The Mosaic Co. Stays Agile to Remain at the Top of its Game
Mosaic has more than 29 million tons of operational capacity for finished concentrated phosphate and potash production.
Some companies might get complacent once they become leaders in their niches, but not The Mosaic Co. The competition in the phosphate and potash market keeps the Tampa, Fla.-based company on its toes.
“Because of that, we need to become very agile as far as how we conduct our business,” Vice President of Procurement Chris Martus declares. “It requires you to keep on top of your game when you have global competitors who have different wage structures and different asset qualities.”
Mosaic, which is the world’s largest combined producer of potash and phosphates, was formed in 2004 when Cargill’s phosphate business merged with IMC. Today, it is headquartered in Florida’s Bone Valley region. “It was really the center of the global phosphate market for 100 years,” Martus says.
Today, the Fortune 500 company has more than 29 million tons of operational capacity for finished concentrated phosphate and potash production. While its largest centers of operation are in central Florida and Brazil, it also has joint ventures in Saudi Arabia and Peru.
Martus, who joined Mosaic in 2013, notes that the company stays competitive by constantly focusing on how it can more efficiently use its systems to lower costs. “That goes all the way through our procurement process,” he says.
Through this strategy, Mosaic looks at how it can partner with suppliers that have technologies that will save its workers time. “That is really the focus that we’re trying to go after,” he says.
Mosaic’s recent initiatives have included looking at better ways to utilize its surplus assets. “We’ve undergone a lot of work trying to determine how we can sell our scrap at a better price and how we can time the sale of certain products,” Martus says.
One product is white iron, which Mosaic often uses in its pumps and valves. Because the material is very specialized, “We can sell it for a return,” he says, adding that the company also strives to be very strategic about how it stockpiles the material.
“The whole idea is to make the procurement group not only a way of cost-cutting but also a way to generate some revenue,” Martus says. His department has generated more than $5 million in savings in these efforts, he adds.
But the procurement group has no intention of stopping there. “We’re looking to make even more [improvements],” he says. Mosaic plans to look at other areas, including how it can better merchandise products and reuse them internally when possible.
Mosaic has seen positive results from its investments in RFID technologies. Currently, Martus says, the majority of its phosphate and potash group storerooms are RFID-enabled.
This allows the company to keep track of inventory such as phosphate assets that have a value of more than $100 million. He notes that the process started a year ago, when the company wanted to better locate physical items.
“We now have a system in place where we put up some readers at entry points,” Martus says. This system allows the company to track contracted laborers in its facilities who have RFID tags within their hard hats.
If a company bills Mosaic for 10 hours of work on a specific day, Martus says, it can see in its system if that person was on site for that period of time. Although Mosaic may not be able to tell exactly what that person was doing, “We’re ahead of where we used to be,” he notes.
Mosaic has yet to calculate how much money it has saved with the RFID system, but Martus says it has helped the company ensure that it is paying for the correct amount of services. “When we’ve gone back and challenged contractors, we always have the data and a rationale for pushing back when we see that things aren’t the way they should be,” he says.
Mosaic has gained this advantage at very low cost. “The RFID tags have gotten down to just a couple cents apiece,” Martus reports. “This has been a project that I’ve been really proud of.”
Martus takes pride in his team at Mosaic and how it has grown during his tenure. Over the past few years, “We’ve had quite a lot of change,” he states. “The organization doesn’t look like what it did before.”
Procurement has moved from a tactically focused organization to one that drives value to the stakeholders and customers. “When I see the development of the people and what they’re capable of, that makes me really proud,” he says. “They’ve been able to enact these programs so quickly.”
He sees a strong future ahead for Mosaic, but one that will require the company to cope with pricing challenges in its market. “There is a lot of global pressure on phosphates,” he admits.
“We have to compete on the global market for what we’re selling,” Martus says. The company has been affected by tariffs on other products, including steel pipes, which are essential for its processing plants and mines.
“We’ve had to get creative about how we purchase pipe and how we maintain our pipe,” he says. Mosaic has looked at ways to buy less pipe since prices have gone up since the steel tariffs were implemented.
Martus adds that Mosaic also will keep looking at ways to outdo its previous performance while becoming more adaptive and flexible. “The competition never ends and the need to become better goes on every year,” he says. “You have to continue to drive and strive for that.”
One way it will do that, he notes, will be by partnering closely with all of its key stakeholders and suppliers, which include suppliers for all our operations in Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Saskatchewan. “Our supplier base has a real vested interest in the industry,” he says. “They’re very important to us so we work with them quite closely.”
Sidebar: Green Responsibility
The Mosaic Co. not only focuses on how it can help its customers, but also the environment. Since 2012, it has achieved companywide reductions of 13.9 percent in greenhouse gas emissions, 12.1 percent in energy use and 8.9 in fresh water use.
Mosaic also supports and promotes the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework for utilizing fertilizer best management practices to achieve cropping system goals. “Since 2015, Mosaic has helped implement 4R management practices on more than 6 million acres of farm land,” it says.
The company has earned recognitions for these practices, including being named by CR Magazine as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 10 years in a row. In addition, Mosaic earned a ranking on the FTSE34 Good Index and an Environmental, Social and Governance score of 3.7 out of five, placing it in the 76th percentile among chemicals firms.