A TurPh.Dudes Take On Industry Innovation
This year has definitely been one for the record books. Our industry, our country, and the entire world went through one unforeseeable situation after another. Weird became normal, and change became routine, but the one thing that never wavered was the turfhead’s determination to adjust, adapt, and innovate. Innovation really is what makes this industry unique, and it’s at the heart of what drives us as a company. That’s why we’re constantly asking ourselves, “What’s next?” and, “How can we make this better?” Because at the end of the day, if our growing solutions aren’t keeping up with the ever-evolving needs of the industry, then our mission to maximize our customer’s success will slip. So, to ensure that never happens, we’ve always put product research & development at the forefront of our process. We conduct field trials and research with universities throughout the country, and we have two turf Ph.D’s on staff—affectionately known as our TurPh.Dudes. Our success depends on your success, so we want to do everything that we can to make sure you come out on top. To give you a glimpse into why we care so much about providing turfheads with the perfect product, we picked the brilliant brain of one of our TurPh.Dudes, Dr. Jeff Atkinson, to explore why R&D and continued innovation is so important to the industry.
Where do the TurPh.Dudes fit into the product process at Harrell’s?
My role with Harrell’s, as it relates to product development and research, is stewarding product concepts from initial research¬—or initial idea—to field research, and ultimately to market launch. Our objective as a company is to set our customers up for as much success as possible. So, taking an idea, putting it through the research and development process, and then ultimately providing it to our customers and seeing our customers have success is a very rewarding part of my role.
Let’s talk more about that field research.
Field trials are very important to developing products for Harrell’s and for our customers. When we launch a product into the market, our objective is to give the customer as much information about the product (and the ways that they can best use the product) to help them be as successful as possible. But often times, when we do launch a product, customers use them in ways that we never envisioned. So, we bring that information and those ideas to universities and try to put data behind those innovations so that our customers can more efficiently use those products and continue to innovate.
What’s the best part of being involved in that process?
My favorite part about being involved in that process is seeing an idea become realized into a tool that our customers can use to be more successful. So, maybe that idea comes from a customer, or maybe that idea comes from one of our team members in the field. But, to see that through its development process from the university level, and then to the customer level, and then ultimately to our customer’s success is the most satisfying part of that process.
Why are trials and product development so important?
Our industry relies on research and development because it’s a testing ground and vetting process for products before they reach the customers. Our customers have enough to worry about beyond the products working like they should or meeting the claims that are made about the products. That’s why we’ll always prioritize trials and product development. We want our customers to have the utmost confidence in our products, so we make sure to put them through the paces before they ever reach the shelves of our customers. It just gives them one less thing to worry about.
What’s new right now at Harrell’s? Anything fresh out of the R&D pipes?
Harrell’s has new three product offerings for this year. We have Seaweed A+E, which is a proprietary, unique formulation of Ascophyllum nodosum and Ecklonia maxima. We have EarthMAX® Organic, which is the same EarthMAX® product that our customers have grown to love but now has an OMRI certification. In addition, it also has a 22% carbon claim on the label. And third, we have Activator+SA. We wanted to find a way to incorporate a plant health component into our standard Activator adjuvant, and we’ve done that by incorporating Salicylic Acid into our Activator formulation.
What inspires you to continue working on product innovations like those?
When you look at our customers—how hard they work, how much dedication they put into their craft—that makes me want to work harder for those customers to provide them with the solutions that they need to ultimately be successful.
For more insights into industry topics like turf health, nutrition, control solutions, and the latest in academic research, tune into our TurPh.Dudes podcast. Our TurPh.dudes are constantly connecting with industry leaders and turfhead game-changers so that they can share with you what’s going on in the world of turf. You can subscribe on iTunes and Google Play Music, or tune in directly at www.harrells.com.