Managing Director at Radium Engineering, Grant M Roest, gives us insight into the world of agricultural equipment and innovation.
How did Radium grow as an agricultural equipment supplier to become the respected organisation it is today?
We have grown by being able to make immediate decisions. We also operate with the customers as the business centre and have always considered this a service-related industry. By working one on one with the farmer, we eliminate the dealer networks and provide direct service and direct marketing. As well as being innovative by releasing new products, we find gaps and bring out new strategies previously unseen in South Africa.
What made you become a part of the company?
As it is a family business, the thought was always there to become part of the company. But it’s also in my blood. Ever since I was five years old, I was out with my father in the field: working with the equipment, learning about it, understanding the environment. Also, I’ve never been able to choose a specific farming segment to go into. I didn’t only want to work with dairy or beef or crops. By doing what I do now, I am involved in every aspect of agriculture, which is very fun. That’s what made me part of it.
What are the some of the highlights of your tenure?
The company turnaround, watching a business that was almost bankrupted become an absolute gem, was huge. I am a predecessor to my father, and he’s a predecessor to my grandfather, so there’s all that heritage that’s put into the company, and being handed that with all the difficulties it had and being able to turn it around was incredible.
There are so many highlights but what is constantly amazing is just watching incredible equipment revolutionise agriculture or your ideas being put into play, materialise and work. And every time a customer comes back to you saying. “If it wasn’t for that piece of kit, I wouldn’t have pulled through this season.”
Describe the ethos that you believe encompasses Radium Engineering.
Service, service, service. Every single time. Radium Engineering has massive competition and there’re so many products out there. The question always needs to be asked: how do you put yourself one step ahead? Being a family-owned business, you are able to offer something different. You are able to move away from corporate processes and people can receive personal service. Very few companies can offer that today and it’s amazing what results we have gotten from it.
In what ways does Radium Engineering sets itself it apart from its competitors?
We are always one step ahead in the local market. We are definitely trend setters and much more innovative than our competitors. You have to respect competitors as they are also setting milestones all the time so we ask where does Radium sets its own milestones in terms of product. We are an expensive product but with that price comes extensive service, engineering, ingenuity, testing, and crucially, policies embedded in the business that allow for the product to last longer than any other competing product. After the 10-year lifespan many companies give for agricultural equipment, our machines are still running. If there is a problem, we are there to accommodate the farmer by fixing it – the product doesn’t go the scrapyard.
Looking at promotion, we do not outsource our marketing and advertising. We’ve decided to do it in-house and with a phenomenal team, we’ve been able to boost promotion, try new things and not be dictated by what the competition is doing. By doing this, we have now opened ourselves up to new market places.
Can you give us some insight into the future trends of farming in South Africa?
Everyone is looking at Africa as the breadbasket of the world and South Africa is, of course, the window into Africa. Our technologies are so adaptive in terms of local environment. You can see technologies that are not just from Australia and New Zealand, for example in the dairy industry. There is such a good amalgamation of agricultural technologies in the world today. Considering the way farming is done in South Africa and comparing it globally, our technology is improving and we’re getting bigger and better.
This comes with an array of hurdles; we don’t get subsidies like Europe and the US do, we have erratic weather patterns and you never really have an average year – there are either exceptional or bad years. But in terms of innovation, South African farmers don’t hold back and are clever survivors who make a plan every step of the way. It’s our job to support them by supplying equipment to help them improve.