Frank Laubert, Global Head of SeedGrowth Centers at Bayer, explains why and how the company has considerably increased the number of training sessions it runs.
Why is it so important to have a global SeedGrowth service network?
Frank Laubert: “The SeedGrowth business has grown substantially in the past years – especially in regions like Latin America – making it more and more important to have facilities close to the customer. To do everything out of Monheim is logistically challenging, if not impossible.”
Can you give a specific example of how customers benefit from your service?
Frank Laubert: “Training sessions are one of the most important aspects of our work. Before we established this network, we had to fly people in from all over the globe to train them at our headquarters in Monheim. For instance, only around ten people from Brazil could attend our training courses, and expensive logistics were involved. After we set up a SeedGrowth Center in Brazil, we were able to train up to 700 people per year, showing them how to operate a treater and apply our products correctly.”
How big is the global SeedGrowth Service Center network?
Frank Laubert: “Our SeedGrowth Centers are located in key territories around the world, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa and the UK, and bring our services to as many customers as possible, ensuring they get what they need to fulfil the genetic potential of their seeds.”
What forms of training do customers ask for the most?
Frank Laubert: “Our comprehensive customer service portfolio includes customer interface, training, troubleshooting, equipment support, assessment schemes, business development, targeted R&D and product stewardship. This is exactly what our customers ask for – and what we offer them.”
How have your customers’ needs changed in recent years?
Frank Laubert: “Depending on the geography and locally offered product portfolio, needs can vary significantly. In LATAM, for example, there are numerous batch treaters (originally provided by the SeedGrowth centers in Argentina and Brazil) focusing on treatment of mainly soybean but also corn at customer level. So there is still a high need for professional equipment after-sales service and associated troubleshooting as well as application training.
In EMEA, there is less need for this specific type of training. There are fewer insecticidal seed treatments compared to the past (due to product divestments or suspensions), and treatment recipes have become less complex in recent years, meaning there is not quite as much need for loading analysis or overall treatment quality support. However, with new products being launched (such as Buteo® Start / Scenic Gold® in OSR), I can see demand rising again soon. And stewardship in general, with a focus on dust reduction and safety for operators and the environment, is increasing from year to year.”
How many people have been trained during the last five years in SeedGrowth Centers?
Frank Laubert: “It’s hard to give an exact number – it depends whether you count a visitor group looking for general information on product features and stewardship measures, or when we speak to seed treatment managers and staff expecting a deep dive into application issues, or when we deliver an entire training plan on all the related topics. In Monheim, for instance, in recent times we have welcomed a pretty steady number of approximately 500 visitors each year. Out of this I would expect around 20% to receive a deep dive into a certain subject, or even an entire one- or two-day training session. In 2020 and up to now, of course, visitor numbers have plummeted due to the pandemic, but we were still able to support our customers very well virtually if needed.”
Do you plan to expand the network any further?
Frank Laubert: “Right now, the ten SeedGrowth Centers help us support our customers around the globe in the best possible way. Additionally, we are scaling up our digital offering so partners can benefit from training and support in an on-demand, remote manner. So the future is exciting for us. It’s worth staying tuned.”