"We believe that new opportunities will open up for growers of food crops, as food supply chains are scrutinized in the aftermath of the pandemic. During the pandemic, not only has demand outstripped supply in several areas of the supply chain but, in many cases, there was no contingency “plan B” to fall back on. As such, retailers and distributors will be looking to ensure future security of the entire food supply chain―along with reduced lead-times and seamless access to localized production wherever possible." That is stated by Todd Phillips, president of P.L. Light systems.
Hardest times lead to greatest opportunities
The Covid-19 situation evolves rapidly and according to Todd, the only certainty is that we will continue to face uncertainty and new challenges over the coming weeks and months. "Both on a personal, and a professional level, I am not immune to the feelings of concern. However, despite being confronted with a constant barrage of “bad news” from the media, I remind myself that it’s often the hardest times that lead to the greatest opportunities", he recalls from personal experience, and explains how he was in the traditional printing industry during the recession and the transition to a print-on-demand model. "After reflecting on my situation, I made a commitment to myself, that I would never again put myself in a position where my livelihood was dependent on the longevity and stability of a particular industry."
Local food production
The opportunity to join the food industry came up and Tod joined P.L. Light systems - an independently owned company that manufactures horticultural lighting products. "It was a chance to be part of an industry committed to the long-term, sustainable production of fresh, locally grown food. In addition, in recent years, the mind-shift of people to want to eat/shop/buy their food products within a 25 km radius of where they live, and to know that the produce has been grown sustainably, responsibly, and is grown without pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to ingest, has further increased the demand for businesses to support our locally grown food supply chain. That commitment seems particularly important today. We at P.L. Light Systems are proud to be supporting the growers that people are relying on to deliver fresh, nutritious produce in almost every community across Canada and the USA."
"Although our hearts go out to the ornamental growers, many of whom have suffered great losses as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, we also believe that new opportunities will open up for growers of food crops", says Todd, referring to localized production of vegetables. "The sustainable agriculture and agtech sectors should see increased investment and support as both governments and consumers demand more secure access to healthy, sustainably produced food."
He explains how the pandemic has also exposed how vulnerable growers are to disruptions in their production when relying on foreign vendors and foreign workers for their infrastructure needs. "Many new greenhouse builds or expansions came to a grinding halt, as air travel was suspended and European consultants and builders were unable travel to North American job sites. Similarly, many equipment suppliers, who manufacture their products offshore, have experienced massive disruptions to their supply chain and have been unable to deliver products to their customers."
He concludes by mentioning how in the current climate, growers who opted to work with a North American supplier (like P.L. Light Systems) for critical equipment, are at a big advantage. "Not only are they assured of a reliable supply of quality products, but they also have access to local service and support teams. Our team of in-house experts (including light planners, manufacturing team, customer service and technical support)―as well as our locally based regional sales managers―are, as always, fully available to support our customers and quickly resolve any issues across North & South America. Our own success is, after all, rooted in the success of our customers."
Todd explains how the company knows growers' challenges, and are here to support them before, during, and long after they have invested in products. "When choosing our product, you are investing in the peace of mind that you are dealing with an established, local company offering local service and support―especially during the times you need it the most, as we have done since 1981."
Keep growing, he summarises. "I have always been proud to lead our extraordinary team, but in these uncertain times, I am beyond proud of how everyone in the organization has stepped up to the challenge. Motivated by what they see as a responsibility to local growers, and the opportunity to make a difference during these challenging times, our employees are still working hard to ensure customers are receiving all the support they need to keep growing―both today and in the future."