Greenhouse Grower recently connected with BioWorks President and CEO Bill Foster to discuss how businesses achieve culture and the challenge of being known in the market largely through one well-regarded product.
GG: We heard a lot about "culture" and how BioWorks is actively seeking to change its culture. How exactly is BioWorks going about this change, and what benefits will its employees, customers and the floriculture industry see as a result of this change?
BioWorks’ Bill Foster
BF: The culture of BioWorks is very important to us; we want to provide employees with a challenging and rewarding environment built on trust and respect for each other and for our customers. The success of BioWorks is dependent on the success our customers have with our products. Our culture embraces our mission of providing environmentally responsible, safe and cost-effective products that meet the long-term needs of the floriculture industry
Almost as soon as BioWorks opened its doors for business, we identified the type of culture we believe is important to achieve our mission, and that can be embraced by the right type of person. So for almost 15 years we have been investing in our people, first by hiring the right kind of people, and then spending hundreds of hours openly discussing and providing training on our culture – so we’re not really trying to change our culture. Instead, we’re continuously developing it.
BioWorks is 100-percent owned by its employees so we don’t have to answer to outside investors and make decisions based on short-term financial pressures. Because of this, we can invest in our employees more than most companies do while maintaining a long-term point of view, which we believe means doing business the right way.
We believe that the ultimate outcome of a strong culture is a company with great people providing great products with great service. And that benefits everyone – from the employees to the customers to the industry as a whole.
GG: RootShield’s brand awareness is tremendously strong, but it’s arguably so strong that growers largely identify BioWorks as "the producers of RootShield." Is such brand awareness a good thing or more of a challenge considering the brand becomes the company’s identity?
BF: The strength of our RootShield brand is a good problem to have. We’ve been selling RootShield for over 15 years, so on the one-hand that’s likely why it’s so well known and trusted. On the other hand, our challenge – and opportunity – is to broaden the trust growers have in RootShield to our other products. We do have many happy growers who are confidently using all of our other products, including CEASE, BotaniGard, MilStop and NemaShield. It’s our responsibility to be sure we keep up that confidence, and continue to offer products that growers (and the industry) need. If we are successful in that, the BioWorks identity should continue to become clearer and stronger.
GG: Can a new culture help BioWorks, or any company for that matter, achieve a new identity for RootShield and its other products?
BF: Interesting question. From a general standpoint, certainly a poor or ill-defined company culture can negatively influence the brand or identity. There has to be something more behind the brand in order for it to last. In our case, a strong team of dedicated employees focused on the customer, while making decisions that are consistent with the company’s mission, purpose and values. That’s a good summary of our plan at BioWorks.
Our goal is to have growers confident in the BioWorks name. We know that it’s an ongoing process and can be easily destroyed with products and services that don’t work.
Given all of this, we do understand that it’s ultimately the customer that will determine trust in our name and dictate our success.