Thirty years ago, e-commerce was not contemplated. Today, the e-commerce dialogue is front and center, and growing exponentially. A partnership of independent and cooperative Ag retailers is embracing this as an opportunity…but “won’t we be risking our bricks and mortar, legacy operations?” “No sir, we’ll be strengthening our offerings and time does not wait. We owe it to farmers to do it today!”
At Twin State, a +60-year family company in Iowa, we studied the realities of our industry, farm communities, and evolving software applications; and found a three-legged stool. Demographics: an aging group of farmers transitioning their responsibilities to the “next” generation. Operations: the average number of acres farmed per operation continues to grow, as does their ownership in self-propelled sprayers. Technology: whether via phone or home computer, rural internet usage is expanding. Information and price discovery have become readily available and improved users’ time efficiency. When viewed from the lens of other retail tracks, was impossible to discount the growth potential of eCommerce in the agriculture sector. Twin State has never lived in the past: we have always pushed for the ever-changing improvements the future can bring to agriculture.
In June 2018, a group of seven CEOs, representing seven Midwestern states, were gathered outside Indianapolis by a team from The Equity (Effingham, IL). By the end of the two days, CommoditAg had started to fly. This initial group shared one common outlook regarding agriculture’s entrance into eCommerce: SIZE and LOGISTICS matter… Amazon has proven this better than anyone. Size (purchasing qualities = power) provides CommoditAg with the opportunity to sit at the table with manufacturers, especially given during periods of challenging markets and weather, to negotiate superior pricing. Legacy brick and mortar facilities provide storage and proximity, dramatically simplifying the logistical options and efficiencies, to the benefit of our customers.
All the partners bring a unique expertise beneficial to CommoditAg and the grower. Twin State logistically represents eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois, and brings the ability to contribute technical expertise in the area of e-commerce. Others bring talents such as knowledge of the manufacturers (procurement), inventory management, Ag financing, and agronomics – all focused on driving the economics down by taking out “middle-men” and needless duplication of infrastructure. Completely uncharacteristic of Silicon Valley, through the use of technology and experienced Ag retailers, CommoditAg is set to operate with only four full-time employees while servicing multi-millions worth of products to the farm. This is our tangible definition of “pass through efficiencies” for the farm.
CommoditAg is the most exciting, simplistic opportunity I have seen in 30 years for agriculture. There are no worries about the weather. There is no “pie sky, blue sky.” It is not an equipment thing. Geographically, huge potential. Scale-able, absolutely. Simple, straightforward, easy to understand – yes. Potentially explosive – yep.
The partners of CommoditAg have combined to provide an organization with hundreds of years of experience and a ready built infrastructure that is efficient, convenient, cost -effective, and highly reputable in the eyes of farmers. Guess what?
Scott Tinsman is COO of Twin State, Inc and an integral part of its Liqui-Grow brand of fertilizers. He is also Chairman of Rock River Lumber and Grain, CEO of Sivyer Steel Castings, LLC, a managing partner of Twin State Technical Services. Prior to joining the family business, Twin State Inc, in 1989, Scott was employed by IBM first as a Facilities Engineer for Robotics and then as a Large Systems Sales Representative; and an equipment leasing agent.
Active in his community, he is a past president and former board member of the Bettendorf Community School District, the Vera French Foundation, Vera French Mental Health Center, and The Fertilizer Institute (Washington, DC). He is a current trustee for The Nature Conservancy –Iowa Chapter (Des Moines) and a board member of the Quad Cities Community Foundation. Along with having sat on various committees for Genesis Health Systems and Two Rivers YMCA over the years.
Scott is a graduate of Northwestern University, B.S. of Industrial Engineering; and a lifetime resident of Bettendorf, IA, where he continues to live with his wife, Beth. They have 3 grown sons.