© 2017 Canpotex Limited
Canpotex celebrates 40 years of building relationships
For Canpotex Limited, four decades of shipping Saskatchewan potash around the world has taught its people the importance of building relationships.
“Our long-held belief in the value of strong relationships built on trust and understanding has been the foundation of our business for the past 40 years and will continue to guide our organization long into the future,” said Steven Dechka, President and Chief Executive Officer of Canpotex.
“When Canpotex first started selling potash in 1972, the company was determined to create its own path to success. Today, we’re the world’s premier potash exporter and are proud of the relationships we’ve built with partners and friends around the world.”
Making a global impact
Over the years, Canpotex has developed market development programs that help farmers around the world capture the value of potash. First launched in the 1980s, these programs now run across Asia and South America, connecting with producers who need to grow more food for more people as the global population rises.
And to move Saskatchewan potash from the heart of the Prairies to port facilities on the west coast, Canpotex developed a world-class infrastructure system that’s unmatched in the industry. From renting railcars in 1972, the company now owns a fleet of 5,000 specialized railcars, has an ownership share in Neptune Terminals in Vancouver and built its own terminal facility in Portland, Oregon – investing tens of millions of dollars in its terminals to make them as efficient as possible.
From those ports, potash is loaded onto partner vessels – such as the Ultra Saskatchewan launched in 2010 – and sent to customers in Asia, Europe, South America and Oceania. In 2011, Canpotex contracted the construction of three new vessels. To be delivered between 2013 and 2014, the new ships will increase its total number of vessels to 18 and expand its transportation network yet again.
“Our rail, port and shipping network is essential to our business – Canpotex wouldn’t have the reach it has today without our infrastructure system,” Dechka said. “While this is an important part of Canpotex, nothing is more important to us than our customers around the world who receive those potash shipments.”
As the company built relationships, expanded its infrastructure network and launched market development programs, it also marked significant milestones. In 1986, Canpotex became one of the first Canadian companies to run advertising on Chinese television. The company shipped its 100 millionth tonne of potash in 2000, and four years later surpassed annual gross sales revenue of US $1 billion for the first time. By the end of 2011, the organization sold a record 9.8 million tonnes of potash – a more than three-fold increase from sales of 2.7 million tonnes at the end of the 1970s.
Canpotex was also one of the first Canadian companies to open offices in China and Southeast Asia. Today, the organization has an important corporate office in Singapore and is a key agricultural supplier to the Asian region.
Bringing the world to Saskatchewan
While the exporter has an international focus, it has always been committed to its home province of Saskatchewan. Canpotex’s global business has helped to put the Prairie province on the map through information about potash and customer visits to the company’s home office.
In September 2012, more than 220 people from around the world gathered in Saskatoon to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. The gathering, said Dechka, illustrates the importance of building relationships.
“Our four decades of experience sending Saskatchewan potash around the globe has taught our people and our company many lessons, but none more important than the power of strong relationships,” he said.
“Without our global network of partners, business associates and personal acquaintances, Canpotex may not have found the success it has today. Moreover, the market for Saskatchewan potash may not be so strong.”
As Canpotex works to improve its business and set new potash sales records, there’s no doubt it will be building more relationships along the way.