Sowing the Seeds of Success at Radium Engineering: An interview with new COO; Jaco Orsmond

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From mechanical engineer to COO of one of the most reputable agricultural equipment manufacturers in Africa, Jaco Orsmond has truly walked the walk before talking the talk. A young and dynamic character with vast experience traversing the soil of Africa and the US, this COO is no ordinary executive. We had the great opportunity to ask Jaco a few questions:

What are the most significant projects you’ve been involved in over the last few years?

I studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria and joined Radium in 2007 whilst completing my degree. I gained invaluable experience during this time and was involved in several significant projects. From there I joined AGCO Corporation to further my experience and was responsible for a number of projects including being Lead Project Manager for the AGCO Zambia Training Facility, which is the first global training facility on African soil and the initial development of the AGCO West Africa Training Facility. In addition, I was Lead Project Engineer on projects aiming to localize manufacturing in South Africa. This included the design and development of products targeting the emerging farmer market, the largest available agricultural market today. I returned to Radium in 2017 in order to put my international experience to practice.

I understand you’ve been involved in the development of many of Radium’s products, which ones are these?

Correct, whilst at Radium and even after I left, I was involved in several developments. Most significantly I redesigned the Radium Power Rip Trip Assembly and Dual Tine Ripper Tines to be sourced from China. Other major development projects included the designing of the Spreader Gearbox, Radium’s Combination Machine and Radium’s Zone Till. Additionally, I improved on various designs to maximize the quality and manufacturing processes of our products.

In your opinion, what are the top agricultural trends for 2018? Both in South Africa and from a machinery point of view specifically?

The most significant trend I see expanding, given our scarce resources, is that of precision farming. This is a trend that will grow in the South African market this year and will continue to expand into the broader African markets over the next few years. Precision in Nutrition application and seed placement will become the focus to ensure an increase in soil fertility and crop yields. It’s all about planting the seed in the right environment and at a precise location. It’s important to support farming with the current technology to farm in the right way from the start to finish.

How will these technologies impact South African farmers?

The focus for every farmer is to maximize their efficiency and crop yields every season while minimizing downtime. The reduction of required input and loss, for example seed loss due to poor seed placement and nutrition loss during application, needs to be a priority for every farmer in the future. Precision farming will aid the farmer to be more precise by improving their method of farming, which makes the business of farming more profitable with less negative impact on the environment.

How can farmers in South Africa prepare for this?

Farmers must trust in the current technology and that it has been developed to support them in improving their farming methods. This applies to both the commercial as well as the emerging farmers. The introduction of mechanization to emerging farmers will make them more sustainable in future.

Where do you see Radium in the next 5 years?

Radium Engineering has been a trend setter in the South African market for 52 years and our focus for the next 5 years will be to continue doing just that, both in the local and global market. We will focus mainly on the development of new products and improving current products as well as introducing current technology to support farmers on a global platform. We aim to be a global partner and thought leader and work alongside our customers to produce more efficient methods of farming.

What will it take to get you there?

We must work closely with our customers and partners in all markets to understand their needs. Our focus has to be on satisfying those needs with the best and correct product as well as providing the best service and support possible.

The fundamental message evident from my conversation with Jaco was that superior customer service will always be the core of Radium Engineering. Jaco said: “What makes us different is that you deal directly with the decision makers. We firmly believe in a personalised service and strive to provide the best possible product together with the best possible service at the best possible price.”

From the products they produce to their after sales service and far beyond, Radium continuously and consistently strive for an exceptional customer experience, making this business, more than any other in its sector, truly a force to be reckoned with.