Paul Rea > Senior VP, Crop Protection, North America, BASF
There is a certain “je ne sais quoi” about Paul Rea, BASF’s newly appointed senior vice president, crop protection, North America, that makes people around him buzz with energy. It might be his New Zealand accent or his unfailingly positivity, but the company’s newest leader for crop chemicals is making changes people want to follow. It’s about creating the right partnership, the right chemistry between farmers and their crop protection supplier, Rea says. “We want to understand what growers face when it comes to their challenges: nutrition, fungicides, seed varieties, financial risk, insurance options,” he says. “Our goal is to offer a broad solutions package and create long-term relationships.”
To that end, Rea believes in the in-field BASF experts, called “Innovation Specialists,” who work one-on-one with producers. He is championing the company’s Grower’s Advantage lineup of risk-management programs, which include production plans and investment help. “We conduct grower panels, and they help us develop the products,” he adds. Products such as BASF’s Engenia herbicide, which helps manage glyphosate-resistant weeds in dicamba-tolerant crops, are created from farmer focus group discussions about farm needs. This is a culture shift for the conservative German company, and timely given that BASF will mark its 150th year by “looking forward, not backward.” Sales for BASF ag solutions North America in 2014 are approximately $1.7 billion. BASF is the third-largest crop chemical provider globally.
As a farm kid who has always loved agriculture and business, Rea has plenty of experience to lead the charge. He joined BASF Australia in 2001 and has held a number of positions within BASF, including vice president, U.S. crop operations. Most recently, Rea was senior vice president, crop protection, Asia-Pacific. “Any organization has to keep evolving; there are lots of changes we intend to roll out in the next few years,” he says. BASF’s tagline “We Create Chemistry” seems to apply not only to crop protection, but to the company’s new relationship with farmers.