After Hearing that his obituary had been published, Mark Twain quipped, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The same might be said for regional seed companies. In the land of giant national seed entities, producers still value the services that the regional seed companies provide.
“It is important that we keep our focus on what we do best and stick to our core principles,” says Don Massey, general sales manager for Moews Seed Company. “We know that as a smaller company we can compete, partly because we can be very good stewards of our resources.”
Brian Humphries, vice president of sales and marketing at Wyffels Hybrids, says that how regional seed companies position themselves in the coming years will be critical. “The difference for us is how we treat our customers,” he says. “This is a great opportunity to set ourselves apart, offering them a more personal touch.
“In the end, [producers] care who they work with. And if we do a good job of putting the right products on our customers' farms, they will remain our customers.”
Despite the mergers, co-branding and marketing agreements of today's seed market, the regional brand identity still plays an important role.
“There will be large players, and there will be small players,” says Bruce Howison, vice president, marketing seeds and traits for Syngenta Seeds. “Our challenge is to get our Agrisure traits to customers. We recognize that seed buying comes back to the unique relationship between the producer and the seed dealer.”
“The biggest role for the smaller seed companies is providing the proper genetics for their local growing conditions,” says Tom Strachota of Dairyland Seed. “They don't have products spread across the country, so they can focus on their specific regions. There is a culture with the regional seed companies that works, and works well.”