PORK Perspectives is a recurring column that provides business and leadership strategy tips from some of the pork industry’s finest. Meet Martin Enderink, Nedap Livestock Management’s global sales director.
Nutritionist, swine consultant, product manager, export manager, commercial manager, commercial director, pig farmer. Martin Enderink, Nedap Livestock Management’s global sales director, says the opportunity to learn from these roles he has held over the years gives him a unique perspective in his role leading a team focused on improving pig performance through technology and innovation.
But he says he couldn’t have done any of these things without a willingness to take a few risks.
“When I was 32, I was offered a job as a commercial director, Asia-Pacific. My wife and I, with a 1 ½-year-old son, got our tickets and flew to Bangkok,” Enderink says. “I was armed with one CD containing a few powerpoint presentations and had to develop the whole region with 17 countries from scratch. Did I know in that moment if I would succeed and was capable?”
His answer? No, he did not.
“You learn a lot when you take those challenges,” he says. “Not taking the safe route, but instead accepting a big challenge at a young age, makes you grow fast.”
Enderink shares his views on leadership strategy and the future of the pork industry with Farm Journal’s PORK.
Q. How did you get your start in the pork industry?
A. I was born on a sow multiplier farm in the Netherlands, not far from Nedap’s office. My father and grandfather farmed together, raising dairy cattle and pigs. In the 1970s, they stopped dairy farming to expand their sow herd. After much discussion with my father, I chose not to take over the family farm and moved on to a different career path. I went on to pursue my education at an agricultural university in the Netherlands focusing on pig husbandry and monogastric nutrition.
Q. Tell me about your business.
A. Nedap, a globally operating, technology-driven company, consists of seven different business units highly skilled to identify an individual item or component in a large group. Our company uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to identify this one individual element in a large group (such as hundreds of thousands of cars or items in fashion stores, or libraries with up to 200,000 books) and creates easy-to-use solutions based on that data to optimize businesses. For example, in a 5,000-sow pig farm, our pig division’s core business, we can recognize and manage each individual animal to perfection using our fully automated farm-equipment and solutions.
Nedap is 90 years old and got its start focusing on mechanical parts, which later turned into technology, and has now grown into a company handling large data information. Our business units are operating in totally different sectors, helping us be a strong player in developing new platforms, discovering new ways to gather information and ultimately assisting in improving management decisions.
Q. What is your leadership philosophy?
A. My leadership style is to give people a lot of space to explore. They all have different skills and expertise and operate in different ways. I encourage them to set targets and go for them, and if on the way a mistake is made, that’s all in the game. I want them to feel comfortable to reach out to me to help them solve issues. Since they all operate globally, a team member from North America will work differently than a team member from China based on culture, status of the country’s pig industry and business philosophy. Our company offers solutions so we need to figure out what is bothering the customer first to know how we can help them improve by implementing our solutions.
Q. How has your background in production agriculture helped you in your role today?
A. From my point of view, maybe it’s because I’m a farmer’s son, I expect equipment to work at any time. I tend to look more at the farm operations side and am most interested in the animal and its well-being itself. How do we maximize performance? That drives me. I have a passion for the pig industry and contribute by looking at the whole proposition of what the Nedap solution offers the farmer. Can we join all these forces to bring pig farming to next level?
Q. What inspires you?
A. The Netherlands is one of the leading pig-producing companies in terms of innovation and being driven to do better every day. It’s very motivating to be surrounded by an industry that wants to be better and is never satisfied with what it was, and is doing research, using the latest technologies and trying to be more efficient.
Q. What is your company’s philosophy on building customer relations?
A. To best serve our customers, we must keep up with the pace of genetic development. Farmers who want to achieve top performance of their animals can’t do that today with the same feed formula and equipment they used 20 years ago. Our job is to obtain all the relevant data to manage the farm to perfection. This is becoming even more important as we see the size of the farm growing and the availability of workers (and level of responsibility, skills, motivation) changing. We play a crucial role in assisting farm operations on this front.
Keep reading on Page 2 to find out his thoughts on the future and where the pork business is going.