A cold front swept its way across the Central Valley last month, turning the 2023 World Ag Expo into one of the chilliest events in the show’s 47-year history. That didn’t stop 1,500 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees from showing up to the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California. Among those participants was Sam Baldivia, the Irrigation Sales Manager at FGS.
If there’s a World Ag Expo expert at FGS, it’s Sam. He’s been attending the annual trade shows for 15 years. To him, the expos are more than a chance to promote FGS; they’re an opportunity to show support for the entire agricultural community, too.
“Coming out of Covid, last year’s expo was a little slow,” he admits. “This year was different. It felt like a huge hit for everyone in the industry. I saw a lot of new technology and new telemetry being offered.”
FGS’ physical presence at the World Ag Expo was the biggest it’s ever been, with the company occupying four booths in Pavilion B. Baldivia’s team created a comfortable layout that included astro turf, tables & chairs, and plenty of room for growers to relax. The space was eye catching, but more importantly, it offered tired attendees a place to sit down and have a conversation.
“We upgraded our booth size by four times,” Baldivia explains. “It became a place where customers could be comfortable and chit chat. That was my whole aim. The expo is really big; it takes a few thousand steps to walk around. We wanted to give people a place where they go and talk, whether it was about work or not.”
During the three-day expo, Baldivia found himself fielding questions from young college students who were planning to launch their own careers in agriculture. “They were wondering what we do in irrigation,” he remembers. “They wanted to know what the designs were like, what the pay was like, and how they could enter this field. I told them why they should stay in agriculture.”
The World Ag Expo also gave FGS’ irrigation department a chance to showcase its newly-launched installation crew. In the past, FGS would design a client’s irrigation system, then hire a sub-contractor to physically install it. That changed in October 2021, when the irrigation department cut out the middleman and began using its own crew. Three crews are currently in operation. “We do it all: excavation, trenching, concrete work, welding, installation of irrigation pipeline, tubing, and troubleshooting,” Baldivia says.
“In the FGS booths, we had some posters showing our installation crews in action,” he adds. “We also had monitors showing some of our installations — real time pictures and videos of our crews going to work. For the first time we’re providing that work in-house, and not contracting that work out. It gives us a lot of flexibility when it comes to scheduling and availability. If our customers have an emergency, we can be there with an installation crew. We don’t have to rely on someone else.”
There’s already a date on the calendar for next year’s World Ag Expo: February 13-15, 2024. Sam Baldivia will be there, representing FGS once again.