Sometimes, change doesn’t feel that different
It’s been about 90 days since the Acuity acquisition announcement. Since then, the Fast and Acuity teams have been tirelessly working to maintain customer flow while getting to know each other and making a plan for the next 90, 120 and 365 days. Gregg BeVier, COO of Sexing Technologies and CEO Fast Genetics, Clint Schwab, President of Acuity, and Shannon Meyers, COO at Fast Genetics all sat down and provided a non-scripted, candid update on what’s been happening behind the scenes.
What has surprised you the most in the first 90 days of the two companies working together?
Clint: I think one thing that I’ve been reiterating to both internal teams and externally in conversations is that it feels like we’ve been at this a lot longer than we have.
Gregg: One of the things that has surprised me during this early period is how the values at Fast Genetics — innovation, respect, operational excellence and integrity — were nearly identical to Acuity’s. We didn’t necessarily know that going in, but it was almost like we’d copied them from each other. Why does that matter? I always say that integrity is core to what we do. If you’re an animal health company and you make a product promise, the customer knows quickly if that promise is real. With genetics, it’s different, the improvement is years in the making. Integrity has to be in our DNA.
Shannon: I think that is reflected in how similar the team feels. We seem to have the same cultural beliefs and values, yes, but we all seem to have the same intent: driving customer value.
What excites you the most from what you’ve been learning?
Clint: We’ve been able to see where our teams mesh, but also our technologies. Now what does that mean — competencies of team members and strengths in our spaces, yes — but, more pragmatically, in the areas that matter: the toolbox we use to deliver.
Gregg: We’ve been very aware of what we’ve got in front of us, complimentary product lines, a technology toolbox as Clint calls it that is now even larger, and customers that want what we have to offer. What we also know: we know we still need to expand our distribution channels. Now, we want to be responsible about it, but we know that we’re ready for a broad infrastructure to take advantage of what we’ve brought together.
Shannon: Yes, we know our infrastructure is ready for what’s next. We’ve had the customers ask and we’ve certainly started expanding into geographies neither of us were in previously, but we’re looking to continue that. We’re not waiting to talk about it for two years, though. We’re moving swiftly forward. As long as we’re doing the right thing for the customer and bringing value — then I think we’re doing it right.
Gregg: There’s no analysis paralysis, we’re moving the ball forward.
Clint: The collaboration has helped that, too. We’re focused not only on the big question everyone has — what the germplasm and the traits we select for will look like — but the things that make it work: getting it into the customer’s hands faster, whether that’s through sex-sorted sperm, genotyping, or other precision technologies, and helping to mitigate risk through validation. And that’s through things like the pristine health profile that Fast brought to the table and the Commercial Test Herd Acuity brought, we’re validating and testing to help mitigate that customer risk.
What’s the key takeaway for you in this first 90 days?
Gregg: Everyone will want to know about the products. We have two companies that came from separate populations, so we have the opportunity to build on a really strong foundation in the future. We haven’t needed to do that yet, because right now, we have complimentary product lines that are available to all customers — a strong maternal and terminal solution certainly.
What’s almost as important I think for a customer is the fact that we’ve had zero turnover. Our senior leadership stayed on both sides, which speaks to what we’re building, but also to the fact that our customers can trust the integrity of the team they’re dealing with as we figure this all out.
Shannon: Yes, everyone will have the question about the germplasm. In two months, we’ll look a lot different in some ways, but from what we’ve found thus far, we’ll look the same in the ways that matter.
We’ll be meeting again at WPX to talk about this new vision. Join us on Thursday, June 9, 10 a.m. Central, in the Acuity / Fast tent located on the east side of the Varied Industries Building to ask questions of the leadership team.