Insights and Inspiration from ExtendAg’s Annual Team Meeting 

team photo


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of bringing the ExtendAg team together for our annual in-person meeting. This year, we chose Lodi in the heart of California’s Central Valley, a region celebrated not just for its wine grapes but also for its diverse crops like almonds, walnuts, cherries, apples, olives, and various stone fruits. This area doesn’t just produce some of the finest crops; it’s also the region that many of our employees and customers call home, making it the perfect setting for our gathering. 

Reflecting on the two days we spent together, from the insightful leadership presentations to the engaging group activities and social gatherings, three key themes stood out to me. 


First, we celebrated the major milestones that highlighted our growth in both our business and team over the past year, all reinforcing the positive momentum towards our mission to provide mission-critical technology to the most important industry in the world. After coming together as a team for this meeting, it’s even clearer to me that our understanding of the fruit and vegetable crop supply chain and strong customer relationships position us well to not only achieve but surpass our strategic objectives. 


meeting kick-off


Continuous Improvement 

Continuous improvement is fundamental to our culture at ExtendAg and this was very apparent throughout the two days. Through the workshops and presentations, we emphasized the importance of embracing new technologies, refining our processes, and fostering a culture of learning and adaptability. The focus on leveraging data more effectively and addressing areas for improvement in our solutions and processes underscored our dedication to leading the industry, not just keeping pace with it. 


continuous improvement


Team Building & Collaboration 

The team building and collaboration activities over the two days were particularly memorable for me. Our discussions on industry challenges and the exchange of innovative ideas showcased our collective creativity and commitment. “The survival simulation game didn’t just bring us closer; it sharpened our problem-solving skills in the most unexpected ways,” reflected one of our team members. 


team collaboration
team collaboration
team collaboration

But the most important part of these annual meetings is the time we spend together outside of the meeting room. This year, we planned a special team building afternoon with an olive oil and wine tasting trolley tour, a unique opportunity that allowed our team members to connect on a personal level in a relaxed and informal setting.


Trolley team photo
Trolley driver


We boarded the trolley at our hotel with our friendly driver, embarking on a journey that took us through the scenic landscapes of Lodi’s renowned agricultural region. Our first stop was at Calivines Winery & Olive Mill, a boutique olive grove and vineyard, where we learned directly from the family that founded and runs the mill about their story, the intricacies of growing olives for olive oil and the meticulous oil production process. As ag industry professionals, learning about olive growing and olive oil production was right up our alley.


Calavines, Lodi, CA


We tasted a variety of different olive oils and blends, gaining an appreciation for the craft and the nuances that make each flavor unique. The tasting experience then transitioned from olive oils to wines, giving us a chance to enjoy a curated selection of Calivines’ finest wines. 




We hopped back on the trolley at Calivines and made our way to M2 Winery to continue our wine tasing journey. We were greeted by the knowledgeable staff and a local sparkling wine welcome drink. In a very relaxed, informal setting, we tasted a variety of wines from the Lodi region, even a couple that weren’t on the curated tasting menu. It was a fun experience that gave us the pleasure of enjoying local wines but also socializing in an informal setting, enhancing the sense of camaraderie among the team. 


M2 Winery, Lodi, CA


One employee commented on how the experience made them feel more connected with the rest of the team and created strong bonds that will only strengthen their work together. “The olive oil and wine tasting tour was a fantastic way to learn, unwind, and bond with my colleagues. I feel a deeper connection with the team, and I believe these bonds will enhance our collaboration and productivity.” 


M2 Winery, Lodi, CA


This great afternoon brought our team together in a way that formal meetings and presentations cannot. It underscored the importance of building relationships and fostering a sense of community within the team, a critical component of our success at ExtendAg. We returned from the tour with not just a deeper appreciation for Lodi’s olive oil and wine but also for each other, ready to tackle the challenges ahead with renewed energy and unity. 


trolley in vinyard


We concluded with a five-course Italian dinner at a local restaurant, the perfect finale to our highly productive and enjoyable day.


ExtendAg team dinner


A Commitment to Community 

Before concluding our second day together, our team donated canned produce to a local Lodi food bank. This initiative reflects a genuine commitment to community well-being and is an expression of our broader responsibility to use our capabilities for the greater good, ensuring our actions foster real change. 


Lodi food drive donation team photo


One team member shared with me that, “Donating to the Lodi food bank as a team reminded me of the importance of giving back and making a positive impact together. It feels good to see our collective efforts make a real difference in the community.” 


Lodi food drive donation


Looking Forward 

As a team, we’re excited by the prospects for growth, innovation, and lasting impact in agriculture. As I shared in my presentation, “We’re here to make a significant mark on the most Important industry in the world. Otherwise, why else would we be here?” This sentiment echoed throughout the event and reflects our journey—one characterized by resiliency, entrepreneurship, and a commitment to customer excellence.

