This interview details Adept-Ag, an indoor farming technology company based in the United States. The interview is with Graeme Dergousoff, CPA, Vice President, Aftermarket Sales & Support of Adept-Ag.
What is the origin story of Adept-Ag?
AdeptAG is the brainchild of CEO Rick Parod. Rick had a storied career as a leader in agricultural automation, retiring as CEO from Lindsay Corporation after driving revenues through strategic, organic growth, and acquisition initiatives. Customers were underserved, underserviced, and deserved more than they were getting.
Rick chose Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) as a service to the global economy because there are no bigger sociological issues than water scarcity and food insecurity. Not only do these issues have negative effects on health, academic, and economic potential, but the industry developments and innovations have global implications. Amidst climate change and globalization, it became clear that without intervention the industry was paving the way for a predictable and catastrophic collapse.
Fast forward to January 1, 2022, AdeptAg launched with the acquisition of two industry leaders – AgriNomix and Zwart. AgriNomix is a supplier of Dutch and Italian equipment, and an OEM for production automation equipment. Zwart is an OEM of irrigation and water management. Both companies have been heavily involved in CEA, and that trend of bringing more crops indoors is unlikely to slow without changes in consumption by the North American population. In October 2022, AdeptAg completed the acquisition of Bellpark Horticulture, an industry-leading integrator of machine automation solutions from Dutch, Israeli, and German manufacturers. In November 2022, AdeptAg then acquired Plantech Control Systems, Plantech West, and JM Controls & Electric, the best-in-class provider for electrical infrastructure, climate control, and packaging solutions from the Netherlands and Spain.
As with any consumption model, there comes the inevitable issue of supply and demand. While public institutions and broader public outreach initiatives are addressing consumption trends driving demand, AdeptAg serves to revolutionize the way that the market is supplied by making better use of the precious resources we take for granted each day.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing Adept-Ag in the future?
Believe it or not, CEA is not a new technology, technique, or tool for growing. The earliest greenhouses were built in 30AD. Modern North American greenhouses were built in the early 1700’s. Modern greenhouses emerged in Holland in the 1800’s and brought on by the geographical challenges of packing an exceptionally large population into an exceedingly small space laid the foundation for technological innovation in greenhouse development to feed its inhabitants.
For a very long time, growers have grown accustomed to taking what they can get, not getting what they deserve. Growers have very much adopted the farmer mentality of being as self-sufficient as possible, and this has both created a highly talented and skilled group of growers but also fostered an unproductive supply chain distracted from doing what they do best; growing the best of their crop efficiently and effectively. Investment in innovations to mitigate labour shortages are stymied due to several factors that AdeptAg exists to address.
Part of AdeptAg’s mission is to change the way that the industry views CEA from the inside out. AdeptAg’s customers benefit from having a complete solution provider for the foundational components within the four walls of a CEA facility be it a vertical farm, glass greenhouse, poly hoop house, or whatever your controlled environment needs may be. AdeptAg provides in-house engineering, sales, design, and aftermarket sales and support for its customers and the industry in general. All growers can benefit from being AdeptAg customers. Our solutions are prepared with the customer in mind, to achieve their target ROI whether it be for one facility or 100.
What is unique about Adept-Ag compared to competitors?
AdeptAg has an unrivaled team of machine and process engineers, designers, integrators, installers, and service technicians to be the sole North American solution provider for CEA. AdeptAg’s portfolio of suppliers are best-in-class, having passed stringent machine performance criteria before being offered in the marketplace. We live in a day and age where technology from various industries is inappropriately repackaged or repurposed for the benefit of the suppliers, not the consumer. AdeptAg is keenly focused on delivering exactly what CEA growers need and when they need it.
How do you measure the impact of Adept-Ag so far? (Revenue, Employees, Customer Quantity, Production Volume) etc?
AdeptAg consists of market leaders in North America for machine automation, irrigation, and climate control solutions. We have over 250 employees who are all in sync with the mission and values that AdeptAg uses to deliver value to the customer. By assembling these distinct companies, AdeptAg works with all the top produce, ornamental, nursery, forestry, and cannabis growers, in addition to biopharma companies, educational institutions, and vertical farms. We have a strong intake of industry and subject matter experts leading all facets of our engineering, sales, and design teams. We are also working with public education institutions to equip us with skilled entrants to the workforce upon which to assemble our aftermarket sales and support functions to offer unrivaled, local service.
What have you learned that you wish you knew when you joined or started the company?
Since being acquired by AdeptAg and joining their executive team, I wish I knew how strongly the industry was yearning for a higher standard of service. I have always been proud of the expertise our service team brings to the table when encountering new and unusual challenges, but also their ability to identify the value of the people they are working with whether they are maintenance mechanics, machine operators, head growers, or business owners.
As the General Manager of Bellpark Horticulture and the Vice President of Aftermarket Sales and Support for AdeptAg, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give the market and our staff what they deserve. We are growing, and eager to serve all growers in North America. The winds of change have arrived, and the plans are in motion to pave our way to a brighter future as a CEA grower and a participant in this vibrant, exciting, and critical industry.
How can people connect with you or learn more about Adept-Ag?
AdeptAg is currently undertaking several initiatives never before offered in this space. The coming months will be revolutionary in changing the mindset of CEA growers in what they should expect and what they deserve from their partners. Our team is ready to serve you by calling 1-877-ADEPTAG.
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