Ok, we know that technically it isn’t 2020 yet. But with only two more days to go, we figure it’s still safe to look back over 2019 as a whole. There’s a lot to think about, after all — we had a busy year, between trade shows and new projects and simply the day-to-day work of creating displays for all you folks working to improve agricultural literacy. Join us as we take a look at some of the year’s highlights.
1. We had a blast at the Commodity Classic.
As we predicted in our 2018 year-in-review, the 2019 Commodity Classic was definitely a highlight. Our trade show team loved hearing about the future of the ag industry, networking with organizations that represent farmers and commodities across the nation, and introducing the folks at the show to some of our favorite products. We’ll be back at the 2020 show, so if you’re going, make sure to stop and say hi!
We also went to a trade show in August that was practically in our own backyard. The AgroExpo, in St. Johns, MI, was another great opportunity to learn about different agribusinesses and aspects of the ag industry. Not to mention, it gave us the chance to network with still more people in our Mid-Michigan farming community.
2. You challenged us to create new products…
Our customers are just a really imaginative bunch, with a wide variety of needs. Over the course of the year, we came up with and built several new products to meet those needs. The new products range from a gigantic corn kernel to an interactive display challenging consumers to match ag products to the animals or crops they come from. And we tweaked some of our old products, adding an option to have exposed root systems on our realistically-detailed artificial corn.
3. …and to tackle big projects.
Speaking of those exposed roots, the project we developed them for deserves its own mention. Precision Planting is a company dedicated to improving crop yields by reducing planting errors (such as planting seeds too close together). It wanted to show the effects planting errors have on the plants, so it ordered no less than sixteen artificial corn plants: eight seedlings and eight harvest-ready stalks. Each display had a cutaway portion that showed the root system, since planting errors affect all parts of the plant.
Our craftsmen, being the creative people they are, figured out a way to make realistic-looking roots and attach them to the rest of the plant. No small job, either — towards the end of the project, we held a root-making party where even the folks who usually work in the front office pitched in to create as many roots as possible. We liked the results, though. More importantly, so did Precision Planting.
4. We continued reaching lots of fields.
Over the course of 2019, our website attracted visitors from 102 countries on every continent except Antarctica. (Not much agriculture going on there, after all.) After the U.S.A., the top five countries were India, Canada, the Philippines, and Nigeria. That’s quite a range! And within the U.S., we were found by folks from every single state, with the top five being Virginia, our home state of Michigan, California, Texas, and New York.
2019 also saw our first international project. Grain Farmers of Ontario, Canada ordered three of our popular tabletop trivia games to help represent and promote Ontario’s wheat, oat, corn, barley, and soybean farmers. They even took advantage of our customization options to use self-designed graphics and trivia questions. We’d never built a grain-focused game before (our trivia games usually focus on dairy, soybeans, dry beans, or pork), but this was certainly a good place to start!
Like we said, it really was a standout year. But we don’t want to linger here — we’re already excited about what’s coming in 2020! Besides the Commodity Classic in February, we’re looking forward to partnering with organizations new and old in the quest to raise agricultural literacy. What new products might you challenge us to create? What tools might help your ag education efforts? Whether we’ve built it before or not, we’d love to hear your ideas and we’d be honored to help you out.