When two of Brazil’s leading forage equipment machinery companies merged, they formed one of the largest agricultural equipment companies in the world. Reuben Ford discovers how, in times of times of crisis, the merger has become an essential solution for the country’s agribusiness.
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The NB Group is the amalgamation of 60 years of experience in the forage market. NB Group combines the two most successful brands in the Brazilian fodder market, JF Máquinas Agrícolas (JF Agricultural Machines) and Nogueira Máquinas Agrícolas.
JF is a 100 percent Brazilian company, founded in 1981. From the start, the company’s aim was to produce machinery and equipment for livestock and agriculture. Today JF is one of the largest foraging companies in the world, employing approximately 800 people in two industrial plants. With an extensive range of agribusiness solutions, it produces the biggest selling forage harvester in the world and exports equipment to over 50 different countries.
The company’s history dates back to a young man named João Nogueira de Freitas, who was raised working the land, so by the time he graduated from technical agricultural college; he was determined to find accessible and practical solutions for farm workers. It was not long before he invented his own machinery.
The paths of the two companies crossed when this entrepreneur and visionary founded Irmãos Nogueira 60 years ago. In 1980, João Nogueira de Freitas left the partnership and established JF Máquinas Agrícolas. From the start, JF introduced revolutionary and very different ideas in the market, and quickly gained an excellent reputation for the quality of its products.
Re-invention and Re-investment
In 1990, JF made an important mark in the industry by introducing the first forage harvester in Brazil, which is still the leading machine today. The right mix of entrepreneurial spirit, investment in technology and a unique global vision pushed JF’s product lines to the top of bestseller lists – known for their efficiency and low wastage.
Carefully planned investment, management of revenues and increase in the number of professionals employed by the company led to new products.
Despite substantial growth, success and change, JF remained focused on its goal: to be a solution provider for producers. Following this central philosophy, JF’s new management strategy continued making new discoveries in diverse areas.
Today, the complete product line made by the group, foragers, precision forage harvesters, picker platforms, precision forage choppers, disintegrators, fodder processors, forage wagons, sowers, balers, mowers, mixer wagons and fertilizer distributors. All of these products are sold throughout Brazil and exported to five continents.
“It’s difficult to summarize the most important steps that the company has taken, because it has constantly re-invented itself. Especially, in such a competitive market such as agribusiness,” says Global e-Business & Marketing Manager, André Pereira.
Another important factor he emphasizes is the nature of investment in the company – technology, people and product development. “Even in the face of economic difficulties, this part of our company culture has helped us to maintain market leadership, not only in harvesters, but in several other product lines.”
JF continues investing in the evolution of its machinery – including tractor machinery that covers the entire area, transforming the level of productivity for the farmers and combining several tools in one.
Adopting a strong stance has incorporated other leading agricultural brands such as Storti. NB is the exclusive representative in Brazil of this Italian leader in TMR technique mixer feeder wagon production. Known for its innovation, Storti has been at the forefront of its market since 1956, and has been an important part of JF since 2007. JF/NB also represents the European leading agricultural equipment brand Kverneland. “In both instances, there is an exchange of knowledge, training, technical information and commercial information. Equipment approved in Europe is tested on Brazilian soil, trusted and successful brands are made available by JF and added to the company portfolio,” says Pereira.
Market leading brands under its belt, NB knows how to address the agriculturists’ issues. The other brands keep the Group “modern, strong and maintain the market and users’ respect,” Pereira affirms. Their importance is unquestionably strategy: the transfer of technical knowledge, the highest quality and leadership in the market.
The JF C-120 is the product in the range that stands out for the group in terms of sales. It is the best-selling precision harvester in the world, is aimed at small producers in Brazil, and sells in over 50 countries. Pereira however, states it is more than a flagship product: “It gave the technical and practical support for the evolution of the machine to meet the requirements of largescale producers – the JF 1600AT.” He also adds that the Group is increasingly recognized for steel mixer cars, which add value to the brand by standing out in their category.
People, Place, Production!
Investment in technology and global market knowledge is clearly a priority at JF/NB. The advanced infrastructure at the Group’s two factories, both located in São Paulo state in towns around one hundred miles from the state capital. Together the two plants (approximately 30 miles apart produce and test the company’s products). Pereira comments that the organization is such that tooling, parts production, foundry, molding, finishing and painting are all on-site to increase vertical integration of the plants.
However, he also emphasizes the enormous value that NB places on its 800 employees, citing motivational speakers who have visited the factories and workplaces and even well-known singers. “We want…our employees to feel good about where they work, where they spend all day, every day – where they give their all to make JF the quality brand it is today…(it is in) JF mentality to value people.”
A Smile in the Face of Adversity
So how has a company dealing with one of Brazil’s biggest industries continued to be a global leader, while at home the country is hounded by political and economic corruption and instability? Pereira clarifies that the reduction in international investment directly affects Brazilian business across the board. However, he makes two important points: throughout the crisis, the country’s agribusiness has sustained the economy – of which they are an important part. Secondly, the company policy is proactive. “We can’t sit and wait for economic recovery. We must act and create the conditions for our company to thrive… through crises come opportunities.”
Moving forward, without looking back, JF maintains its mantra ‘solutions for producers’. Following this, 17 new models were displayed at Agrishow – Latin America’s largest Agribusiness fair and the company has more to come. As well as new products, JF promises to work on improving digital communication with clients, consumers and suppliers. The market leader is putting its faith in technology, experience, and focus to guarantee its continued success.