There are very few who have looked at dairying in the first decades of the 21st century and then decided that it was a good time to start something new. Few or not, that was the decision arrived at by Patrice Simard and Alan Bryson because as they saw it. “Industry priorities seemed outdated for the direction that the international marketplace was heading.”
One Size Didn’t Fit All. For Bryson and Simard It Also Didn’t Fit the Future!
In 2008 Bryson and Simard had the courage of their convictions to make the next move. They formed Trans-America Genetics or TAG as it is widely known five years later. This new kid on the AI block was different from the others. “Here was group of forward thinking breeders who were united to become the TAG Partners. It was formed from an “unusual partnership” rather than the more common coop setup. We would win or lose together.” It was a bold no guts… no glory move but already the founders felt empowered. “Forming the partnership was a big challenge but it also represented the first success for TAG.” Founded on partnership, it isn’t at all surprising that Patrice’s life partner, Natalia Rodrigues, is also a business partner. Indeed the teamwork of the TAG President, Patrice, and Vice-President, Natalia, is the ultimate real-life example that shows how sharing the burdens of business and supporting each other are at the very heart of this new undertaking.
Ready! Set! Start UP! TAG is into Game Changing!
“TAG was created to provide options that weren’t available in the market” asserts Patrice who envisioned a framework that would provide realistic opportunities for breeders to make new choices. Today, with five years under its belt, TAG has the perspective to look back and gauge how well that vision has been implemented. “TAG has devoted our attention to helping dairy enterprises become more profitable through genetic selection and focus on quality products.” That attention has been successful for TAG. “Our unique philosophy of partnering for success is the “raison d’être” or reason for being that provides the foundation that Trans-America Genetics is building upon.”
“Success is a Whole Team Relationship”
TAG had a special vision in assembling an exceptional team as well. “It was imperative right from the early stages for the company to surround itself with quality people.” From the outside looking in, the uniqueness of the TAG team is readily apparent. First there are their varied backgrounds including American, Brazilian, French, French Canadian, English Canadian, and Cuban. Then there are the qualities they all possess: energy, passion, enthusiasm and commitment.” The entire team loves to demonstrate those qualities that have grown the vision and makes TAG partnership a reality for each partner, client and staff person!!” Patrice sums up the learning curve of the first 5 years. “The most important lesson has been the value of relationships. Every success at TAG has been the result of relationships earned throughout life and treating those people with honesty and integrity.”
The Global Game Starts “Now!”
Whether you’re looking at five years or fifty years, it’s easy to see that progress is not a straight road from start to finish. When you throw genetics into the mix, you can be sure that there will be ups and down and sometimes even high speed. Patrice confirms how this impacted TAG. “The situation in the international marketplace demonstrated a need for a company with a focus on different priorities.” Having said that and recognizing that profitability is the ultimate goal for everyone regardless of their place in the dairy industry TAG was prepared to evolve into a more fluid business that could include multiple and varied options. Simard is happy for the success of that model. “The international market ratified the ideals of TAG and demonstrated their support by the speed in which the markets developed and multiplied.”
Moving At the Speed of the Marketplace
The speed of change is the new reality of the dairy industry regardless of what country you are in and it can be a factor affecting everything says Patrice. “Speed has definitely been the biggest surprise! If we look at the original business plan things have been bigger, better and faster than we ever imagined. The number of bulls we have marketed, the number of distributors in place and international influence achieved, five years in business we are at a very different place than what the original business model projected.” Being able to evolve was important. “Our growth in developing business plans and financial models has increased exponentially.” There are new questions and the need for new and better answers on a daily basis! For this young company change is no longer on the horizon it is here!
Putting the Genomics Pedal to the Metal
Nowhere is speed more apparent in the dairy world than in new technologies such as genomics. TAG feels their growth has been similar. “We have exceeded our goals in every way. We can look at TAG as the marketing parallel to how genomics has impacted the industry.” Nevertheless he remains clear sighted in his assessment of this new tool. “Genomics has brought many benefits. However, it also brought a current period of instability, due to the speed with which it impacted dairy breeding.” While technology can pave the way, it is not without its speed bumps.
TAG Success Growing by Leaps and Bounds
It is always reassuring when a new company successfully reaches five years. Patrice reports that there are many great successes stories that started right from the beginning. “One big success came with the August ’09 proof round. It was an incredible round for TAG and a turning point for the young company.” If TAG was writing a book about success the title would be “Domain, Domain, and Domain!” Simard explains, “Domain received his first genomic profile and ranked 3rd in the population for GTPI!” From there success continued on the sales front. “Sales have doubled every year for the past three years. The company has had to expand the management team to respond to the every-increasing interest!” Looking back at goals set by the partnership the glow continues as Patrice points out an exceptional exploit for the young company. “In 2012 the milestone of one million doses of semen produced was reached.”
TAG is All About “Now You See Us!”
In a hugely competitive marketplace, where the danger can be that everyone looks like everyone else, TAG has had success in creating innovative marketing platforms. “TAG has managed or co-managed 4 sales to date for combined gross revenues of over $10 million dollars.” Those were profile raising opportunities to follow Domain’s success. “The great success with Domain permitted TAG to contract a few more important sires and start moving ahead exploring possibilities abroad.” Of course, whether it’s sales, semen or sires you’ve got to have visibility to the consumer and part of that is in how you brand yourself. Patrice is proud of this growth area as well. “TAG’s distinctive marketing style became quickly recognized. Whether it was modern ideas for ads, clothing or new views for photos, breeders are vocal in their appreciation of TAG’s marketing products.”
TAG Game Plan = Continuous Transparent Collaboration
It doesn’t matter what stage your company is at there is never a time to say, “There! We have done enough!” For TAG who began with the goal of impacting their partners’ success by providing something different, the challenge is ongoing. “The TAG philosophy means working with farmers to develop profitable genetic strategies for their herds.” In these first years market reaction has been favorable but there is always work to do. “TAG feels that as a company which from the start believed in genomics, they have a responsibility towards dairymen to help them understand the developments and possibilities that genomics bring to them.” There are always new concerns. “Fertility has become one of the greatest impediments to commercial farm profitability and TAG’s objective is to put the focal point on fertility and health traits.
Wrong Way. Right Turns. Quick Response
Of course, with growth come both challenges and opportunities. Looking back is always easier than looking forward. “The original TAG model was based on having products to distribute which never materialized.” This could have meant game over but the TAG partnership is always prepared to respond to new issues. “We had to accelerate the search and development of our own products” Having the flexibility to change proved to be a key. “Change was quickly implemented. The original business model was to grow from a domestic oriented company towards international distribution.” The speedy success in the international marketplace inspired a new direction. By continually building on their goal of meeting the needs of particular breeding operations, TAG is confident that they will gain in the Canadian marketplace too. “The domestic market hasn’t been as receptive to the TAG philosophy probably due to the difference in the commercial dairy industry here in Canada.” TAG continues to be unique even when facing challenges. Many start-ups focus intensely on growth, sometimes to a business-ending fault. “For TAG the focus now and in the future is based on the needs of the customer and then on follow-through. The only thing that will never change at TAG is the core belief of integrity and transparency towards partners and clients.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
As TAG continues to innovate and make their mark in the dairy genetics industry, they have encouragement for others. “Ideas are important but TAG has learned that courage is the main ingredient for success. The courage to go forward with your ideas, the courage to face adversity, the courage to admit that you need to modify the plan and the courage to launch the next idea.” Congratulations and High 5s all around. When it comes to dairy passion, enthusiasm and commitment “TAG You’re It!”