Success in Ag Depends on the Details

Published online: Aug 11, 2020 News Glenn Bertram
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Source: Syngenta Thrive

Margins are tight in the agriculture industry. If a grower wants to stay profitable, it’s important to take an informed, detail-oriented approach to each season. NK retailer Mark Boshart is familiar with that reality. As the owner of Boshart Sales, an independent dealership in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, he visits farms all year long. Wherever he goes, he’s careful to get a full picture of the operation before he makes any recommendations.

“I always do a needs assessment first,” Boshart says. “I want to find out what an operation is about and how the grower makes purchasing decisions. It’s a more effective approach than just jumping out of the pickup truck and asking how much product he or she wants.”

Boshart’s process helps him build positive relationships all over southeast Iowa. It’s a community he knows well; he grew up there, and he still works each day on his family’s third-generation corn and soybean farm. The community knows him, too.

“When people see me — whether it’s in a church pew or on Main Street — they know I’m the guy who knows seeds,” he says. “It helps that Syngenta gives me what I need.”

On the Same Page

Over the course of Boshart’s 40-year career in the ag industry, he’s seen a lot of change. He says Syngenta has helped him respond to that change with a commitment to consistent innovation. He cites the AgriEdge® whole-farm management platform and the company’s deep portfolio as evidence of that commitment.

“Syngenta has steadily brought improvements in genetics and technology to the marketplace,” he says. “When you get the opportunity to take off your coat and sit down to have one-on-one conversations with growers, it really shows.”

Boshart’s partnership with NK sales representative Dale Hewett has been a crucial part of his effort to bring those innovations to the fields of southeast Iowa. Their relationship is built on a shared understanding of how to deliver value to growers. Like Boshart, Hewett doesn’t rush in with solutions before a problem is defined.

“It’s important to get to know the growers and their operations,” Hewett says. “You have to ask them questions to do that. It takes time, but it helps that Mark and I are on the same page. We both believe in paying attention to the details. Our process helps us bring the right recommendations to the table.”

Their approach dates to the early 2000s, when Boshart served as a field sales manager at Syngenta. There, he was part of a three-person team that included Hewett.

“We were learning from each other then, and we’re still learning from each other now, even though we’re on opposite sides of the desk,” Boshart says. “I have the utmost respect for Dale. We work very well together.”

The Value of Expertise

When the time comes to provide a solution, both Hewett and Boshart are able to draw on a wealth of agronomic knowledge. Hewett, who has logged more than 30 years in the industry, regularly travels around the community, showing young retailers the ropes. Boshart has served as a Certified Crop Adviser for 25 years.

“I think that certification carries some respect in the countryside,” Boshart says. “More than ever, growers are looking for expertise. The seed business has gotten very complex. Traits are coming and going, and combinations are moving fast. I’m finding that growers who don’t work with it 365 days out of the year are relying more and more on the retailer to help educate them and help them make the right decisions.”

Boshart’s customers have come to depend on his knowledgeable, honest advice. As a result, he’s earned the trust of multiple generations of farmers.

“I’ve had some long-term customers who have stayed with me throughout my career,” he says. “Those relationships carry over to the next generation of growers. Grandsons and grandfathers can sit across the desk now, as well as fathers and sons.”

That kind of transgenerational bond hits close to home for Boshart in ways that go beyond his family farm. Boshart Sales itself is a family business; he ran it in partnership with his brother and father, until his brother died in a tragic farm accident in 1995 and his father retired in 2010. That experience makes him conscious of just how much a family business can mean in the ag world. He works each day to help his customers find the kind of success that can sustain their operations, allowing them to pass on their farms to future generations. Syngenta stands beside him in that goal.

“I like working with a company that knows innovation and has producers’ best interests in mind,” Boshart says. “I feel good about what I’m doing because of the people I have behind me. I know Dale and Syngenta care about me and my customers.”