The loss of International travel has really impacted the plans of many businesses who had 2020 pegged for new markets.
Agritech company Terra NutriTECH tells Boost My Business how their plans for expansion were thwarted by the restrictions on overseas travel.
CEO Padraig Hennessy spoke to Fiona Alston about the peaks and toughs of the family business he owns with his brother Tom.
Terra NutriTECH was founded in 2012. It evolved from Terra Services, a farm water pipe laying service, after customers kept looking for a more accurate way to give minerals directly to animals.
It is now a fully automated system which disperses the required amount of minerals into animals watering system.
“We were lucky enough, we’re animal feed so we’re essential,” says Hennessy as he explains the impact Covid-19 had on the business.
“We were just on the cusp of going to launch in a couple of European countries and a South American country,” he says.
But those plans were halted when the country went into lockdown.
“We were lucky as our Irish business kept growing this year. We can’t complain from that perspective,” he continues. “Compared to many businesses out there, you know, we certainly can’t complain.”
They are currently in two markets, Ireland and in Germany but Hungry, Denmark Czech Republic and Uruguay are next on the list and should be on board by the end of the year. “We are also in discussions with four other markets, as well, at the moment, there’s quite a lot going on,” says Hennessey.
The company has received help from their Local Enterprise Office over the years before now moving on to Enterprise Ireland as they look towards Europe and beyond.
“We’ve gotten a lot of help from Kildare LEO, Jacqui McNabb has been brilliant. We’ve had everything from business expansion, grants to mentoring, being training to website development,” he says.
When the Brexit vote was announced that kicked the Hennesseys in to action, most of their minerals were sourced from the UK so they decided to expand the business and build their own manufacturing plant on the family farm at Moone, in Co Kildare.
This also prompted them to upgrade their technology and they built their own fully automated system, which can be controlled on a mobile or tablet interface. It reduces the stress out of reordering, calculating minerals and manual labour for the farmers keeping their livestock healthy.
One thing that will have an impact on their business this year is the loss of the annual ploughing championships.
“The ploughing championships has always been a huge event for us,” explains Hennessey.
“It gives us a chance to meet up with our existing clients because they all drop in for quick chat,” he continues. “It gives us a chance to meet new clients as well.
“We’d always get a significant amount of new business from the Ploughing Championships, it’s certainly something that will be missed this year,” he says.
The business is not only looking to step into new markets, but they also have several research projects and trails on the go.
One trial which is just finishing up, with the product due to launch in four weeks’ time, is adding the minerals directly to the feed. In larger farms the feed is mixed and distributed via a feeder wagon, the new system will spray the minerals over the feed as it is mixing.
Other research projects they are getting involved in are the use of seaweed in the animals diet to reduce methane and real-time data during the milking process to calculate the levels of calcium, magnesium and iodine in the milk in order to target mineral consumption in herds more accurately.
“Everything has been delayed probably by six months because people weren’t in offices,” he says, “it was hard to get deals across the line.
“I’ve seen a big difference there in the last two weeks, from both research and the International side,” he says.
“I think people have realised they need to start living with Covid. It’s been here for a while and we’ve got businesses back on track,” he adds.
Originally published here