Interviewed by Kevin Kimle - Excerpts
Kimle: What for you are the most interesting opportunities in agriculture? Rastetter: I think the protein sector is going to continue to offer a lot of opportunities given that production needs to double in the next generation. Agricultural technology offers a lot of opportunities also, but it is more complicated to anticipate who the winners and losers will be and which markets will develop. K: When you think about entrepreneurs that impacted you during the course of your career, what are some of the skills or behaviors or important lessons that you've drawn from them?
R: One of the behaviors that seems consistent is curiosity and learning. One of the really interesting things in life is to meet someone in their late seventies or early eighties who still wants to learn new things. One of the entrepreneurs that has been influential in my life is Dick Jacobson. I met him when he was 68 years old, but he still wanted to learn new things. He invested in some of our businesses, but had done multiple things over time in his lifetime. The driving desire to learn new things is a consistent trait of people that want to continue to make a difference in life and do significant things. K: You built one of the largest ethanol businesses in the United States in the early 2000’s, Hawkeye Energy, and now you have built the first corn ethanol plant in Brazil with plans for a second. What are some of the important differences between the U.S. and Brazil in building an ethanol business? R: One of the challenges is culture. In particular, trying to make sure that the business has a high sense of urgency, even as the same business concepts apply. Our challenge has been making sure that we hire people that think like us in terms of business culture.