Becoming a Feed Industry Leader
8 January 2021
By Danny Migliorisi
Territory Sales Manager
Throughout my 23 years in the pet nutrition industry, I always felt that day in and day out, my only job was calling on my customers and providing the best customer service possible and education about my company’s pet food products and services.
When it comes to being a salesperson, having empathy for your customer’s needs and being competitive, confident, enthusiastic and personable are traits every salesperson needs in their “toolbox.” But to be a great salesperson, PASSION, TRUST, WORTHINESS and INTEGRITY are qualities that set great salespeople apart from the good salespeople. Part of that passion is working above and beyond your everyday “job” to bring something else to the table and give back to the industry you serve.
Exploring New Frontiers
After 23 years in the complete pet food business, I was very fortunate to find myself back in the pet nutrition business with Trouw Nutrition USA in 2015. Whereas I had been selling complete pet food before, in my new role, I’d be selling ingredients, primarily vitamin and trace mineral premixes, to pet food manufacturers. My primary focus was still on dog and cat nutrition, an area I excelled in and thoroughly understood. That said, part of my new role with Trouw included an area of the animal feed business I had none, nada, no experience at all – equine nutrition!
I asked my then-manager, Chuck Hayden, VP of Sales, what I could do to learn more about the equine feed industry, and he responded that it just so happens that my predecessor represented Trouw on the American Feed Industry Association’s Equine Committee! He encouraged me to jump right onto the committee and rub elbows with some of my current customers and other industry experts.
With minimal knowledge (OK, NONE at all) of the equine industry, I wasn’t sure I brought enough experience and/or knowledge of this business segment to adequately represent Trouw Nutrition on the AFIA committee. Also, as I was still learning the ingredient/premix-selling side of the nutrition world, I’ll admit I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to commit to a three-year term on a committee dedicated to equine well-being within the industry.
While I’ve self-taught some thus far, I’ve most definitely leaned on several very knowledgeable and willing customers and coworkers to assist in my equine nutrition training to date, but I still have benefited tremendously from my time on the Equine Committee, taking me from uninformed novice to well-informed equestrian advocate.
A Rewarding Experience
This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and mask wearing became required.
Now here I am halfway through my second three-year term, and I must say this “commitment” has been one of the more rewarding work experiences in my almost 30 years in the pet nutrition industry. Part of that rewarding experience has not only been my introduction into equine nutrition and all it brings to this very interesting and extremely important segment of pet nutrition, but it has also afforded me the opportunity to see how in-depth the AFIA serves the industry in keeping all involved, updated and educated of federal and state guidelines.
I’m sure industry committees vary and serve their respective business segments in different ways, but the AFIA Equine Committee aims to keep individual members and member companies thoroughly informed about all relevant regulatory, legislative and trade concerns within the industry, as illustrated in its Statement of Purpose and in the committee’s Mission:
AFIA Equine Committee Statement of Purpose
The Equine Committee (EC) is composed of member companies interested in the manufacturing, marketing, sales and trade of equine feeds and ingredients. The committee exists to provide a forum for AFIA members to represent the regulatory, legislative and trade interests regarding the equine feed and ingredient industry and to educate members regarding the changing regulatory environment related to equine feeds and ingredients. The primary objectives are to address and communicate key issues and concerns with stakeholders and to impact the policies impacting equine feeds and ingredients.
AFIA Equine Committee Mission
To provide a forum for American Feed Industry Association members to represent the regulatory, legislative and trade interests regarding the equine feed and ingredient industry and to educate members regarding the changing regulatory environment related to equine feeds and ingredients.
Improving the Industry
Becoming a committee member gives us the opportunity to meaningfully contribute to and serve an organization and its mission. Committees are a great place to share individual and company ideas for overall improvement within the industry. I’m sure committees in other industries are composed of members with varying levels of seniority within their organizations, job titles and expertise and may even come from other lines of business to make the committee more diverse, but what I like about the AFIA Equine Committee is that its members all have a direct role within the equine feed and ingredient industry. All committee members have a vested interest in the decisions made, as they are all directly impacted.
While there are personal benefits to serving on committees, there are also benefits for represented companies as well.
- A Voice Within the Industry – The great thing about being part of a group with similar goals is that your ideas are always heard and concerns addressed. A committee gives industry members a forum for voicing suggestions, airing grievances and a place to discuss.
- Expand Your (and Your Company’s) Network – With the diverse mix of members (customers, competitors, manufacturers, etc.) and with a regular changing of the guard, so to speak, I’ve been able to continually meet a lot of very knowledgeable people and network with new and existing contacts. This interaction helps me continue to learn about the equine industry and better understand it as a whole, as well as the issues and concerns we face and what can be done to help address them.
- Intellectual Challenges – As previously stated, serving on a committee provided me with a way to learn more about the equine industry, and I’m still learning today through my involvement with the Equine Committee and its members. A primary goal of the Equine Committee is educating AFIA members about the regulation and trade segments of the industry, which can sometimes be overlooked.
- Improve Your Job Skills – Simply being in the same room (or now more likely on Zoom meetings) with other members with different roles within the industry, you often learn about great ideas and how others approach some of the same issues we all face. Simply listening to others can help provide information and ideas on ways to approach similar daily business challenges.
Opportunities to Serve
No matter your area of expertise within the feed industry, there are several different committees within the AFIA where you can offer your time and share your expertise within your niche segment. The committees below oversee the AFIA’s ongoing activities, interests and programs in very specific disciplines and reflect all segments of the total feed industry.
- Aquaculture Committee
- Equipment Manufacturers Committee
- Feed Regulatory Committee
- Ingredient Approval and Definition Committee
- International Trade Committee
- Liquid Feed Committee
- Marketing Committee
- Nutrition Committee
- Pet Food Committee
- Production Compliance Committee
- Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Committee
- Quality and Animal Food Safety Committee
- Sustainability Oversight Committee
In general, all committees are moderated by an AFIA staff member and members are expected to work together to oversee ongoing AFIA activities specific to each committee discipline. Typically, members are nominated for election each May, at the beginning of the AFIA’s fiscal year, to serve three-year terms. After each three-year term, members are required to sit off the committee for one year before resubmitting their name to serve on the same or another committee of interest.
Members are expected to attend both biannual (spring and fall) meetings and activity participate, which could include serving on sub-committees created to tackle specific projects or issues. If people or companies have interest in serving on a committee, visit the AFIA website to contact the AFIA staff person responsible for the specific committee.
Between 15-20 members actively serve on each committee, but there is also the opportunity for others to serve as part of Member Interest Groups (MIG). MIGs are directly “connected” to specific committees and are designed to provide members with an opportunity to share information with their colleagues throughout the industry and provide input that assists AFIA staff in developing issue positions, comments to government requests or other member services. MIG participation does not require regular meeting attendance and anyone can join.
In closing, remember, being part of an industry committee is a great way to have your (and your company’s) voice heard in the ever-changing environment of the feed industry. If you can’t serve personally, others within your organizations may benefit from what feed organizations, similar to the AFIA, have to offer individuals and member companies. Committees provide great opportunities to learn and monitor and access key information vital to your success and overall success of this great and very important industry. Find your interest and look to serve in whatever capacity you can.