As Florida and the nation adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Grower® magazine is recognizing the important role businesses play in serving specialty crop producers in the state. This month, we are featuring Karl Manges, Operations Director of DS&A.
First, can you provide a little background on the history of DS&A Inc.?
Manges: DS&A Inc. is a distributor of advanced agricultural solutions, which includes The Quantum Growth Series, Thyme Guard, Magna-Bon, Ampersand, and KeyPlex product lines, that enhance and maximize the efficiency of growing operations throughout North America. Established in 2008 as a family owned business in Florida, DS&A Inc. is one of the original and longest active distributors for Quantum Growth, which is a microbial-based product. DS&A Inc. places an emphasis on and is proud of its customer service with representatives — in strategic locations throughout the U.S. — to meet the demands of our growers’ business needs.
How has COVID-19 impacted DS&A Inc. operations?
Manges: COVID-19 greatly impacted the one-on-one service DS&A Inc. provides to our customers. It also changed how we attracted new customers without trade shows on the calendar. We’re pretty excited about the upcoming Florida Grower’s Citrus Show in May. This will be the first trade show in the region since the shutdown due to the pandemic. However, in the meantime, we had to think outside of the box and discover new ways to communicate to our industry through various digital and print marketing strategies.
Outside of COVID-19, what are some of the other challenges your grower customers are dealing with this year?
Manges: Transportation issues with delayed shipments were probably the worst from our end. When a grower orders a product from us, we provide the most efficient way to bring our solutions to their operation in a timely manner. During the height of the COVID-19 shutdown, growers also were having issues selling crops. Demand was down due to restaurants only providing take-out orders and greatly reduced food service.
Growers had to get creative by doing things like selling directly to consumers instead of restaurants or into food service. Two of the manufacturers we support, Magna-Bon and KeyPlex, helped a local blueberry farm sell directly to the Orlando community. We all had to get creative to keep the doors open and help one another. We are extremely proud to be a part of the agricultural community in Florida and want to do whatever we can to show support to our agriculture family. We are all in this together.
Are you seeing signs that we are beginning to emerge from the impacts of COVID-19?
Manges: Over the past several months, we have started to see more acceptance of one-on-one meetings with our customers. People are starting to see that if the public can go to retail outlets, supermarkets, and theme parks, then we can safely have in-person meetings and business-related conferences.
Do you have anything in the pipeline or in development you would like to share?
Manges: Earlier this year, we added the product lines of Thyme Guard and Magna-Bon to our portfolio. In addition, we are excited to have recently added the Ampersand adjuvant manufactured by Attune Agriculture and KeyPlex. With these new product additions, we have more resources available for our customers. More information along with product details, case studies, and research results can be found on DSAGrow.com.