Raven Industries, Inc., Sioux Falls, S.D., announced details of a strategic plan, which includes an increased level of investment in targeted areas to drive greater earnings growth and long-term value. Over the next several years, the company will advance two strategic platforms for growth—Raven Autonomy and Raven Composites.

“The strength of our market positions and technology offerings has never been greater than it is today,” says Dan Rykhus, president and CEO. “Now is the time to leverage our positions in these expanding markets in order to drive significant growth in company performance over the long-term — and we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities in front of us.”

These two strategic growth platforms are a result of the development and growth in autonomous agriculture technology.

Raven Autonomy is a strategic growth platform designed to propel its applied technology division. This strategic growth platform builds upon Raven’s existing machine control technology, while also innovating smart machine platforms/implements to achieve fully autonomous solutions across the farming enterprise.

Raven Composites is a strategic growth platform designed to expand its engineered films division to innovate solutions that deliver thinner, lighter and stronger composites within the transportation, construction, automotive and packaging markets. These composites are said to be attractive alternatives to existing materials such as wood, metal and thicker plastics, as they will significantly reduce weight while improving appearance, strength, durability and lifecycle.

“To fully realize our growth potential, increased investment is needed across these areas, and we are in a great position to capitalize on these market opportunities,” adds Rykhus. “We have been investing in R&D, production capabilities, strategic acquisitions, leadership development and a new enterprise resource planning software for quite some time, and now we are going to invest further. Together, these provide a solid foundation for executing this bolder strategy. These strategic growth platforms are additive to our existing business model and enhance our core strengths, which include a proven history of innovating technology in precision agriculture and specialty sheeting.”

The company’s plan to invest in Raven Autonomy includes increasing the research and development (R&D) investment in the automation of its existing product portfolio and building out additional technology through a combination of internal development, acquisitions and partnerships. Throughout all of this, Raven will focus on perception, path planning and machine controls for autonomous agriculture solutions.

“Raven has been investing in the necessary enabling components for autonomy in agriculture for 20 years,” says Rykhus. “Along the way, others have had unsuccessful attempts at initiating autonomy in agriculture, however, neither the technology nor the market were ready. The necessary technology to enable autonomy in agriculture is ready, and the inflection point is here. We want to lead in the next revolution of production agriculture, and our legacy platforms, new technologies and strategic partnerships provide distinct advantages over the competition. Now we need to aggressively invest to bring our solutions to market and to capture this tremendous opportunity. We believe we are in the lead position on the path to fully autonomous solutions for agriculture. Now more than ever, our strategic OEM partners need to deliver premier precision agriculture solutions in order to compete and win market share. Investing to expand our advantage is essential to remaining the trusted innovator in precision agriculture.”

The company’s plan to invest in Raven Composites includes increasing the investment in R&D and business development related to the rigid composites market and developing new technologies and capabilities through internal R&D, acquisitions and partnerships. To support Raven Composites, the company plans to establish a cadence of strategic investments every 12 months.

“Our track record of product performance and quality, exceptional service, unique combination of capabilities, vertical integration and ability to remain agile are unmatched,” says Rykhus. “We have a core competency in running efficient manufacturing operations. We have a strong balance sheet and borrowing capacity. We have a history of successfully integrating strategic acquisitions, delivering innovative products and solving customer challenges through strong R&D. This combination has provided distinct advantages and puts us in a unique position to capitalize on the vast opportunity in this expanding adjacent market. We have a good opportunity to find acquisitions and grow quickly and significantly.”