Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
Dr. Ron Landis — co-founder of Landis International along with Peggy Galloway — has a lot to cerebrate as Friday, Nov. 2 marked 30 years for the company.
The business has been serving the agricultural industry since its founding in 1982.
"We're a consulting company that obtains registrations for other companies," said Landis.
Landis modestly compares his business to changing oil in a car. While it's nothing any ordinary person can't do themselves, it's just easier to drop it off for an hour and pay to have it done. Much is the case when it comes to registering pesticides.
"We don't do anything that another company couldn't do," said Landis.
However, to his credit, to obtain a registration for a new chemical takes about six to seven years and costs anywhere between $35-50 million.
Pesticide registration is the process through which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines the ingredients of a pesticide, the site or crop on which it is to be used, the amount, the frequency and timing of its use, and storage and disposal practices. The registration of pesticides is mandated by law.
A lengthy and expensive process, Landis International assists 575 clients worldwide — including the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and India — in this process.
With more than 42 years in the business, Landis first found his interest as an undergraduate at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After discovering an interest in Biology, Landis obtained his degree in Botany, a discipline of biology that encompasses the study of plants.
He went to obtain his Master's and PhD. in Plant Pathology, the study of the diseases of plants, from Michigan State.
"That's just what I wanted to do," said Landis.
According to Landis, in his field there are few paths. Some work for the government, some work for universities and some work for industry.
"When I left college, I really wanted to work in industry," said Landis.
Landis always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He liked the idea that you are rewarded based on the amount of work you put in.
"What I found in industry is that you have a high probability of being able to tie the effort you put in into the rewards you get out of it," said Landis.
It's the age old tale of American business that rewards success with money.
"All of that depends on how well you do in your existing job," said Landis. "That's America."
According to Landis, when he started his business in 1982, it was an era in which government encouraged business.
"An era when we were coming off the Jimmy Carter years," said Landis.
If you look at the numbers now, according to Landis, 80 to 85 percent of all businesses in the United States fail in the first three years.
So the fact that Landis International has been in business for three decades is exemplary of its mission and its paramount belief in the structure of American business that only rewards those who work for it.
"We work very hard to make the business a success," said Landis. "I believe . . . that if you want to get twice as far in life, all you have to do is walk twice as fast or twice as long."
Landis and Landis International is where they are today because he worked for it and made sacrifices. According to Landis, life is all about a series of choices and the sacrifices you make.
"You can't have everything," said Landis. "In my opinion, you cannot have a highly successful business and not make sacrifices in other things."
This method of business principal has led Landis to lead a successful business and in turn a successful life.
He was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chemical Producers and Distributors Association (CPDA) for his contributions to the Agrochemical field and the Excellence in Industry Award from the American Phytopathological Society for his contribution to the industry over his career.
"The secret to being recognized by your peers is to live a long time," Landis modestly jokes.
However, the truth is Landis has led a long career in an incredibly successful business and these days, that means something. You don't see a lot of businesses branch out worldwide from humble beginnings in Valdosta.
Landis came to Valdosta in 1982 when he was recruited by the Griffin Corporation from Merck Pharmaceuticals. His co-founder, Galloway, was also recruited by Griffin while she was at Valdosta State University. The two met and just one year later, they founded Landis International.
When they decided they would open a business, they had a few options on where to base it. It would have made sense to open it in a place like Washington D.C. because that's where their competitors were. They could have also located more centrally in the country, but nevertheless, they chose Valdosta.
"Valdosta in 1982 was a wonderful place to bring up a family," said Landis.
He had young children and the schools were great, the taxes were reasonable and it was a college town.
"Valdosta has a lot of pluses," said Landis.
While the home office of Landis International is in Valdosta, he splits his time between his home in Lake Park, his ranch in Texas and his farm in Alabama.
It's easy for him to do — he's a pilot — so all he has to do is jump in one of his five planes and zip away.
"I've logged 12,000 hours," said Landis.
Though Landis International is wildly successful, according to Landis, a true entrepreneurial spirit never dies.
"When I get to Heaven I will probably set up a company up there as well," said Landis as he laughed.
During the last few years, Landis has started a number of new projects and businesses.
First, there is Envirologic, a company that will be a distributor of products that are good for the environment. Second, a Japanese-American Agricultural Chemical Development Corporation, which is a culmination of the work of three multi-billion dollar businesses.
Landis also has a television show called “In the Woods with Ron and Jerry,” which is a reality show on hunting that is shown on the Sportsman Channel.
"It never stops if you’re an entrepreneur," said Landis.
So after 30 years, two awards and other various business ventures, Landis is going strong and Landis International has become one of those businesses that's in it for the long-haul.