Philom Bios’ products in the marketplace. The task was enormous. His key accomplishments include:
• Since 1997, Philom Bios’ revenue has grown 83 percent.
• Since 1997, on-the-ground acres of Philom Bios products have grown by 63 percent a year.
• Market share of the company’s peat-based pulse crop inoculants has increased by more than 350 percent since 1996.
Overall, Gleddie’s efforts have resulted in moving the inoculant industry from a commodity-type business to a branded business. Prior to 1996, less than 50 percent of pulse farmers could name any inoculant brand. In 2000, each of Philom Bios’ inoculant brands was recognized by more than half of these farmers.
Gleddie is recognized as one of Canada’s leaders in inoculant technology in his work as a researcher and a marketer. He serves as a director for the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists and is active in numerous other seed industry-related associations.
When Gleddie took over marketing and sales responsibilities in 1996, Philom Bios’ phosphate inoculant was positioned as a product that had broad application for all farmers. Gleddie developed a different philosophy, called "Solutions: One-to-One."
The Solutions approach considers each farmer to be a unique individual and recognizes that not every farmer should use the company’s phosphate inoculant. Rather, the marketing approach was to determine the individual customer’s unique needs and then make an appropriate recommendation for inoculation, even if it meant recommending the farmer not use the product. This honest, straightforward approach proved to be very successful in turning around the business.
Another innovative approached developed by Gleddie was to fully integrate Philom Bios’ marketing and sales roles into one seamless group. The approach has proved very successful, as all members of the company’s marketing group contribute to the planning process.
While Gleddie’s marketing accomplishments have had a direct impact on Philom Bios’ success, they’ve also helped the inoculant industry and agri-marketing industry as a whole. By putting the customer first, he’s helped shift the focus from bottom-line-driven marketing to farmer-driven marketing. His marketing efforts have given inoculants a credible place in agribusiness and set a higher standard for all marketers.
Sponsor: Cormark Communications Inc.