When an international agriculture conference came to its hometown, AGCO Corp. would not be outdone.
AGCO, the world’s No. 2 manufacturer of tractors and agricultural equipment behind Deere & Co., played a major role in bringing the AG CONNECT Expo to Atlanta.
“We made sure that we had the biggest and nicest stand, which we had, so that we could outperform the competition,” said Martin Richenhagen, AGCO’s chairman, president and CEO.
Though he wanted to outdo other attendees, Mr. Richenhagen also sought to foster deeper business partnerships among global farm equipment producers. He served as executive chairman of the event, which brought nearly 3,000 exhibitors and 12,500 attendees to the Georgia World Congress Center in Jan. 8-10.
Attendance – including delegations from China, Russia and across Africa – shattered marks set during the inaugural expo last year Orlando, which attracted about 7,500 business leaders.
The concept behind the event is bring an agricultural trade show to the U.S. that matched the size and importance of the market. While the U.S. is the largest buyer of farm products, all the big trade shows were previously held in Europe, Mr. Richenhagen told GlobalAtlanta.
The conference is still in a “pilot phase,” as organizers are talking to manufacturers to see which aspects they liked best, he said. One innovation in the event’s second year was the addition of business meetings on the sidelines of the conference. As for the venue, it was a “great success.”
“Everybody was very positive about the congress center, and not only for the exhibitions, but also for the many meetings we had,” Mr. Richenhagen said.
AGCO used the conference to allow its North American dealers to bring their current and potential customers by the company headquarters in Duluth, where about 500 people work, he said.
The company’s large exhibit at the event included a mix of equipment and educational materials.
AG CONNECT organizers are mulling their next move. From now on, the show will alternate years with Agritechnica, a biennial event held in Hanover, Germany.
Mr. Richenhagen sees 2011 as a strong year for the agriculture industry as the world population continues to grow, increasing the demand for mechanized crop production. Also, food price inflation is threatening to crimp growth in large, emerging economies like Brazil, India and China.
“Every minute while we speak we add 156 people to the world population,” said Mr. Richenhagen, who said that at current rates of consumption, the global supply of staples like corn, wheat, beef and wheat will have to double in the next 20 years.
Over the next five years, AGCO expects to double its current revenues. The company has recently announced new factories in China and U.S. expansions.