Face to Face

August 8, 2012 09:47 AM
Face to Face

This Israel-based company uses Expo to personally reach out to customers

Even highly successful, well-established businesses need a venue for keeping their customers up to date on the products and services they offer. World Dairy Expo provides just that kind of venue for dairy-related businesses.

Recent developments at S.A.E. Afikim, a leading manufacturer of computerized systems for dairy parlor management, are a case in point. Launched in Israel in the late 1970s, S.A.E. Afikim markets its products under the brand name "afimilk" in 50 countries.

To distribute its products to customers throughout the world, the company has traditionally relied on the relationships it builds with major milking equipment manufacturers and other dairy-related businesses. Last year, though, the company made a major move by setting up a subsidiary—S.A.E. Afikim USA, Inc.—to streamline distribution in North America.

"All over the world, companies involved in the dairy industry look at North America as an extremely important market," says Noa Yonish, marketing communications director for S.A.E. Afikim in Israel.

"There is tremendous potential for us here. Our feeling was that if we could establish our own subsidiary, we’d be able to reach more potential customers and grow our company. This is our first subsidiary. If we’re successful here, we feel like we have a chance to be successful all over
the world," he adds.

The business move made sense for a variety of reasons, says Joe Bleau, director of North American business operations for Afikim USA. "By having our own network of dealerships, we’ll be able to service the dealers, our customers, better," says Bleau, who is based in Massilon, Ohio. "Operating this way will allow them to increase efficiencies and make a better profit. As a result, dairies will experience a higher value for the products they purchase from us."

Having a presence at World Dairy Expo plays an important part in Afikim’s strategy for familiarizing dairy producers and others in the dairy business with the company’s new dealership structure.

"The biggest thing about being here is that we can have direct, face-to-face contact with the dairy owners and our dealers," Bleau says. "We saw the benefits of that at our booth last year. So many people sought us out, wanting to know about the changes we were making and what those changes would mean for them. The reception we got from people was overwhelmingly positive."

Expo also gives the company another platform for showcasing existing and new products. Last year, an electronic online milk analyzer, AfiLab, drew crowds to Afikim’s Expo booth. Installed directly on the parlor milking line, the lab provides online, real-time readings for fat, lactose, protein, somatic cell levels and more.

"There’s really nothing else like that anywhere in the world," Yonish says. "There was a tremendous amount of interest in it at Expo."

Bleau’s take-home message on why exhibiting at Expo is worthwhile for his company: "This is a dairy-focused show. To get to the things you want to see at other shows, you have to sort your way around a lot of different products that don’t really have any connection to the dairy business. Here, it’s all about dairy. That’s great for us, because dairy is what we do."

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