(Team AgroStandard Plus at Novi Sad International Agricultural Fair, 2022. From left to right: Aleksandra Stojković, back office and chief accounting; Stefan Martić, CEO, co-founder, and co-owner; Dejan Pantelić, CEO, co-founder, and co-owner; Igor Nikolić, chief of the service crew; Marko Lučić, CEO, co-founder, and co-owner; Milan Vukadinović, service crew; Robert Žolcer, engineer of green technology and decarbonization of working machines; Zagorka Maksimović, secretary)
AgroStandard Plus is an agricultural company that offers quality and complete services in Novi Sad, Serbia. Starting in 2017 with only 9 members, the company has served over 500 clients to this day. Their long-standing presence in the market wins trust, which keeps them motivated to provide quality products and services.
What is the mission of AgroStandard Plus?
Stefan Martić: I started AgroStandard Plus with two of my friends five years ago. We first focused on precision planters for corn, soy, and sunflowers and then expanded the scope to trailers and other agricultural equipment. Our goal is to provide quality and complete service to our clients who place their trust in us year after year. It was this trust that encouraged us to be even more dedicated to work and helping our customers and friends optimize their businesses in accordance with the laws of agriculture.
Why did you decide to add tractor autosteer to your company's portfolio?
Stefan Martić: As we were selling agricultural equipment, the demand for tractor guidance systems was on the rise. We started reselling systems of other brands, but as we got familiar with other options, we decided to be a dealer of a certain brand. We then spoke to Martin Ivanov, the FJD sales manager in charge of our region, who gave us lots of help in the beginning. We were satisfied with the system and then started marketing and selling it.
How do you gain the trust of customers and suppliers?
Stefan Martić: Trust is the most important thing in a business relationship. To keep customers loyal, we always try to keep a good relationship with them, old or new. When a customer is satisfied with the FJD system, they would then recommend it to their neighbors, family, and friends. It's the word of mouth that keeps the cycle going. But at the end of the day, it's the product quality and customer service that keep the customers loyal. When the product malfunctions, it's necessary to show sympathy and never delay in solving the problems. Agriculture is seasonal. When they need help in the field, you'd better reach out at the first opportunity.
How did the autosteer help Serbian farmers?
Stefan Martić: All of the farmers using the system are saying that it's important to have fewer overlaps when you're fertilizing or spraying. Some of the farmers are in charge of big-scale farms, and they work with wide implements. It's hard for the operator to deliver straight lines with 6-meter-long machines. Autosteer allows them to reduce overlaps and the inputs of seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers. We have a problem of worker shortage here in Serbia, so if you have a nice tractor that is autosteer-ready, you're more likely to find an operator to work with you — they don't have to do everything manually and they can work at night. The farmwork just becomes easier for them.
What advice would you give to beginning entrepreneurs?
Stefan Martić: We were one of the first dealers of FJD. Being a dealer is not about marketing and selling products and making quick cash. My advice for those who want to become a dealer in precision agriculture is to have a special bond with the suppliers. Make sure your needs as a dealer are satisfied and you're also working in the interest of that brand because as a dealer, you'd need technical and commercial support from the brand.
Think long-term and make strategies in sales and customer relationship management. I have three members of the crew dedicated to technical support. When farmers are in need of help, we can react quickly. It's not something that you can do well overnight. You'll need to fully trust the products and the suppliers. Great relationships with customers and suppliers build a solid foundation for the dealer's reputation. Nothing can be done overnight. It needs time. So be patient.