In early September, a new $1 billion business was formed across the southern U.S. as Agri-AFC, GreenPoint AG, and Tennessee Farmers Cooperative merge their agronomy business into a more expansive GreenPoint Ag.
“We are bringing together three companies which are fairly similar, but we’re also building a company for the long haul,” says CEO of GreenPoint Ag Jeff Blair. “It’s a big opportunity to build something together and deliver tremendous value.”
Blair comes to lead the new 99-location retail and wholesale agronomy business after his most recent role as president of the plant nutrient group at The Andersons.
The GreenPoint Ag name will be carried by the newly formed venture, which stretches across 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas.
Blair says this new business reflects the industry trend of consolidation, while also specifically addressing the three biggest challenges in the agronomy business today:
1. The farm economy has been struggling for the last 5 years. “When the farmer doesn’t make much money, no one in the chain makes much money. We need to help our farmers and member co-ops succeed,” he says.
2. Bring precision ag to bare. “Technology can be used to validate how we help farmers succeed,” Blair explains. “And at the same time, the cost of the machines we use and the scale of those machines, can be maximized with these tools.”
3. Sustainability. “This is our social license to operate. We have to make sure we educate the public on what the farmer does, and we have to make some transitions in how we’ve been farming—while keeping our focus also on profitability.,” Blair says.
“We understand the industry is going through consolidation at every level---farmer, producer, wholesaler, consolidation throughout. This gives the scale to keep up with that,” Blair says. “I think the consolidation is delivering benefits to people. And the businesses who are consolidating are often able to outperform those who are not. Sometimes people merge out of need, desperation---but this isn’t one of those cases. These companies are strong, well run. We can focus on delivering that value to the farmer.”
The new GreenPoint AG will be owned by three parent companies: Alabama Farmers Cooperative, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, and WinField United. The service area will span 11 crops and 28 million acres adding up to more than $1 billion in sales.
“I like the strategic rationale of this company, and I like the regional play. As a southeastern focused company, it gives us good scale and a certain expertise. We can have depth and a more narrow focus, while leveraging our size, scale, and buying power.” he says.
As an example, he shares how the agronomy business will be able to optimize logistics across its wholesale network. Blair also notes technology will be a very important asset for the company as it works to grow from the foundation of investments made by Agri-AFC and GreenPoint Ag. The expertise of those two groups will be tapped as it was an expensive asset to built but is also easily scalable across the new footprint.
As an illustration of how embedded technology is to our everyday he asks, “When was the last time you were 6’ away from your phone on purpose?” And he shares his team will be charged with making technology simple, approachable, transparent and easy to use.
“If it doesn’t make a farmer’s choices simpler, cheaper and faster, we haven’t done our job well. If we do our job right, we’re a company we want people to do business with,” Blair says. “That includes outstanding service and competitive prices. We want to build a farmer focused, service focused, customer focused business.”
Blair believe his new team at GreenPoint Ag is up to the challenges of the industry today. He notes the southern U.S. is one of the most competitive regions with agronomy products and services, but GreenPoint Ag is ready to discuss its value to farmers—to alleviate conversations beyond product to be service focused.
“It’s our hope to deliver on the co-op culture of service,” he says. “And we will bring innovation and focus as we reinvest in the business.”