Sowing A New World Harvest

With 20 years of marketing genius behind him, Arnold Donald is leading the Monsanto Co. into the agriculture biotech future

heading Monsanto’s lawn and garden business. When Ortho Products strong- armed competitors Du pont and Dow Chemical out of the lawn and garden business, Donald saw an opportunity, “All the other companies were trying to be like Ortho with its huge marketing plans and retailing shelves and display racks, but they failed. Because we only had one product–Roundup–we couldn’t concentrate on the retail space. We had to create a greater demand with the consumer,” he says.

That meant implementing more direct marketing techniques such as point of purchase promotions and media advertising campaigns designed to heighten brand awareness. “Ortho had some 300 sales reps and we had seven to cover the whole country. We invested all our costs into creating demand and outsold Ortho in herbicides our first year.” Not only had Monsanto thwarted the competition, it turned around and acquired it from Chevron Oil in 1993. From 1988-92, Donald increased the unit’s revenues fivefold from $40 million to $200 million in retail dollars.

In 1993, after several executive promotions which included a management post in Canada, he was named l group vice president for I North America. A year later, Donald’s position l was expanded to include Latin America. When Monsanto streamlined its agricultural business into four units in 1995, he was tapped to head the crop protection unit.

In that role, Donald directed Monsanto’s worldwide agricultural crops business and lead the development, production and marketing of herbicides and some of the company’s early biotech product offerings. He worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create guidelines for Monsanto products. “Public acceptance is of the utmost importance to us, and we have to continue to prove that we are responsible and capable participants in this new era of agriculture,” says Donald.

His crown jewel, Roundup, is a glyphosate-based, environmentally friendly product that prevents weeds from producing an essential enzyme needed to survive. “A very large use of it is through a process called conservation tillage. Weeds are killed and farmers plow less, minimizing topsoil loss and increasing productivity,” says Donald. The firebrand success of Roundup has generated a 20% increase in sales annually, to the tune of an estimated $2.5 billion in 1996.

As the U.S. patents for Roundup near expiration in the year 2000, Monsanto is increasing its production capacity and process technology. It faces continued generic competition both here and outside the U.S. from firms such as Zeneca.

But Donald is not worried. Monsanto’s patent outside the U.S. for Roundup expired in 1985 and generic competition has not been a serious threat to the bottom line, despite the fact that most of Monsanto’s profits and customers are located abroad. On the road at least half the year, Arnold must meet with clients and staff from Bombay to Brussels. With more than 50 R&D products in the pipeline, Donald foresees Monsanto’s continued rapid entry of biotechnology-based solutions for pest control. The first of those products, which included Bollgard insect-protected cotton and Roundup Ready soybeans, were

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