My father started trading feed additives in the 1970s. I grew up hearing stories about those days, and they all revolved around one theme: back then everything took longer, but when the workday ended the workday really ended. Driving to a customer required planning a route on a map and sitting down upon arrival for a long chat about the market. There is a certain nostalgia associated with those days, with the hum of the workday balanced by calm evenings free of email beckoning for a response.
Information flowed differently in those days too. Letters from distributors (yes, the kind with a stamp) and tradeshow meetings were the only way for suppliers to learn of changes in demand at the end of the supply chain. Every purchase was planned and contracts were signed based on annual demand. In case you have forgotten, this means deciding a year in advance what the price will be. While those calm evenings may elicit a sense of nostalgia, the inefficiency in information flow certainly does not. Things were much harder in those days, a fact that my father also acknowledges.
Since then, the telex has shifted to cell phones and letters have transitioned to emails. With COVID-19, we’ve seen another major shift in the way we work. Instead of trade shows we have Zoom, with 49 faces (or black squares) staring back at us in gallery view. And to make matters even more complicated, our kids are on Zoom too requiring our help throughout the day to share their screen, unmute their mic, and upload their homework. #WorkFromHome has made the divide between work and home virtually nonexistent. Our relationships, and often our sleep, ultimately suffer.
For many of us, price discovery remains one of the final frontiers yet to adapt to the new world. What was once a beloved aspect of our industry – nurturing valuable relationships turned friendships over many years – is now time-consuming and tedious. It requires endless emails back and forth, video calls, and keeping up with market changes being reported on by industry magazines. And even that painstakingly gotten information leaves room for doubt.
Glowlit gives us another option, a quick and reliable way to conduct price discovery. My father started out a bit skeptical of my idea to crowdsource feed additive prices. But after 50 years in the industry, he will be the first to tell you that we have no choice but to adapt to our ever changing reality. Luckily, we have proved rather adaptable over the years.
Founder and CEO of Glowlit.com