Thompsons Ltd

Enhancing Agricultural Developments and Defending Small Farmers
Written by: 
Dale J Rappaneau Jr.
Produced by: 
Forrest Lancaster

Spiraling toward a centennial anniversary, Thompsons Ltd (Thompsons) has continued to improve the agricultural services and supplies industry since its founding in 1924. Specifically, Thompsons specializes in the distribution of corn, soybeans, wheat and dry beans, as well as ensuring farmers have the necessary tools to produce and grow successful crops.

At the forefront of the company is Dawn Betancourt, president of Thompsons, who previously worked for 27 years at The Andersons Inc., a diversified agribusiness established in 1947. In 2013, The Andersons Inc. and Lansing Trade Group LLC entered into an agreement to purchase Thompsons. After the purchase, Betancourt became interim president of Thompsons, and in October 2013 she became president of Thompsons.

“Thompsons is prevalent in all commodity markets, whether that is corn, wheat or beans,” explains Betancourt. “If we can participate and add value to products and services in the agriculture space, that’s what we want to do. Thompsons’ goal is to grow that business through long lasting relationships, excellent customer service and great market intelligence.”

She goes on to note that specialty products were the claim to fame in the old days. “We are making that platform stronger, as well,” Betancourt continues. “Under the new leadership, we are working to be risk management partners with local farmers, validating profit and creating value for them.”

Helping local farmers with risk management translates into helping the clients that rely on the company’s products and services, while also pushing forward Thompsons’ mission of enhancing the non-GMO market. It’s essentially a win-win for both the clients and the company.

“The company is much the same as it was before the purchase,” says Betancourt, “But with aspirations for differentiation within the marketplace. We still buy grain and sell crop inputs from and to producers and small commercial individuals, as well as trade with other elevators, but we’re also acquiring experts within various fields of the industry. For example, we are hiring and training dedicated individuals to focus on grain originations, and advanced agronomy solutions.”

Enhancing Agriculture

While the agricultural supplies and service side of the company is the primary focus, Thompsons continues to find ways in which to enhance the agriculture industry as a whole. The company currently features a lengthy list of precision agriculture services aimed at providing farmers with the tools to make better, more informed, decisions. This compliments the company’s retail fertilizer, seed and crop nutrient business, offering affordable possibilities for producers. Moreover, Thompsons also owns a drone for checking crop quality and acquiring in season data.

“We have facilities designed to help take care of farmers in each part of our territory,” says Betancourt. “And we’re moving away from the jack-of-all-trades idea, to having specialists in each field so as to add focus. We really want to add professional value to each agricultural field.”

The agriculture industry continues to evolve with each passing year, and Thompsons seeks to stand ahead of the competition by creating an environment where producers, commercials, suppliers and end-users are all working in tandem. From providing farmers with services, to bringing professionals into the industry, everything about the company is now designed to ensure success over the coming years.

Currently the company has its sights set on expanding into more international markets and larger companies, yet the growth really depends on how grain and fertilizer markets hold. If things pan out the way Betancourt hopes, Thompsons will be positioned perfectly for expansion. “We want the right opportunity, at the right time,” she says.

New Leaders, New Leads

Bringing in Betancourt as the new leader of the company has helped give Thompsons a boost toward a new direction: expanded services, more facility locations and additional assistance given to farmers. Even more importantly, though, Betancourt brings to the table an analytical eye toward business and a wealth of agribusiness knowledge.

“Enhancing agricultural solutions is now a huge part of our business model,” says Betancourt. “We’ve looked seriously into new markets overseas, because ultimately it’s a world market and farmers are farmers and people are people, so it’s not a huge change moving from the United States to Canada.”

For a company that now owns 12 elevators, 11 retail farm centers, two seed processing plants, five bean processing plants and a wheat processing plant, Thompsons certainly has the solid enough foundation to ensure company success in new markets. Plus, from her years with The Andersons Inc., Betancourt knows all too well about bringing an agricultural business to a new level.

“Our future has a very bright outlook,” says Betancourt. “I’m excited for some very big things coming to light soon.”

For a company close to celebrating the 100-year mark, Thompsons Ltd has already proven itself capable of defining international developments of the agricultural industries, and now, with new ownership in the mix, that development is sure to last well past the centennial anniversary just around the corner.

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