Empowering Farmers

Comm 297R Project – Sam Hosac

Project Purpose

For the past three months I’ve been working for J.R. Simplot, one of the nation’s largest potato growers and suppliers of seed, fertilizer, and crop protection to farmers.

One of the challenges facing the agribusiness industry right now, like many other industries, is the rising of interest rates that makes it harder for farmers to afford the supplies they need to grow their crops.

The purpose of my project was to find out if the J.R. Simplot company can help these growers pay for their farming necessities while still remaining profitable. Obviously if the farmers can’t buy Simplot product then we lose business, so the question I had to answer was “Can the Simplot company still make net profits selling seed, fertilizer and crop protection if we subsidize the interest our customers are paying?”

The Project

In order to determine whether or not SGS (Simplot Grower Solutions) can maintain profitability while helping farmers afford our products I conducted a top-to-bottom analysis of Simplot’s private credit programs, including analysis by credit plan, location, and interest rate. I delivered my analysis to the company’s Director of Global Credit and Treasurer in a Power BI dashboard with nine pages that includes everything needed to evaluate and forecast the cost of changing our financing programs.

Using this dashboard, which compiles data from several third-party lenders, the senior leadership of the Credit and Treasury departments will be able to answer any question about the cost of using third-party financing.

Challenges / Setbacks

One of the biggest challenges I faced on this project was the complexity and overall weirdness of the data I had to work with. The dashboard I made had to take data from four different companies, each with their own unique reports, and aggregate it onto a single chart or map. The different numbers and reports each lender uses made it hard to get them all to work together on the same charts.

This is an example of the confusing reports I had to work with to make the dashboard.

Another challenge I faced while doing this project was the fact that SGS, Simplot Grower Solutions, can’t lower its prices next year to compensate for customers’ high interest payments. There are a few reasons for this, but in order to maintain Simplot’s business we had to find another way to lessen the expense on the farmers, other than lowering prices.

The Director of Global Credit, Mike, already had a plan for this, but it was my job to figure out whether it was a realistic way to handle the problem or not. Mike also asked me to present the plan to the Treasurer, FP&A Senior Director, and CFO in a couple weeks.

Project Processes

The main thing that drove the process of this project was deciding what would be the most effective way to communicate my insights to everyone involved. Stakeholders in this project include Sales teams, Treasury Analysts, Credit department, FP&A analysts, and others. Everyone needs to be persuaded that adjusting the company’s credit programs is a good idea, and to do that I needed to figure out how to show everyone that these changes would benefit their department.

I started by making a plan for how I would organize the data and present it, then collecting the data, then analyzing everything in a Power BI dashboard, then presenting the results of my analysis to all the different teams involved.

What I Learned

While working on this project I learned a few useful things that I’ll be able to take into my education and professional life. Presenting to the CFO and Treasurer is pretty different from a school presentation, so I’ve been studying a lot. I’ve been reviewing a lot of the slide design, organization, and storytelling techniques I learned in Public Speaking and Professional Presentation class.