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Q & A: Eric Hansotia, COO of AGCO
Eric Hansotia leads AGCO with more than 25 years of experience in the agricultural equipment industry.
Growing up in Wisconsin and working on his neighbor’s dairy farm gave Hansotia hands-on experience. Some of his first leadership roles came through youth ag organizations.
SF: AGCO is different in the number of brands it maintains compared with several other full-line machinery companies. Explain.
EH: There are different customer groups that have different requirements out of their machines and out of the experience they want. With multiple brands, AGCO can target those segments specifically. One brand can go after segment A and another after segment B. We’re really calibrating both the machinery as well as the overall support and buying experience specific to them. It’s an advantage we have that some of our competitors don’t have, in that they have to try to stretch fewer brands or just one brand across all segments.
SF: Farmers are dealing with a high level of uncertainty – prices, weather, and global trade. What keeps you up at night?
EH: I would start with the challenges our customers are going through. I feel for them. Farmers know that they’ve signed up for a business that is cyclical, has risk in it and some give and take. But recently, there have been many challenges stacked on top of one another. That’s one of the things that occupies a fair bit of my attention and our company’s attention: How can we help our customers deal with these issues?
In the long term, there’s a lot of change going on, not only in our industry but also with technology, digital, and automating of machines.
SF: How is AGCO working to help or
empathize with farmers?
EH: AGCO has a broader solution set than any of our competitors. We have our full lineup of machinery, and we have a grain and protein business. Through GSI, we have protein production systems for both swine and poultry, drying solutions, and seed treatment solutions. We also bought Precision Planting about two years ago.
We look across those solutions, now with Precision Planting, and we know more about the planting operation than pretty much anybody else in the business. This year, planting was severely challenged due to weather. We’re looking at those areas that were most challenged and asking how we help those customers by connecting them with grain-drying solutions in the fall. That shows them our partnership by saying, “Hey, we know an issue that you had in one part of your cropping cycle is going to cause you other issues.” If they’ve planted late, that crop is likely to mature later or be harvested at a higher moisture level. A grain-drying solution may be something that will help them be more effective this year.
SF: What is the next big thing from AGCO?
EH: What I really get excited about is the strategy that’s running through the core of our company.
The Fendt 900 tractor follows the 1000, the most intelligent tractor in the world. The Ideal combine could be the most award-receiving machine in ag. The Momentum planter we launched in South America this spring is collecting data with the latest technology from Precision Planting and has a whole new smart frame concept. There’s Fuse, our remote-monitoring IoT platform. We’re going to launch the new AGCO Connect platform, which is both a customer and dealer portal for people to remotely monitor their machines and optimize how those machines are being used. We’re carrying that same mind-set into our grain and protein business. GrainViz adds intelligence to the grain bin to monitor the properties of the grain inside. It’s about full, smart solutions from end to end through AGCO.
SF: Tell me about someone who has been influential in your ag career.
EH: One person would be my neighboring farmer whom I worked for growing up. I got to learn about farming by working on his farm, and he taught me a lot about the whole industry.
As I went into FFA, my adviser was influential. FFA is not only an agriculture organization; it’s also – and even more so – a leadership organization, developing leadership in young minds. I think both of those people are very pivotal.
Name: Eric Hansotia
Background: Hansotia grew up participating in 4-H, FFA, and Wisconsin Junior Dairymen’s Association. He started his career with John Deere, living both in the U.S. and abroad during his 20 years with the company. Six years ago, Hansotia joined AGCO and now serves as the chief operating officer.
Education: He has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of Iowa.