January 21, 2019
Nick Ktoris, Sentek's Chief Exeucitive Officer, shares his insights on Sentek's 28-year success story.
South Australian based agricultural technology company Sentek is well-known for revolutionising soil moisture, fertiliser and salinity management with its high-quality range of probes and sensing solutions.
Since its inception in 1991, Sentek has commercialised 30 new products, including 10 complete product ranges, during this time going from a start-up to mature company that services a range of international markets.
Under one of the founders Peter Buss, Sentek successfully got off the ground securing seed capital to establish itself in the market. With the majority of funding coming from rural producers who had themselves gained benefits from using the soil moisture probes, the backing was a strong endorsement of the product offering.
Following its first nine years of operation, at the time now-CEO Nick Ktoris joined the company, there was a need for further growth and improved business systems and processes.
By identifying the drivers behind the demand for Sentek’s technology, the company began to change the way they delivered their products to existing customers, and plans to enter new markets began taking shape.
The company shifted its focus from solely proprietary products to having an open integration platform, working with other technology companies to provide complete solutions to a range of different markets.
“We kept refining our products and looked at open architecture,” Nick said. “When we first started, it was very much a proprietary product, locking users in – you had to have our logger, our probe and our software for it all to work together.
“It was a risky turning point for the business in the sense that you could give up some market share, but it actually grew our market. It was like a multiplying effect, because rather than needing the one dealer to sell the one product, Sentek now had 10 dealers selling a part of our product.”
While the development of Sentek’s open communication platform and product development was one part of the company’s growth journey, another part was the market development side. Sentek began to put more emphasis on its markets and positioning strategy.
Having identified the USA as a viable market for Sentek to establish a presence, a new company Sentek USA Inc., was established nine years ago. Since then, over 60 dealers have been recruited to sell the range, a warehouse has been setup, and a team managing sales and customer service has been put in place.
Looking ahead, Nick believes Sentek’s growth will be underpinned by the company’s continued focus on research and development, ensuring their reputation for delivering reliable technology that meets the needs of advanced agricultural, irrigation, and environmental managers.
“Innovation is why we’re still around today, and we put quite a bit of money back into the business for research and development.”
“We are working on technologies that have never been created before. Like any business, whether they come off or not, there’s always an element of risk there. We have a number of exciting projects moving through the cycle at the moment – which I believe will change the way we operate, especially in the agricultural sector.
“Our base in South Australia has provided us with advantages in product development and improves our speed to market. We are able to test our technologies in a range of agricultural settings, from grapes grown in clay soils through to the sandy loams used for potatoes – all within a few hours drive of our office,” Nick said.
“We have also enjoyed collaborating with researchers from our local universities, working together to commercialise new technologies to support smart farming.”
Sentek probes have become the hardware of choice for many of the world’s leading agricultural technology platforms and management systems. Alignment to new communication protocols and networks ensures they remain relevant in a fast-changing market.
L-R: EnviroSCAN Probe, Asset 10, Complete
Sentek provides technologies for precision measurement and management of soil water and salinity dynamics. Used in a diverse range of applications, Sentek products are sold and supported through a global network of highly trained distributors.
Sentek’s well-known brands include the EnviroSCAN and Drill & Drop probes for continuous monitoring. The high-resolution data is transferred via a range of data capture and telemetry options and displayed in the acclaimed IrriMAX soil water management software.