INSIDERS Who do You Call When Things Hit the Fan?

Who do You Call When Things Hit the Fan?


Ketty Nilsson
Ketty Nilsson
President, NoroGard - Ketty Nilsson has her agricultural roots in southern Sweden, and specialized in chemistry engineering. She started her career as a scientist, but then pursued more technical and business development expertise. After earning a Master in Business Administration, she was recruited as the president of NoroGard where she has been able to combine her scientific background and business savviness. NoroGard has been engineering and manufacturing seed treatment equipment since 1965, with a focus on quality. The average lifetime of a NoroGard seed treater is 20 years. All NoroGard seed treaters are manufactured in Sweden, and seed dressing methods to fit new seed treatment formulations are continuously developed in close collaboration with crop protection companies and universities.

We have the benefit of doing business in growing markets like Asia. As I write this I am in South Korea to install seed coating equipment in five new seed plants for pelletizing.

Seed plants in growing markets often have very little experience with and knowledge of seed coating issues like pelletizing.

It goes like this: The seed company has invested in new equipment and they expect a delivery experience very close to “plug-and-play”. Often, we enter the facility for start-up only to find the seed coater not only uninstalled, but also still waiting in the delivery box on the floor.

We usually try to be helpful to get the wiring completed since we have traveled so far. As soon as the panel is connected, we are set for our start-up. This means that our technician calibrates the machine and makes sure that everything is set.

After that, it’s time to train the designated operator — often an unexperienced but loyal employee who has the trust account to operate this precious investment, but little or no experience in doing so. This person can feel a lot of pressure.

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
What usually happens when we start up the engines is that a lot of people come out for the momentous event — co-workers, office workers, neighbours, and also managers from other seed plants around the country.

We use this occasion as an opportunity to start training the operator in how to build the recipe, add ingredients, and work the machine. Pelletizing is a bit tricky to master, so the first batch often ends up lacking in quality.

This is when things “hit the fan.” The operator often feels some pressure from this, considering a crowd is present to see it. His stress builds up and he can often get discouraged.

In this situation our technician continues to fine-tune the machine and assure everyone this is a normal part of the process.

As soon as the batch of perfect uniform pellets is discharged from the coater, everything changes. We see big smiles that confirm the machine has exceeded all their wildest expectations. Pictures are taken and happy phone calls to management are made.

The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. This is where we explain to the operator how long it’s going take for him to gain expertise and be a professional at his craft. This is also the moment when we announce that NoroGard offers free lifetime support.

That, dear reader, is how we build long-term relationships and grow stronger on the global market.