As a brand expansion manager for Koch Agronomic Services (Koch), DeGroot has a chance to gain new knowledge on the job every single day.
“I look at about 100 new technologies and companies to buy for Koch each year,” he said. “To do this job, you have to like learning about new things, rooting around in details and reviewing everything from research to cost analysis documents.”
In 2021, the brand expansion team finished work on a project that took months of research and negotiations when they acquired the micronutrient assets from Compass Minerals. The new product line was a complement to Koch’s nitrogen stabilizers and premium fertilizers, helping growers maximize their crops’ yield potential.
“Our customers work very hard,” he said. “So we dig in and try to find solutions for them. We want to bring them products that work more efficiently than what we have now. I have a high interest in making sure people get what they paid for as efficiently as possible.”
Moving Agriculture Forward
Although DeGroot didn’t grow up in agriculture, he works to make a difference in how growers feed people around the world.
“The most rewarding part of my job is helping people improve processes and making sure the customer gets what they want,” he said. “I like solving problems and our customers have a lot of issues they face each day. It makes me feel good that we can provide them a solution to make their work easier.”
When DeGroot thinks about the future of agriculture, he believes the work being done now will go a long way in improving the processes involved in farming.
“We’re going to be more efficient in feeding the world,” he predicts. “We’ll have more accurate information about soil and crops along with better technology, and more access to technology in the field. With that information, they’ll produce more food.”
Koch leverages multiple capabilities to bring in one opportunity. From research and agronomy to marketing and sales, they all work together under one banner in order to make a single deal.
“Acquisitions are very interesting and it’s not business as usual,” he said. “We make sure our team focuses on what’s important. If some balls drop, make sure they’re rubber, not glass.”
An advantage to working in brand expansion is being able to see the big picture as well as all the individual details.
“I believe I have a good ability to view the entire forest and then break that down into pieces,” he said. “In this line of work, you need to sift through to determine what’s valuable and what’s not. Sometimes we don’t really know where the bumps in the road are, but we know to look for them.”
How He Got Here
Koch is unique in how it allows employees to explore their career path. DeGroot joined Koch 10 years ago, starting in mergers and acquisitions. That position led to a role in marketing and then project management. From there, he worked in customer service and logistics before becoming the brand expansion manager for the company.
His educational path was varied as well, earning a master’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Finance from Rockhurst University and an undergraduate degree in Social Science from Bethel College.
Fun Away from Work
Brand expansion is intense work. When DeGroot is not in the office, you can find him at home with his family. He and his wife have coached several sports teams for their three children, including track, football, basketball and volleyball.
Even with his busy schedule, he takes time to keep the people around him entertained. With a little coaxing, DeGroot can do some uncanny impersonations. His impressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Al Pacino are crowd pleasers. If you close your eyes, you’d swear the stars of “The Terminator” and “The Godfather” were talking to you.
From learning new things in the acquisition world to learning a new celebrity voice to mimic, you can be sure that DeGroot is focusing on the details to help growers produce better crops to feed the world and to keep a smile on the faces of the people around him.