If Dow and DuPont succeed with their proposal to merge and spinoff three companies, one focused on agribusiness, the new companies will open a fresh chapter in the corporate histories of two titans of American industry.
With mergers and acquisitions, the types of increased efficiencies and streamlined processes that can be attractive to shareholders often lead to trimming staff. The companies have already announced they will move the agribusiness headquarters to Delaware, despite the current DuPont Pioneer presence in Iowa.
DuPont announced soon after the merger plans became public it would cut about 1,700 employees. Dow may eliminate 2,500 jobs and close some plants.
It has been long enough since DuPont acquired Pioneer, a long-standing Iowa bedrock, that many of the wounds that deal inflicted have healed. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been forgotten. Pioneer traces its roots to Hi-Bred Corn Company, founded in Iowa in 1926 and renamed Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1935. Though DuPont completed its purchase of Pioneer in 1999, many people around here still refer to the seed company as Pioneer rather than its official name, DuPont Pioneer.
Guru Rao, now vice president for research at Iowa State University, joined Pioneer during the early days of its biotechnology group in 1988.
Rao’s story is his own. But with three major deals pending – in addition to Dow and DuPont, Bayer plans to buy Monsanto and the Chinese National Chemical Company, ChemChina, wants to acquire Syngenta – employees at many seed and agri-chemical companies may be wondering about their job security and/or what working through a merger or acquisition might look like. No two tales will be the same, but Rao agreed to share what he experienced.