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Gregg Sauder’s Take on Precision Planting, John Deere Deal

This week, John Deere announced its plan to acquire Precision Planting. Following the news, Agriculture.com had an opportunity to discuss the acquisition with Gregg Sauder, the founder of Precision Planting who sold the company to Monsanto back in 2012.

“I think it’s good for the American farmer, says Sauder. “I really do.”

Agriculture.com: How do you feel about John Deere acquiring Precision Planting?
Sauder: I can’t think of a better compliment than Deere wanting to own the Precision Planting team. It makes a lot of sense to me. When Monsanto first purchased Precision Planting, there was a direct vision of what we were going to do. And once they purchased Climate Corporation, it took a different turn more toward data. The partnership with Deere makes a lot of sense to me.

I’m excited for the Precision team. I think Deere will take really good care of them. I’m proud of what they were able to do over the years and that now they are valued enough that Deere wants to own the team.

From what I’ve heard, Deere is going to honor Precision Planting’s agreements with Case IH and AGCO. I think that’s fantastic. That puts every farmer in a good place.
Editor’s note: Precision Planting has an agreement with Case IH and AGCO to supply technology to the company’s planter lines.

Agriculture.com: Precision Planting was known for its ability to bring innovative, yet practical, products to the market very quickly. Will Precision Planting be able to maintain this culture under John Deere?
Sauder: If Deere tries to bring too much in-house, I think they’ll ruin the innovation and culture we created. We had a tremendous culture of speed and innovation. I aimed to bring out two to three new products a year and have them in the sweet spot where they would perform for growers. I’ve seen that back off some. When Monsanto took over Precision Planting, there was not that passion. You just didn’t see that drive like an entrepreneurial inventor has to get the product right and bring it out quickly.

John Deere isn’t going to be fast because they are an OEM, and they don’t have that ability. I think that’s a little bit of the draw of Precision Planting for John Deere. Can we get this team and hopefully without changing the culture, can we become extremely innovative and fast? It will be fun to watch.

Agriculture.com: In addition to innovative products, Precision Planting also focused on products with a quick ROI. What needs to be done to maintain this focus moving forward?
Sauder: That’s going to be the best challenge Deere has. My passion and desire was to bring a product to the market and price it so that within half the planting or growing season, a farmer could recapture the value of the product. And for the second half, the farmer would make money. That was always our guide.

John Deere is a much larger company. If they can keep Precision Planting a separate entity and put in leadership that doesn’t slow down the innovation, that will be fun to see. Can they get fast? Will we see prices start to change? Those are going to be the challenges they have.

 

Update:
Precision Planting will honor its long-term agreement with Case IH to supply planter components, according to Case IH rep Dan Danford.

Learn more about Sauder and his new company, 360 Yield Center.
 

 

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