Interview with André Granger

We spoke with André Granger, Vice President & General Manager, Manitoba/Saskatchewan, Samuel, Son & Co. about trends in agriculture, the importance of pivoting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how Samuel is uniquely positioned to help customers succeed in the fast-evolving environment.


Why is the agriculture industry important for Samuel?

Canada’s economy relies heavily on our diverse agriculture sector, and particularly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan where it is one of the primary economic drivers. There are several large equipment manufacturers and their many sub-suppliers based in this region that Samuel serves.

How are you servicing the agriculture industry today? What products and processing capabilities do you offer?  

Samuel is a key supplier of slit coil, cut-to-length and stretch level material to many of the agriculture equipment manufacturers in the prairie-region. We’re also able to put together complete supply programs for customers. By collaborating with them, we are helping our customers manage their production schedules.

Generally, the agriculture sector is very seasonal. The patterns of equipment purchase and manufacturing follow this and track to a large extent, the planting and harvesting cycles. Fortunately, because of our strategic locations and scope of capabilities we can work with customers to do a lot of advanced planning and managing of material supply to meet demands.

Can you touch on some of the trends you’re noticing within agriculture?

Agriculture is a very complex business. The agri-food sector is continuously moving towards higher production volumes while using less resources. In the last several years, farm production, equipment size and crop varieties have continued to increase while the ability to secure labour for these farms can be very challenging. Farms are now being heavily managed and powered by advanced technologies such as automation, robotics and sophisticated equipment.

Samuel plays a very important part in the entire supply chain. Whether you look at grain storage, a tractor or piece of harvesting equipment in fields in Canada and the United States, you will definitely see Samuel processed steel across the landscape.

Climate change has been hugely impacting the agricultural industry in recent years, causing many to adapt their farming methods and practices.  How have you adjusted to meet shifting customer demands?  

Climate change has shifted production timelines. Nowadays, typical crops can grow in harsher climates with more intense heat or dryer weather. As these conditions shift the time between growing periods and harvesting is impacted. The timing between the two is becoming shorter. As suppliers to equipment manufacturers, we need to be able to help them meet their manufacturing needs. We plan as far in advance as possible to ensure we are able to deliver quality product on time and on budget.  

We work alongside our customers to ensure we are providing them with the right type of material that’s required for modern agriculture. This, coupled with high fluctuation in consumer needs, has prompted us to continue to adapt our material supply methodology and form strong partnerships with our customers.


How have you leveraged technology to navigate some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic?

The pandemic encouraged us to lean on the tech space and redefine many of the processes we had in place. We realized early on that we needed to be flexible and adopt the latest tools to help us build and manage relationships with our customers and suppliers. By coupling our internal expertise and technology we were able to continue prioritizing our customers, and respond quickly to any evolving needs.