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How I Work: From customer requests to industry trends, Meyer keeps a close eye on the A.I. industry

Paul Meyer for Progressive Dairyman Published on 01 March 2018
Paul Meyer enjoys his work

It’s Monday, so my week begins with the usual pre-dawn departure from our little hobby farm in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, as I drive to the coast – specifically, the WestGen offices in Abbotsford.

That’s a four-hour drive in good conditions but a bit more through winter months with that famous stretch of the Coquihalla through the mountains (from the TV series, known as the “Highway through Hell”) to maneuver.

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There is no typical day or week in my role as WestGen’s sales and marketing manager, but more Mondays than not, it’s a 3:30 a.m. departure to get me to the office on time for the start of the workweek.

On Mondays, whether it’s to be a week at the office or I’m headed elsewhere within the western Canada region the farmer-owned A.I. company serves, I’m anxious to see the email that arrives reporting on our sales from the previous week.

While my role is sales and marketing, I love most the accountability for the company’s revenue generation.

To be fair, we spend a significant chunk of that through the marketing hat I wear, too. Still, the challenge to constantly find ways to grow the market and WestGen’s share of it in western Canada is always on my mind.

Much of my drive to the office on this day – my windshield time – is an opportunity to think about how best to tackle two open positions within the company that both provide specialized genetic and management support to our customers, alongside our team of genetic advisers.

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I arrive at the office at 7:35 a.m., thankful for clear roads and no precipitation on this day. A bowl of cereal in the lunch room, and I am ready for my real day to begin.

We start with a management team meeting – scheduled monthly or sometimes bi-monthly – to catch each other up on the progress of action items and to discuss new issues that have risen since our last meeting. The meeting ends, and it’s time to catch up on emails and calls.

A good portion of my day during office hours is spent on the phone with my sales team, customers and other industry representatives with whom we collaborate. Today, the calls are about upcoming trade shows we will be attending and the focus for those events.

There are the usual calls about upcoming bulls farmers would like to use that are not yet available. There are also a few challenges to sort out with a high-demand bull in short supply. There is no typical day in this respect – other than a fair bit of it will be spent on the phone.

As we are in the early new year, the afternoon is spent developing reports that summarize our final sales numbers by semen products: Proven sales are slightly down, Genomax up, sexed doses way up and beef also up.

We have hit a high-water mark for WestGen in overall doses sold that hasn’t been reached in well over a decade, so a happy day for me.

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My sales team of genetic advisers receives a congratulatory email summarizing the numbers and my thanks for their efforts; it’s so important to continually send positive, motivating messages. Right from the start of the year, they had been on a tear, so finishing strong helped seal the deal.

But it’s 2018, and the focus is now on the year ahead. The remainder of the afternoon is spent between more calls and reformatting monthly sales target files for my team. The stark reality of expectation for continued growth can be daunting, but optimism prevails so early into the new year.

One of the local sales team members pops by the office at the end of his day for a chat about bulls he needs for customers that had not been ordered through the Christmas period. We talk about alternatives, including borrowing what has been allocated to a teammate.

Managing inventories is among our biggest challenges, with new “shinier” bulls arriving each month relegating others to ho-hum status so quickly. It takes hundreds of doses to fill a pipeline – we need to do better in emptying that pipeline when the market moves on to newer products.

Finding a workable solution will be one of the bigger challenges for 2018. I am constantly reminded that “what gets focus gets done.” I like challenges, so this will be front and centre for much of the year.

As the day draws to a close, I spend a quiet hour after others have left doing more analysis on our sales results from 2017 to determine trends and, from them, opportunities to serve our customers better.

It becomes clear sexed semen has been the darling product over the past year, so a further realization dawns that anything we can do to provide excellence and good choices for customers in this area will reward our continued desire to grow.

I finish my day with a quick walk through the WestGen barns and check out what has changed since just before Christmas. Wendon Dempsey Prude, All-Canadian 4-year-old in 2016, has recently arrived.

In an adjacent pen, the High Octane daughter of the 2016 Royal Winter Fair champion Jacobs Gold Liann is ever tall and leggy. In a pen nearby, an impressive early Fortune daughter with high LPI numbers is about to start collections.

And nearby as well, Smithden Goldwyn Alexandra, full sister to a former No. 1 LPI bull, is now 12 years old and still in demand for any embryo or daughter she can produce. There are many facets to the market, and the animals from a spectrum of ages who come to Boviteq West remind me of that.

A day in my work life at WestGen varies a great deal; that’s part of the attraction. I love being on farms alongside our genetic advisers learning from them and our customers.

On the other end of the pipeline, I am regularly on conference calls or at meetings that discuss the latest developments and innovations from Semex. Genomically tested embryos are an example, and I see my role to challenge our team and our customers to be early adopters.

I am on airplanes regularly and in hotels often, and the little hobby farm and my wife’s purebred Angus cows could certainly receive more attention. There will be time for that in a few years, I keep telling myself.

I love the variety I am provided in my role at WestGen and, after over 30 years employed in the breeding industry, I am as excited as ever for what is to come.  end mark

PHOTO: Paul Meyer enjoys the variety of his job in working with good farmers, team member and cattle. Courtesy photo.

Paul Meyer
  • Paul Meyer

  • Sales and Marketing Manager
  • WestGen
  • Email Paul Meyer

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