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Look at a few photographs of Gilson Trennepohl and you start to notice something. Whether he’s making a pilgrimage along the ancient Camino de Santiago trail in Spain or posing in front of a modern farm tractor, there’s a good chance he’s smiling and giving you a thumbs up.

Trennepohl is the CEO of Stara, a Brazilian company that makes seed spreaders, agricultural sprayers, tractors, and a full range of farm equipment.

To say that this guy has a positive attitude would be a bit of an understatement.

Here is a man who clearly loves life, family, and being part of a business that does its best to help to feed the world.

Positiva no Brasil

“The beautiful thing about Stara is that it is a family-owned company born in a small workshop and inspired by a parents’ dream to create a legacy for their children,” Trennepohl says.

But Stara didn’t stay small for long.

What started out in the 1960s as a regional business in the south of Brazil, today exports its machinery to more than 35 countries around the world. In fact, Stara is now growing faster than a field of spring wheat. Trennepohl believes much of the company’s spectacular growth is rooted in its use of technology.

Stara’s agricultural machinery incorporates some very high-tech componentry. This includes GPS-guided automatic steering and internet-connected telemetry systems that can provide farmers real-time information such as planting and spraying rates, overlap percentages, and color-coded application maps.

“There is a lot of talk about the internet of things,” says Trennepohl, “but we are actually making it happen out in the fields every day.”

That’s good, because according to a publication from The Economist, between now and 2050 the planet’s population is likely to rise from the present 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion. The authors believe that if agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing with its increasing use of newer technologies.

Manufacturers like Stara perhaps.

Precision Agriculture, Precision Business Operations

Information technology plays an important role in Stara’s own business operations.

In-memory computing supported by the SAP HANA platform and cloud solutions from SAP SuccessFactors, for example, are helping the company run with greater speed, agility, and immediacy.

Stara has been able to reduce inventory and rev up its material requirements planning. The company has also strengthened integration between itself, equipment retailers, and the farmers who put the machines to work.

“I think it’s the dream of every entrepreneur to be able to track their business in real time,” Trennepohl says. “We can now track and monitor a machine anywhere in the world as it moves from our factory floor to the farm field.”

In addition, greater access to information enables Stara’s 2,000 employees – which now include fourth-generation members of the founding family – to build their individual careers. Trennepohl explains that Stara is implementing a new HR and training portal that he believes will let both the company and its employees “to continue growing together.”

A Beautiful Goal Too

Agriculture is extremely important in Brazil, and the country produces hundreds of millions of tons of crops such as coffee, soybeans, wheat, corn, and sugarcane each year for both export and domestic use. And southern Brazil, where Stara is headquartered, is considered home to the country’s more advanced farming technology.

Trennepohl is justifiably proud of the industry and the manufacturing companies that support it.

“Farmers are heroes; they feed the world,” he says. “Farming may be one of the most beautiful professions in the world.”

You come to expect such upbeat remarks from Trennepohl, and the CEO’s sentiments are genuine.

“My goals are simple,” says Trennepohl. “I just want to make modern farm machinery that improves productivity and helps generate more food to feed the planet.”

Here’s a thumbs-up right back at you, Gilson.

Please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

You can hear more from Gilson Trennepohl in this SAP video where he describes how his company is using SAP solutions to support Stara’s goal to Run Live.
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