A Growing Presence In PGRs

greg_johnsonName: Greg Johnson
Title: President — oversees all sales,
marketing and distribution activities Education: B.S.in business administration
& marketing, Southwest State University
Career: Joined Fine Americas, Inc. in 2004 as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Previously held sales and marketing management positions with Arvesta Corporation, Agridyne Technologies, Inc. and CIBA-GEIGY.

AM: Please provide an overview of Fine Americas’ agricultural products business. How has the business changed over the last five years?

GJ: While our parent company — Fine Holdings Limited – was founded in 1983 in the United Kingdom as a leading supplier of Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) to world markets, Fine Americas, Inc. was established eight years ago to give the company a greater presence in North and South America.
Since then, we have expanded our product line and country registrations dramatically to bring new products into both the agricultural and floriculture markets, including several proprietary technologies. For example, Configure is the only 2% 6-BA plant growth regulator registered for greenhouse ornamentals. And Piccolo 10 XC is the world’s first and only 4% paclobutrazol PGR formulated in a pure liquid formulation, offering ornamental growers unsurpassed performance and convenience.
These newer products and expanded geographic presence, combined with outstanding sales, distributor and technical support, have allowed us to grow our revenues by an average annual rate of 20% over the past eight years. We believe that’s quite an accomplishment in light of the macroeconomic challenges we’ve faced during that period.

AM: What is the business outlook for Fine Americas this year, the next five years?
GJ: I would say the outlook for Fine Americas is very bright, both in the
near term as well as the next five years. Growers in the agricultural and floriculture sectors continue to look for cost-effective ways to increase crop yields and quality, and plant growth regulators will play a vital role in meeting those goals.
In the high-value agricultural market, Fine’s PGRs help growers improve fruit size, shape and color, all important factors in meeting consumer demand for top-quality apples, pears, cherries, grapes and citrus. In the greenhouse ornamental market, our products help growers produce plants with consistent size, shape and quality as well as excellent flowering characteristics.

AM: Where do you see Fine Americas in the future?
GJ: Fine Americas will continue to bring innovative new products and technologies to the agricultural and floriculture markets. Growers in both segments are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their use of plant growth regulators, so we will continue to provide new products to stay one step ahead of the market.
In the greenhouse ornamental market, for example, growers are taking a very sophisticated approach to plant growth regulators by fine-tuning their rates and application procedures to make sure their plants reach specified quality and height parameters by a specified date. Since fruit growers don’t have the same ability to control environmental factors as greenhouse growers, I see them relying more and more on PGRs to improve fruit quality, yields and harvest efficiency.

AM: What new products/services is the company introducing to the ag market?
GJ: We’re set to launch Blush plant growth regulator into the fruit market pending EPA registration. Based on the new and unique active ingredient PDJ, Blush was developed to promote fruit color change in bi-color apple varieties such as Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji. Results from Experimental Use Permit (EUP) trials over the past few seasons have been very promising.
In addition, we will be introducing a number of other new products each year, along with new formulations of many of our existing products to meet market demands and upcoming California EPA guidelines regulating Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emissions.

AM: How are the sales organizations and channel to the marketplace organized?
GJ: We run a lean sales organization in the U.S. and Canada. With that in mind, we rely heavily on our distributor partners throughout North America to provide outstanding sales and service support in their respective geographic areas.
In South America, we work closely with country partners to distribute and support our products.
Finally, we sponsor ongoing testing programs with leading university researchers as a means of constantly improving product performance and expanding product registrations.

AM: What role does marketing communications play at Fine Americas?
GJ: Given the fact we’re outnumbered by our competitors when it comes to actual “boots on the ground,” we rely heavily on marketing communications to reach our target audiences with high-impact sales messages.