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Editor's Note: Matt Comer joined Gowan Company as marketing manager in 2004. Previously, he spent 15 years with ICI, Zeneca and Syngenta in various marketing positions.

AM: Tell us about Gowan Company.

MC: Yuma, Ariz.-based Gowan Company is a small, family-owned company focused on delivery of crop protection products for specialty crops such as vegetables, nut crops, tree crops and vine crops, as well as specific niches of broad-acre crops such as rice, corn, soybean, sugar cane, grain sorghum and cereals. Gowan is driven to deliver the crop protection products that are critical to producers of these crops. Specialty crops are our core business, and we have built a reputation for developing unique new products and defending crop protection products that are critical to our customers in those crops. Unlike other companies that provide crop protection products, Gowan is entirely focused on niches where the success of the producer is dependent on crop protection tools for sustained, efficient production. In recent years we've demonstrated solid success in defending important products that are critical to our customers - that's why we've become known as the "go to" company.

AM: What are your plans to expand into new geographies and markets?

MC: We recently acquired the triallate herbicide business from Monsanto for pre-emergence weed control in cereals. This acquisition expands our markets into the Midwest and northern Plains regions of the U.S., and into the wheat and barley production areas of Canada. Growers know these products by the brand names Far-Go® and Buckle® in the U.S. and Avadex® and Fortress® in Canada.

In mid-2004 Gowan announced the formation of a long-term partnership with Nissan Chemical Industries Inc. With this partnership, Gowan implements the marketing of important products for broad acre crops such as cereals, corn, soybeans, pulse crops, sorghum, rice, sugarbeets and sugarcane. As a result of this partnership, Gowan has launched the new post-grass brand Targa® in several broadleaf crops including soybeans, sugarbeets, canola, and dry and succulent beans. Gowan will acquire the marketing and sales responsibilities for the halosulfuron products, which our customers know as Permit® and Sempra®, this fall. In addition, Gowan will acquire the marketing and sales responsibilities for Nissan's pyridaben miticide, a popular product in apples and citrus, in 2006.

AM: How do you distribute products?

MC: Because Gowan is entirely focused on the niches of the crop protection business, the company approaches the marketing of its products in a unique manner. Distribution decisions are made regionally with consideration first to the most effective means to reach the producer through the established channel of wholesale distributors and retailers. Further, the local Gowan sales representatives' relationship with their customers is the primary vehicle for training, support and dissemination of information.

AM: How has Gowan's marketing strategy evolved in recent months? Are you now marketing Gowan more aggressively?

MC: Gowan's approach to our customers and the markets they form hasn't changed - we intend to apply the same principles to broad-acre crops as we have applied to specialty crops. Gowan doesn't have the field sales presence of the larger crop protection companies. That means we have to find effective, innovative ways to ensure that growers are aware of our brands, that we clearly communicate the benefits of our brands, and that distributors, retailers and PCAs/agronomists have the information to support our products. We don't view the broad acre crops such as corn, soybeans, cereals, grain sorghum, rice and sugarcane as homogeneous opportunities - we see them as a combination of niche opportunities with similar needs. We intend to work closely with our distributors, retailers, growers and PCAs/agronomists to understand the niches where our brands fit, and to discover the best methods for meeting our customers' needs.

AM: How do you believe marketing in a specialty segment differs from the traditional Midwestern ag chemical market?

MC: The differences lie in the way Gowan performs its business. Being a small, family-owned company, Gowan cannot achieve its objectives through tactics used by other crop protection providers - we have to apply the same principles upon which Gowan has built its business. The basis for marketing our products is straightforward - we want to ensure our customers are clear about the benefits Gowan products bring, we want to develop deep relationships with our customers and we want to continue to deliver differentiated, unique products that are of value to the customer. We believe these principles apply to the niches of all of the markets that Gowan serves. AM

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