When Thomas Martinez began to study agricultural engineering he didn't expect that a few years later he would travel worldwide with the product portfolio of Futureco Bioscience under his arm. His work is halfway between business and technical adviser, and has contributed to the sweet moment of a company that continues to grow and still feels that it’s on the go. Thomas Martinez, now Director of Market Development and Product Manager, opens to answer why the two years he expected to be in Futureco Bioscience have become five, and is still motivated to face the new challenges of the company.
How did you land in Futureco Bioscience?
After studying Agricultural Technical Engineering in Barcelona, Agronomy in Almería and living in Estonia, dedicating myself to do market research in the Baltic countries for an exporter of fruits and vegetables, I decided to look for a job to be in contact with the field and apply all the things I had learned.
And you ran into this company.
Well, I really applied to a job offer as Product Manager of Biopesticides.
Was it suggestive for you?
To be honest, the issue of plant pathology had never attracted me because it was quite far from my expertise. However, what attracted me most was that Futureco Bioscience was a SMEs company that looked to the future. I wanted to do new things and I was interested in the practical aspect of having that experience.
How was your start?
During the first year I learned about the distribution structure in Spain, Italy and Greece of Futureco Bioscience’s biopesticides. It had more to do with the job of a Product Manager. I had to highlight the benefits of the products, find new business opportunities to develop in different markets and restructure some commercial channels with new distributors. That was the beginning of my work (although I'm possible going more below).
You allowed to surprise and liked your work.
The truth is that the first week I thought that this new experience will last 1 or 2 years, and since then five years have passed to see even more ambitious projects in the company!
Since you entered, how has the business changed?
In these five years we have seen the evolution from being physically separated (laboratories, factory and offices) to get together in the new headquarters in Olèrdola. I had the luck to be in a position in which I was related to all of them, and both the practical features of the company and the feedback of the customers. Now we have gained in efficiency and internal knowledge. Futureco Bioscience is becoming bigger, and in that process it is maybe depersonalizing, which is necessary for any company that intends to grow. Even so, I think it’s still a very human company, with the DNA of the CEO Rafael Juncosa and the character that each member of the team prints.
However, from the beginning, the company already had an international vocation. One of the missions was to recover the structure and try to grow in Spain.
And there was little to the point Lehman Brothers fell and the crisis started.
The situation in Spain when I entered the company waved a bit, yes. The distribution was failing and to resolve this threat was one of the tasks we had to perform. As a small company, we’d better choose not to be exposed to credit risk. The crisis didn’t affect really Futureco Bioscience because the 97% of its income was international. Not growing in Spain was almost impossible. The idea was to start to do it. We moved a lot the supply of biopesticides and bio-stimulants and started to get attention of partners. That helped our positioning in the market. Even globally, many people are approaching Futureco Bioscience seeing something different and innovative in our products.
And how has the company changed you?
Very much! For me this has been my first serious job experience. The first professional applicability of my career and my studies. I had to do same training on business marketing, so I did a Master at EADA in the second year in Futureco Bioscience because I saw that I needed more knowledge to give a greater thrust to our products.
Was it useful?
Yes, although it is difficult to bridge the gap between theory and its practical applicability in a small business. It costs more. To learn concepts and knowing how to direct them to the market.
And his personal assessment of the experience?
No doubt I am very grateful. In these five years the company has provided me many opportunities. It is a company where you can grow and is very difficult to get stuck. You provide a high level of commitment and energy, but you also have a lot of autonomy, you can play and learn many roles and you end up learning from export registration issues, to marketing, negotiation, trade...
You're a multi-tasking person!
You become multidisciplinary, yes, and it is something that all who we work here share a little and has to do with flexibility. Being a small company where each worker brings its character to the organization, and not the other way around.
The diagram of organizations.
This company is dynamic and cyclic. It is a company in which we are all committed and it is quite an achievement to get a young team so motivated. That is only theoretically but also requires talent by the management team.
What are your goals professionally within the company or what you would like to contribute from now on?
Henceforth I wish I could give back to the company a strong and sustainable business strategy. Finally, a company lives of what it sells, and how well is it doing in research and developmente, in a time when credit is very difficult, if you don't get financed through the sale is difficult to arrive at good port. The company is growing and needs to get stronger where it is already present at the same time it reaches new markets. We have an ambitious project to 4 years and from that point of view I would like to form a strong sales team that is capable of carrying out the growth strategy we have set and achieve our business goals. That's my next project.
And what has been the most difficult in all these years of your work?
The hardest challenge has been, perhaps, the novice. Having to do activities with little input from people around. In college you're used to work in teams, but in the company and when the projects start, you have more responsibilities and less supervision. Here the parameters are changed. That independence is double-sided. Is autonomy while insecurity, because nobody is saying if you're doing right or wrong, until it happens. That was hard, but eventually you get used to work well, to be faster. Once you're released in this dynamic you understand the need to act and move fast.
What about now?
Now the hardest is to manage a wide variety of projects in many countries (currently 22), to find and apply the theory when Futureco Bioscience is a dynamic company. That causes it to be difficult to apply the standards of how to develop a plan of marketing, how to conduct a commercial development, etc.
And the most satisfactory?
No doubt that I'm able to say that after being five years at a company I'm still motivated by new projects and new things that are coming. I think that's the most positive and that everyone wants to have always that feeling. At the same time the experience I'm gaining is fantastic. I'm playing from simple organizational issues to matters of contracts with multinationals who are talking about investing capital to develop joint projects, major projects. That is the most satisfying. To have these opportunities and the background.
Could you recommend us a book?
The one I'm already reading. It's called "Start-up Nation", and was recommended by an interesting person I met at a conference in Berlin. It has to do with a state that has been able to develop a cluster of start-ups, jumping from one sector to another, as well as features that make it conducive to entrepreneurship.
I like many movies, but now I propose a comical and tender one, such as Little Miss Sunshine.
Finally, what are you passionate about or you love to do in your spare time?
Basically, be with my family, my friends and my wife. She has good taste and knows how to appreciate the little things in life. I enjoy accompanying her.