As the new Director of Product Development for FMC Professional Solutions, Robin Slatter faces a host of responsibilities. In addition to overseeing development of new products for the U.S. pest, turf management and nursery/greenhouse industries, he will provide leadership and develop strategy for the entire division.
A native of England who holds a degree in applied biology from the University of Hertfordshire, Slatter has 35 years experience in product development, technical service, sales, marketing and strategy. But just what makes him tick? We asked him a few questions to find out.
Q: What was your greatest influence in pursuing a career in applied biology/product development?
A: I had a childhood interest in wildlife — especially insects — so it was somewhat of a natural progression.
Q: We know you are British, but have lived in America for many years. What do you still miss about life in England?
A: Football (the one played with the foot) and warm beer! To be fair, not only is it as easy to see English football on TV here as it is in the UK now, but with my son I am now a season ticket holder to New York Red Bulls soccer team in MLS. There are also lots of microbrews now in the U.S., although beer is still served too cold!
Q: Given your previous experience in the pest/turf management industries, what do you see as the biggest challenges for these industries in the next few years?
A: The greatest challenge is to provide applicators sufficient tools to control a broad spectrum of pests/diseases, in an environment where costs of introducing new product and pesticide classes are increasing rapidly, while older products are being withdrawn.
Q: What advice would you give to a young pest management/turf management professional?
A: Know your enemy (pest or disease), know your tools (the products) and understand the regulations. Take full advantage of networking meetings and training opportunities offered at trade association meetings and through trade publications. Manufacturers are also a great source of information.
Q: What kinds of changes have you seen over the past 20 years in the way products are developed for the pest and turf management industries?
A: Data requirements and cost of data generation have increased significantly. Each pest on a label requires supportive efficacy data. For a manufacturer, this forces careful prioritization of product developments.
At FMC, an emphasis on ‘quality’ is also a key part of the development process. Recently, we initiated a renewed focus on our core segments and reinvigorated our innovation process to build a stronger product pipeline for our customers. Nothing is more important to us than exceeding our customer’s expectations for service, support and new products.
Q: How do you spend your time outside of work – do you have any favorite activities or hobbies?
A: I play squash whenever I can, and watch as much soccer as I’m allowed!