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Teamwork and focus: secrets behind Syngenta Seed Care's path to the top.

Syngenta is known for a lot of things in addition to its rich portfolio of quality brands, including its dedication to research and development and customer-focused sales force. Its seed treatment product line up is something else that has captured the attention of many in the industry, especially over the last several years.

Although the official seed treatment business unit was not formed until 1993 with the legacy company Ciba, Syngenta seed treatments have been on the market since 1979 when Concep[R] was introduced as the first sorghum seed safener from Ciba Geigy, the legacy company at the time. The history of product innovation continued through the Novartis days and has quickly picked up the pace since Syngenta was formed in 2001.

Many things have changed in the last 20 or so years since the seed treatment group consisted of two persons selling a limited portfolio of three compounds. One of those original team members is David Winston, Midwest District Sales and Channel Manager for Syngenta Seed Care. While Winston will not attest to being the oldest team member, he could be considered the wisest in terms of what makes this group tick. Having been with the Syngenta Seed Care group for longer than any of the other current team members, he certainly has insight like no other. He started as a Sales Rep in 1985, and now manages a team of ten who focus their efforts on growing their seed company customer base as, well as, converting the few who are not selling Syngenta seed treatments and expanding retail application sites.

"When I think back to the beginning of my tenure with the seed treatment group, on the one hand it's hard to believe we've accomplished so much so fast," says Winston. "On the other hand, I knew we were destined for great things because of the people in place and the up-and-coming chemistries in the pipeline at the time."


Today Syngenta offers seed treatment solutions for every major commodity crop and most specialty markets. Over the last 25 years the product portfolio has grown from Concep to almost a dozen active ingredients, including the first-ever seed treatment nematicide.

"There really isn't a market we don't play in," says Winston. "The introduction of AVICTA[R] Complete Pak is a testament to our pursuit and commitment to offering unique, new brands and expanding opportunities with existing brands."

In 2005, Syngenta invested $800 million in research and development efforts. It is no wonder the company has spearheaded so many successful product launches and has emerged as a leader in the seed treatment industry. With the trends toward earlier planting dates, reduced tillage and increasing seed value, the seed treatment market has really exploded in recent years. Syngenta has been able to outpace the market and bring well-tested brands to all types of growers. Most recently cotton growers have benefited from the introduction of the state-of-the-art product AVICTA Complete Pak.

A combination of separately registered products--AVICTA seed treatment nematicide, Cruiser[R] seed treatment insecticide and Dynasty CST[R] seed-delivered fungicide--AVICTA Complete Pak offers complete early-season protection against the most damaging cotton pests. Its merits have led to it becoming the largest product launch in the history of Syngenta seed treatments. It comes on the heels of the highly successful launch of CruiserMaxx Beans, which was introduced for the 2005 growing season as the first systemic seed treatment insecticide and fungicide combination for use on soybeans.

"Having executed the two biggest seed treatment product launches in our history two years in a row is just a great feeling, and very motivating for the future," adds Winston. "The birth of Syngenta was a major turning point for our business. That same year we received registration for Cruiser, which really set the stage for continued success as seen with CruiserMaxx Beans and AVICTA Complete Pak, both of which contain Cruiser."

Launched globally in 1997 and introduced in the U.S. in 2001, Cruiser seed treatment insecticide quickly became--and remains--a top choice for protecting young plants in all of its registered crop areas, which include cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat, sunflowers, sorghum and potatoes. However, the success Syngenta has seen with its seed treatment fungicides should not be discounted as they are known to be among the best across a variety of crops.


Taking into account both fungicides and insecticides, Syngenta seed treatments are applied to approximately 95% of corn seed in the U.S. With CruiserMaxx Beans used on roughly 4.5 million acres in just its second year on the market and AVICTA Complete Pak gaining an impressive market share of the cotton nematode segment in its first year of use, Syngenta obviously has a solid recipe for success.

"We truly function and perform as a team. Everyone offers his or her strengths and expertise and every single one of us is driven to be the best," says Winston. "Our success is a combination of all facets of our business. The process starts with a great chemistry and the research to back it. We rely on our scientists to deliver the best compounds, and our researchers to determine the optimum application rates and formulations that are user-friendly. Then our marketing leads determine the most advantageous direction for taking it to market and promoting the product, our public relations and advertising partners serve as the mouthpiece to the industry, and finally our sales people take the messages directly to the customer."

The history of Syngenta is marked with milestones that are not just company benchmarks but industry breakthroughs as well (see "Milestones Achieved Throughout the History of Syngenta Seed Treatments"). Its products and innovations set the bar high and consistently challenge competitors, the true test of a leader.

The once small team of three salesmen today is made up of more than 40 employees dedicated to bringing convenient and effective seed treatments to growers. "Syngenta will continue to offer quality solutions for protecting the genetic yield potential of seed," says Winston. "Our goal is to help our customers help their customers. The bottom line is to ultimately benefit the grower."

Back when the seed treatment business unit originally was founded, the objective of the group was to build direct relationships with seed companies and distributors. Of course, this objective was not only accomplished but also was exceeded with sights being set on bigger and broader results.

So, what's next for this seed treatment powerhouse? In the near future, the label for AVICTA may be expanded into other crop areas. Syngenta is already testing it in corn and soybeans. Beyond that is still under wraps, but you can bet where there is a true market need and opportunity, Syngenta will provide a strong solution to the marketplace.

"There is no doubt we will continue to be successful because we are never satisfied with the status quo," concludes Winston. "We want to make our products obsolete before our competitors do. We don't ever lose sight of being the number one seed treatment business in the world."

"AVICTA Complete Pak is one of the most successful launches in Syngenta history. A totally new product concept was conceived, developed and launched in record time. The brand positioning is unique, and the sales and marketing efforts have supported the concept wonderfully. The uptake of the product in the first year has been exceptional, exceeding all expectations in performance and sales. Performance of the product has been excellent and indications are that we will see a big increase in use during year two. The addition of AVICTA Complete Pak to the Seed treatment portfolio enhances an already strong product line, which has been growing at double digit rates since the formation of the company nearly six years ago."

--Rob Neill, Head of Professional Products, NAFTA


1979--First sorghum seed safener, Concep[R], introduced from Ciba Geigy. Concep III is still the only sorghum seed safener on the market today.

1982--First seed treatment fungicide for downy mildew protection, Apron[R] introduced.

1993--Ciba formed seed treatment business unit.

1994--First broad-spectrum, systemic seed treatment fungicide for cereals, Dividend[R], introduced.

1994--Maxim[R] became the first seed treatment ever to meet the requirements and be labeled "Reduced Risk" by the EPA.

2001--Syngenta formed through Novartis and Zeneca merger.

--Cruiser[R] and Helix[R] brand seed treatment insecticides introduced in the U.S.

2002--Maxim 4FS introduced as the first liquid seed treatment on the market for potatoes.

2003--Cruiser Extreme[R] Pak introduced as the first insecticide/fungicide seed treatment combination for corn, including Dynasty.

2004--CruiserMaxx[TM] Pak, which contained the first systemic seed treatment insecticide, introduced to the soybean market. At the time, it was the biggest seed treatment product launch in the company's history.

2006--First seed treatment nematicide introduced as part of AVICTA[R] Complete Pak for cotton. This surpassed the launch of CruiserMaxx Pak to take the title of the largest seed treatment product launch in the company's history.
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Title Annotation:PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
Author:Moore, Stephanie
Publication:Agri Marketing
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Previous Article:Reports from the field.
Next Article:Key partners assure the product's successful launch.

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