Gregg: I’m Gregg Sauder with 360 Yield Center.
Mike Lessiter: Thanks for joining us here today, Gregg. First off, how you would define what 360 Yield Center does?
Gregg: My 360 Yield Center is all about nitrogen. We spent our life in planter and planter attachments and when we made that switch and we started 360 Yield Center, we knew that nutrient by plant was where the future’s going to be. And so, we based all of our technology and engineering efforts around nitrogen. Without question, water probably first for yield, and then nitrogen comes right in behind that. It’s a high input and, at the same time it can have a tremendous impact on yield. So that’s where we really focus. We key in on it, and we really hone in on that area.
Mike: Tell me about the start of your business on the supply side, going back to 1993 when you and your wife started the first company.
Gregg: You know, we’ve been fortunate, and I’ll just say this, it’s not easy to start over. A lot of times I think we think “oh we’ll just do it again. Precision Planting … we had a great team of individuals.” You’ll quickly learn when you’re in business it’s never about yourself; it’s about the team that surrounds you. We had a really good, solid team. We built up quite a following of distributors. Thru distribution our dealer network is tops, unmatched.
So, when we started 360 it’s – with the agreements and stuff that we had - there was a 5-year non-compete in there that makes it really hard. Handcuffs come off on June 21 so that’s been a lot of fun. We’re back, free to move in any direction we want to move.
So, the challenge was we started in 1993 from the ground up. We’re a farm family. We didn’t have a lot of resources and we just built it one step at a time from the ground up. When I started 360 I said, “you know I don’t have all that much more time,” and we kind of started from the top down, the opposite side. We went out and found the right talent and we brought them in and it’s been very successful for us. It’s a different approach. At the same time then, you’ll have some turnover because when you bring in that kind of talent, everybody is looking to bring those kinds of people on their team. So, there’s been some movement back and forth, but at the same time it’s been a real pleasure.
I enjoy the challenge to get it where it needs to be. The end result is the same. We bring technology to help farm families get better. I am driven to help young farm couples be successful in farming. So, to do that you need technology that’s simple but very effective. In other words, you got to price it right, but it has to be able to have a good outcome. You have to be able to move the needle on yield, and if you can do that and change their profit schedule, you’re going to be in the driver’s seat. So, a lot of our … far as our moving of dealers, a lot of those same dealers come on board with us. It’s been a real pleasure to work with them. We have a great relationship with them, so it’s been a lot of fun.
Mike: So this was 5 years ago when Precision Planting was sold, correct?
Gregg: That’s right.
Mike: So, a lot of people could have said, “this is the dream, this is to – the cash it out. Could have gone, put your feet up on a beach somewhere.” Tell us about why you did what you did next.
Gregg: I hear that all the time and we’re probably working harder now than we’ve ever worked in our lives, and I felt like we were pretty busy before. We have a lot of different entities. I mean we have a pretty good size farming operation. We have farm ground in 3 different states; Illinois is about 6500 acres that we really key in. Almost all those acres are research, which is a lot of fun. That’s where it really starts. Obviously, we have a dairy. Plus we have 7 children and all the children are involved. All of our kids are involved with us in business in one aspect or another. Whether that’s on the farming side, in the 360 side or the dairy side. So that’s what Cindy and I tick for. It was never a question that we’re going to take this income and just relax. It was what can we do, how can we change ag.
You know commodities’ prices are what they are. And you and I quickly learned we can complain about them but we can’t change Chicago Board of Trade. What we can change is how we manage our businesses and how we are willing to change our farming systems, whether that’s in the cover crops or strip-till or no-till or full-till, whatever works for you. And we work with the nation, we work in foreign countries, so people have to adjust. But if they’re frozen in time and they say “you know, Gregg, I have no line of credit to try something different,” I really worry for them.
You have to be willing to adjust within your system and that’s what we’ve always based our business on; education. Education is always the key. We will do meetings here non-stop for 3 days. We’re going to present solutions to the problems. It so happens we believe we have the right solution, but you’re not going to hear us say, “what you need to do is buy a bullet ripper point, or fill-in-the-blank.” We’re saying, “we believe this is what is happening in the corn field. Here would be a solution to it.” So, that’s how we always base all of our promotion is on educational seminars and we work that angle of it.