Netafim holding company undergoes important changes

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It has been almost two years since Netafim and Mexichem partnered for success. Mexichem completed its acquisition of an 80% stake in Netafim in February 2018.

Following the acquisition, Netafim continued its prosperous path as the world leader in precision irrigation solutions. The transaction further strengthened Netafim’s global leadership position, while leveraging the buyer’s increased resources, geographic reach, product portfolio and extensive experience in operations.

On 5 September 2019, the next phase was entered when Daniel Martinez-Valle, CEO of the former Mexichem, announced Mexichem’s new brand, values, purpose and name. The global company will now be known as Orbia and will be driven by its chosen purpose to ‘advance life around the world’.

Why change?

The change is prompted by the massive transformation and growth of the company, founded in 1953, has undergone since its name change to Mexichem in 2005. “To become a future-fit, purpose-driven company, we need to organise ourselves in a way that serves our customers best. Every single one of us has a role to play in addressing the global challenges we face— and they can only be tackled if we work together and shift our thinking from ‘me’ to ‘we’,” Martinez-Valle said.

“It took a lot of work and many conversations to understand how we are perceived as a company and how we can transform ourselves. It was a long journey to develop the concept of Orbia. Today, we are ready to launch, we are ready to be open to the world, we are ready to share our ambition, we are ready to share how we will solve challenges and we are ready to work as a team.”

As Orbia’s representative in the agricultural industry, Netafim played an active and important role in this journey.

The brand story

In his announcement, Martinez-Valle placed a lot of focus on the company’s long-term commitment to people, planet and profit and the force with which it wants to continue to impact the world.

It is this global impact that birthed the name, Orbia. ‘ Orb’ is the Latin word for spherical globe. ‘Bia’ is a word from Greek mythology for the personification of force. Orbia can be translated as ‘a force for the world’.

Orbia’s new name and long-term business strategy position the company to respond to global opportunities to ensure food security, reduce water scarcity, reinvent the future of cities and homes, connect communities around the world to global data infrastructure, and expand access to health and wellness with advanced materials through innovation and customer-centricity, elevating the company’s ongoing commitment to improving quality of life for people and communities around the world. Chemicals, mining, and manufacturing will continue to be important parts of Orbia’s overall business, but the name change reflects a broader, more inclusive expression of the company’s global impact.

Orbia is a community of companies bound together by a shared purpose: to advance life around the world. To achieve its purpose, Orbia is now organised in five business groups. These business groups deal with industries that are vital to how we live today and what tomorrow will look like.

The five business groups are:
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Building and Infrastructure
  • Fluor
  • Data Communication
  • Polymer Solutions

Precision agriculture

Orbia’s involvement in precision agriculture is achieved through Netafim. The company has 29 subsidiaries across the globe, one of which Netafim South Africa is housed in Kraaifontein in the Western Cape.

The goals set for this business group is to enable farmers to achieve higher and better-quality yields while using less water, fertiliser and other inputs.

Status quo

Following the announcement, Martinez-Valle was asked what his central message to customers is. He highlighted that nothing will change in the day-to-day operations in the different business groups. “In the same breath, a lot will change as we set out to become much more customer-centric. We want to come closer to the customer.”

Netafim’s leadership reiterated this message. “We would like to clarify that Netafim’s brand, purpose, and values will remain the same, only now they are strongly connected to Orbia’s new brand and values. There will be no change in day-to-day operations. We are excited to continue driving Orbia and Netafim’s purpose in the SADC region,” said Etienne Erasmus, MD of Netafim South Africa.

The Orbia ImpactMark

Orbia knows that its goals are fluid and want to share their progress as they strive towards its aspired goals. This led the brand development team to create an ImpactMark, rather than a logo. The ImpactMark is an ever-changing measure of the company’s commitment to long-term financial health, environmental sustainability, and social progress.

Plotted on a circular grid, the ImpactMark measures progress against six factors related to people, planet, and profit. It will be updated each year to reflect the latest data, demonstrating progress toward the company’s ambitious goals over time. “We’re constantly striving, trying to make a perfect circle, knowing we’ll never achieve perfection,” said Martinez-Valle.

The set goals are:
  1. Optimise investments
  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Evolve to an innovative solutions provider
  4. Reduce waste generated
  5. Upskill the workforce
  6. Increase women in management

For more information visit www.netafim.co.za or www.orbia.com. – Press release, Netafim South Africa