AGRILIANCE: THE CROP INPUT SUPPLY POWERHOUSE
by the AgriMarketing editors
Headquartered in the Twin Cities' southern suburb of Inver Grove Heights, MN, Agriliance LLC was formed a short six years ago (see time line, page 11) but its marketplace already includes much of North America. Currently about 70 percent of the company's revenue comes from its wholesale operations, 30 percent from retail operations.
The company ranks as the largest distributor of crop inputs in North America. It distributes and markets
crop nutrients, crop protection products, seed (through Croplan Genetics, the seed brand of Land O'Lakes, Inc.) and related technical services to over 2,200 local cooperatives and independent dealers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In addition, Agriliance sells products and services directly to growers through its 149 company-owned retail facilities, located primarily in the southern United States, and is ranked the fifth largest retailer of crop inputs by CropLife magazine.
Its presence in Canada is through its management of the Agronomy Company of Canada, with 30 retail locations in the eastern part of the country.
Through ProSource One, based in Memphis, TN, Agriliance provides crop protection products, crop nutrients, seed and services to the professional turf, vegetation management, ornamental and nursery, and Florida specialty agriculture markets.
Agriliance employs approximately 2,200 people. Total annual company sales are $3.7 billion, including $1.1 billion of wholesale crop protection products, $1.6 billion of wholesale crop nutrients, $1.0 billion in retail sales and $52 million in agronomy equipment sales.
Agriliance is owned by Land O'Lakes, Inc., and CHS Inc., each owning 50 percent of the company.
MISSION AND VISION
Agriliance CEO George Thornton says, "Our mission is to provide crop production products and services through our distribution system to enhance dealer and grower profitability. Our vision is to be the most customer responsive, operationally efficient crop production products and services distribution system in North America.
"One way we are accomplishing that," Thornton continues, "is our commitment to help dealers strengthen their buying power and improve their local business bottom line through the formation of strategic alliances such as joint ventures or other partnerships. Innovative business agreements throughout the system reduce costs and improve distribution efficiencies."
In 2005, Agriliance initiated an extensive safety awareness and education program, involving every employee from senior management on down. In fact, Thornton's employee phone mail messages always include a safety reminder or reference.
"Safety is priority one," he continues. "We are committed to conducting business in a manner that ensures the safety of our employees, our customers and the communities we serve."
RECRUITING AND TRAINING
Company representatives visit land grant universities across the country, actively recruiting agronomists to work at local cooperatives. These 540 Agronomy Production Specialists (APS) are highly trained experts that producers value for their help in developing crop plans and monitoring crops throughout the growing season.
Agronomy Services training programs are attended by thousands of local agronomists and custom applicators. The popular Answer Plot program, co-sponsored by Agriliance and Croplan Genetics, provides practical hands-on training throughout the growing season in multiple locations across the country. Together with their classroom sessions, curriculum includes all prerequisites to earn Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) status. They tailor on-site programs to meet the special training needs of large dealers and those requesting special environmental or safety programs.
Agriliance's products and services include:
Agriliance's global and domestic supply connections include a deep-water port at Galveston, TX, facilities at Memphis, TN, and 130 other strategically located crop nutrient terminals.
To help dealers secure products while managing fluctuating crop nutrients costs, Agriliance offers Agriliance Exchange, an online site for product supply risk management. Dealers can then manage price risk through trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Agriliance also produces and markets Origin branded micronutrients, and owns RSA, a secondary and micronutrients company serving agriculture and related industries
CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS
Agriliance maintains a world-class wholesale distribution system of more than 50 strategically located Service Centers. These Service Centers communicate with dealers on a daily basis and deliver crop protection products within hours of a customer's request. Agriliance also serves as a key distribution partner for all the major crop protection product manufacturers.
The company also formulates and markets its own crop protection products under the AgriSolutions brand, which include adjuvants, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and seed and grain protectants. Omnium manufacturing facilities in Hampton, IA; St. Joseph, MO; and Blytheville, AR; formulate proprietary crop protection products for Agriliance and other crop protection chemical companies.
Now in its 10th year, the company's Partners In Production (PIP) financing program is available to growers through local cooperatives.
"PIP provides a quick, convenient loan process for producer input purchases with no fees or sign-up costs for dealers," says Mark Clausen, national accounts manager for ProPartners Financial, the company that administers PIP for Agriliance.
Dave Grant, credit manager for Valley Wide Cooperative, Rexburg, ID, says PIP gives his company a competitive edge. "Our competitors tend to offer only 90-day financing options, but with PIP we can offer terms that extend up to 18 months. That helps us develop more customer loyalty and increase sales."
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