ExtendAg is more than just an ag tech company; we’re a community of thinkers, innovators, and visionaries, united in our mission to enhance the world’s most important industry. Here’s to another year of growth, learning, and success! 

Evolution of AgTech

If you follow AgTech news, not a single day goes by without yet another announcement from a startup or large tech company highlighting their groundbreaking innovative product that targets a key piece of the agricultural supply-chain. All this investment activity and technical innovation has even attracted the eyes of the big tech firms—such as Google (Farmers Business Network) and Amazon (Plenty)—who have set up their own investment vehicles to capitalize on it. All of this technology investment going into agriculture has to be a good thing, right?

Stephen Berry, VP Information Technology

The six key components making up this emerging platform for 2021 and beyond include:

  1. 1. IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to gather vast amounts of ever-increasing raw data at the source
  2. 2. Edge-computing to enable local processing of the data volumes, minimizing network latency
  3. 3. 5G networks to provide high speed, reliable, and widespread network capability, connecting the Edge to the Cloud
  4. 4. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) to make sense of the massive amount of data and automatically deal with the mundane, freeing up humans to deal with the exceptions
  5. 5. A growing number of APIs (Application Interfaces) into ERP transactional systems closes the loop, enabling the AI and ML to automatically process transactions
  6. 6. Blockchain to reliably and securely store the data in a scalable way without the risk of exposing critical information via unauthorized access

Postmodern ERP: A Pragmatic Approach for Ag Processors

Postmodern ERP is the latest iteration of Gartner’s thinking on the best strategies to be adopted when implementing enterprise-wide solutions. It’s a response to the inexorable rise of the monolithic single vendor, single solution approach that has resulted in a number of high-profile failures with massive hits to both bottom lines and reputations.

In 2014, Gartner defined Postmodern ERP as “a technology strategy that automates and links administrative and operational business capabilities with appropriate levels of integration that balance the benefits of vendor-delivered integration against business flexibility and agility”.

This latest evolution is a recognition that ERP solutions can be great for core business administrative functions such as HR, finance, payroll, etc. However, across large organizations there is normally a variety of diverse business models that need custom solutions that closely address their unique operational needs. The result will usually be a trade-off between overall operational efficiency versus business flexibility and agility.

Postmodern ERP is not a platform or set of tools. It is a strategic approach that recognizes every business is unique and needs to formulate a strategy based on their specific needs. The overall strategy will be a combination of two different sub-strategies that address both administrative and operation requirements separately.

Integrations are key

Successful postmodern ERP is dependent upon the integration capabilities of the various components and a key consideration during the selection process. The integrations are normally the most complex and challenging aspects of any postmodern ERP strategy and can involve coordinating effort across multiple internal teams and external vendors.

However, the main reason monolithic ERP implementations often do not succeed is a failure to address the impact of (and resistance to) changing long established business practices and cultures. By leaving these unchanged and moving the challenges to the software integrations, this is something addressable by IT without any significant impact on the operational business users.

What should be done

At ExtendAg, we have observed first-hand the challenges faced by our enterprise customers and their attempts to address them. Several have learned the hard way that implementing a company-wide monolithic ERP usually comes down to a fundamental choice between the high cost of tailoring ERP software to address multiple often conflicting requirements, or changing long established business processes and cultures to work the way the software does. Neither is an attractive or straightforward option.

In addition to these difficult tradeoffs, the lengthy release cycle inherent to monolithic ERP systems not only adds significantly to the ongoing “total cost of ownership” (TCO) but hamstrings the ability to move “at the speed of business” to adapt changing market conditions.  In the meantime, facing the risk of missing a market opportunity, the business will find ways to address their needs, often leading to adoption of less-than-ideal solutions (think spreadsheets, unapproved apps, secluded data) to bridge the gap.

Other than the large ERP vendors themselves, no one in today’s challenging business climate would recommend implementing a single monolithic ERP solution unless their client is in a stable and established marketplace where the agility to support rapid growth or adapt to changing market conditions is not a requirement.

At ExtendAg, we appreciate these difficult decisions (regarding tradeoffs).  Designed from its origins as a subsystem to an ERP, ExtendAg can be a key component to your Postmodern ERP strategy.  Focused exclusively on raw product procurement and grower management, ExtendAg delivers the functionality your supply chain operations require without requiring wholesale change to business processes or grower interactions.  Our flexible approach of integrating to your specific ERP deployment maximizes the efficiency and value you derive from this strategy.  Lower initial cost, lower ongoing TCO, quicker deployment and disconnected release cycles all lend credence to the Postmodern ERP strategy.

Author: Stephen Berry, VP Information Techology

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