From Export Assistant to Business Owner
Posted on January 6, 2021
We caught up with Franco Weisser, who previously participated in the NDTO Export Assistant Program, working at Titan Machinery, and was hired full-time after graduation. This spring, Franco decided to move back to Chile and start his own business selling agricultural machinery and spare parts in South America.
He has an obvious enthusiasm for ag machinery, and these passions stem from his father. He remembers that his dad could fix anything while working on a variety of farms in Chile, so, Franco grew up around big farms and their equipment, which inspired his future. Taking that love further, he graduated from the University of Concepción with a soil sciences master's degree. His first introduction to Fargo, ND, was in 2012. While studying for his master's, he participated in a four-month collaborative program with North Dakota State University (NDSU) to further his studies. Franco returned to Fargo in 2014 to pursue an additional master's in International Agribusiness at NDSU and became an Export Assistant with the North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO). He completed the assistantship with Titan, working on their international sales team, and then was hired full time after graduation.
"I loved Fargo, and I loved working for Titan. They trusted me, and I appreciated so many of the experiences I was afforded," Franco says as he reflects on his program. He did not particularly favor learning through textbooks, and that is why his assistantship with Titan was so valuable. He says that working with Titan made him feel very connected.
"I never felt like I was a student. I always talked with people at other companies in other countries, which made me feel connected to the business. You will learn a lot of "theory" in school, but if you have the opportunity to connect with people and be in the market at the same time, it is a priceless experience!"
Because of the program, he learned so much more about the agricultural machinery industry with hands-on experience with fixing equipment, dealing with customers directly, and working with real people, practicing his industry and language skills on the job.
"Fargo is a paradise for anyone interested in ag machinery," he says, and he wanted to learn as much as he could about ag machinery. Titan provided opportunities for Franco to follow his passion. When he told his supervisor that he wanted more experience in fixing equipment (as this would be essential for his dream to start his own business in Chile), they set him up with their Moorhead dealership for some training with a mechanic.
Franco credits his experience as an export assistant, paired with working for Titan for several years, has opened too many doors for him. Although it has been a tough year for so many, Franco set out on his own in early 2020. After recognizing a niche market for a one-of-kind customer service approach and responsiveness to clients, he is building an ag machinery and parts business in South America. This past year, he has proven that his company, Weisser Equipment & Machinery, will be successful. As the pandemic conditions improve, Franco is looking forward to getting out into the industry and working with more people to ensure they have quality parts, products, and a smooth overall experience.
Happy to be back in Chile and working on his dream job, he couldn't let me go without turning his phone around to show a panorama of his beautiful view of the Andes Mountains from home. He missed the mountains while in Fargo and now can orient himself properly with their presence. Franco always wanted to come back to Chile, and now with such a great foundation, there are so many new opportunities ahead.
We wish him well, thank him again for his participation in the NDTO Export Assistant Program, and look forward to working with him in the future.