Business Profile: Seed Consultants

WASHINGTON COURT HOUSE, Ohio — Seed Consultants, Inc. started with zero sales in 1990, and expanded to over $25 million in gross sales in 2008. Based in Washington Court House, Ohio, it is currently the largest independent seed company in Ohio, and third of all seed companies doing business in Ohio.

Seed Consultants, Inc. is ranked among the top five independents nationally and second east of the Mississippi River.

The company offers hybrid seed corn (conventional to quad stacks); soybeans (conventional to Roundup Ready; seed wheat; premium alfalfas (Labrador and America’s alfalfas); small seeds; seed treatments; inoculations; and wholesale herbicides.

With 56 corn locations, 36 soybean locations and 11 wheat locations, owners Dan Fox and Chris Jeffries said Seed Consultants, Inc. has the largest replicated testing program of all companies in the eastern Corn Belt, selecting genetics for the eastern Corn Belt’s unique growing conditions and soil types.

In 2000, the company built a state-of-the-art conditioning facility at Washington Court House, Ohio, with a capacity of 1,000,000 units of soybeans and wheat.

In 2001, the company purchased Warner Seeds of Bradford, Ohio, and entered into a long-term agreement with Warner Seeds for irrigated production.

The corn production arm (Warner Seeds and Dull Homestead) has recently spent over $3.5 million in new construction and renovation of their seed corn plants.

In 2007-2008, Seed Consultants, Inc.’s proprietary corn breeding program continues to show promise with 175 new lines showing improvement (phenotypically and genotypically).

Despite a tough economy, Seed Consultants, Inc. continues to grow market share. Corn sales appear to be even with 2007, while the rest of the industry is experiencing a 9-11 percent decrease in sales; soybean sales are up over 23 percent.

“Seed Consultants, Inc. continues to build genetic and trait relationships with the multi-nationals, allowing the company to continue to be extremely competitive, especially since we are using a regionalized selection process.

“Our eastern testing program allows us to glean the best lines from the genetic suppliers for our specific environments. The nationals can not release regional lines, while Seed Consultants, Inc. thrives on this fact,” said Jeffries.

“Our customers are what our company is about. We care about our clients. This not lip service. Our actions back up this fact. We love this business and are very passionate about the seed industry.

“We have been able to surround ourselves with great customers. Dan and I could sell tomorrow for an unbelievable amount of money, but our commitment to our customers doesn’t allow this to happen. It has never been about the money — we are committed not to sell!” Jeffries explained.

He said that many growers are not aware that the regional company they currently buy from is owned by a multinational and are no longer independently controlled.

“Seed Consultants, Inc.,” he said, “is routinely targeted by the multinationals (through special pricing programs) in hopes of eliminating our influence in many areas. We actually have some customers initially buy from us to negotiate a better deal with their current supplier.

“This is great for us — since our retention rate continues to be very good and we have been able to build a strong relationship with many of these customers.”

Looking to the future, Seed Consultants, Inc. plans to double its size within the next five to seven years by following the principles that have allowed it to grow in the first place.

Jeffries said the industry is changing every year with continued consolidation.

“Corporate MBA’s are making decisions good for their companies and their accountants with little concern for their customers. Corporate appears to be all about their profits. This has become a colder business, which is hard for Seed Consultants, Inc. to adapt to. We may care a little too much in today’s business environment.”

Seed Consultants, Inc. may be reached at P.O. Box 370, Washington Court House, OH 43160; call 800-708-2676 or e-mail seedconsultants@seedconsultants.com.

Hours of operation are normally 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but in-season, hours expand to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. For more information, visit www.seedconsultants.com.

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