Careers at ADM
Archer Daniels Midland’s mission is to be the most admired global agribusiness while creating value and growing responsibly.
Archer Daniels Midland is a provider of agricultural commodities. The firm operates four reportable business segments:
- Agricultural Services Segment – Utilizes its global grain elevator and transportation networks and port operations to buy, store, clean, and transport agricultural commodities, such as oilseeds, corn, wheat, milo, oats, rice, and barley, and resells these commodities primarily as food and feed ingredients and as raw materials for the agricultural processing industry.
- Corn Processing Segment – Engages in corn wet milling and dry milling activities, utilizing its asset base located in the central part of the U.S. with additional facilities in China, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
- Oilseeds Processing Segment – Engages in the origination, merchandising, crushing, and further processing of oilseeds such as soybeans and soft seeds (cottonseed, sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, and flaxseed) into vegetable oils and protein meals.
- Wild Flavors and Specialty Ingredients Segment – Engages in the manufacturing, sales, and distribution of specialty products including natural flavor ingredients, flavor systems, natural colors, proteins, emulsifiers, soluble fiber, polyols, hydrocolloids, natural health and nutrition products, and other specialty food and feed ingredients.
In 1878 Ohio-based John Daniels started crushing flaxseed oil in order to make linseed oil. In 1902 he left for Minnesota, where he founded the Daniels Linseed Company. It made boiled linseed oil, raw linseed oil, and linseed cake. In 1903 George Archer joined. His family had been crushing flaxseed since the 1830s. In 1905 the firm’s name was changed to Archer-Daniels Linseed Company.
The company’s goal was to achieve year-round production at low margins. In 1923 it acquired Midland Linseed Products Company and was renamed the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). Its profits were initially low, though it achieved slow growth through some acquisitions, such as the Toledo Seed & Oil Company and the Dellwood Elevator Company, a grain elevator firm.
The next two decades saw a number of milestones. The team established a research and development program to investigate methods for changing the chemical structure of oil. It also purchased several oil processing firms. In 1930 it bought Commander-Larabee Company, a flour miller, enabling it to coordinate their byproduct businesses and lower overhead costs.
ADM also grew by diversifying – specifically, by exploring uses for its oils outside of food. It started by supplying oils for the paint products industry, eventually expanding to the markets for soaps, drugs, brake fluids, lubricants, petroleum, and chemicals. Recognizing the value of its R&D program, the company reserved 70% of its revenues for product development purposes.
The advent of World War II enabled ADM to increase its facilities and capacities. By 1945 its flaxseed processing capacity grew to 20 million bushels per day; its wheat flour capacity grew to 30 million bushels per day; and its grain storage capacity grew to 50.4 million bushels per day. By 1949 sales grew 287% to reach $277 million, with a net profit of $12 million.
At this point ADM was the nation’s top processor of linseed oil, the largest soybean processor, and the fourth largest flour miller. It also served the paint, leather, printing, gasoline, paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber, ceramics, munitions, and insecticides industries. In the 1990s and 2000s, it grew even further through plant openings and multiple acquisitions of firms with similiar businesses.
Benefits at ADM
Business model of ADM
ADM has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets its offerings at firms in all industries that utilize agricultural products.
ADM offers three primary value propositions: innovation, convenience, and brand/status.
The company has embraced innovation throughout its history. It operates a global research and development network that includes a sensory testing team that conducts detailed evaluations. It also maintains a cutting-edge culinary center, advanced pilot plants, and laboratories worldwide.
The company offers convenience by making life simpler for customers. It created e-ADM, an online customer portal that provides real-time news and information as well as a variety of useful tools. Specific services offered through the platform include the following:
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – This service enables users to electronically send and receive a wide variety of documents including invoices, purchase orders, advanced shipment notifications, and purchase order changes.
- Documents Retrieval – This service allows users to receive invoices and contracts electronically. It also provides electronic storage of documents, enabling customers to save warehouse space.
- Online Inventory Services – These services feature patent-pending technology that offers real-time bulk ingredient monitoring through tank sensors and can send low inventory e-mail alerts. Inventory data is available 24/7 and the system provides customizable inventory reports and forecasting.
- PayADM – This service enables users to make payments or prepay shipments 24/7. It also maintains a complete payment history, including statements and invoices. It is completely free.
- Rail Car Tracking – This service provides up-to-the-minute data on shipment status, allowing users to trace shipments from anywhere so they can plan shipments orders and production runs.
- FarmerView – This service provides real-time information in areas such as commodity news, local and national weather, futures, ADM location grain bids, and ADM Grain market intelligence.
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It is one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers, with over 32,300 employees serving customers in over 160 countries. It generated $67.7 billion in revenues in 2015. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:
- Frost & Sullivan Product Leadership Award
- Corporate Achievement Award from the American Oil Chemists Society
- Most Innovative Food Ingredient Award at the Food Ingredients Europe exhibition
- Presidential Green Chemistry Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
ADM’s main channel is its direct sales team. The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, print/television/radio advertising, and participation in conferences.
ADM’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. Despite this orientation, there is a co-creation element.
The company invites customers who are serious about product design and development to work with its R&D team through joint development agreements. These clients receive access to culinary and nutritional assistance, technical and application support, and state of-the-art equipment.
ADM’s business model entails processing and distributing agricultural commodities for its customers.
ADM’s key partners are the suppliers who provide the raw materials it needs to carry out its operations. The raw materials are largely agricultural commodities, and the suppliers include thousands of growers, grain elevators, and wholesale merchants in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. ADM is also a member of over 200 business and trade associations, and thus maintains informal partnerships with fellow members.
ADM’s main resources are its physical resources, which include its 428 crop procurement locations, 280 ingredient manufacturing facilities, 39 innovation centers, and crop transportation network. The company owns 2,000 barges, 13,400 rail cars, 200 trucks, 1,300 trailers, and 10 oceangoing vessels; and leases 500 barges, 14,800 rail cars, 400 trucks, 110 trailers, and 21 oceangoing vessels.
ADM has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is cost of products sold, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, both fixed costs.
ADM has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from sales of its products to customers. Sales typically occur through the signing of short- and long-term contracts.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering at the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology. He previously held several leadership positions at ADM, including EVP and Chief Operating Officer and President.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University and a JD at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He previously served in ethics and compliance roles at Coca-Cola and at Capital One Financial Corporation.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Illinois. He previously served as President of ADM’s Corn Processing business and as General Manager for ADM Cocoa North America.
info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario and an MBA at the University of Chicago. He previously held leadership roles at General Motors Corporation, where he worked for 24 years.
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