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Agrimarketing : September 2012
AM: Please provide an overview of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. JL: Latham Seeds was founded in 1947 in Alexander, IA, by my grandparents. My grandfather, Willard Latham, was a farmer and innovator. He helped neighboring farmers protect their oat crops against disease by retrofitting a piece of equipment that cleaned and helped preserve crops. My grandmother, Evelyn, ran the "office" from the kitchen. She often made dinner for a room full of employees and customers, all while mothering five boys under the age of seven. Latham began producing oat seed in 1949, launching the retail side of the business. In 1951, a new seed plant was built from the existing farm granary. In the '50s and '60s, Willard transitioned into soybean production. In the '60s and '70s, three of his sons (my dad, Bill, and my uncles Don and Tom) joined the business and added a sales component to the company. In early 2000, we started producing and marketing Latham brand seed corn. Sixty-five years later, our family's third generation assumed ownership. Myself, my wife Shannon, and brother, Chris, continue to build on the philosophies my grandfather set forth, with a commitment to personal service, tailored solutions and the same spirit of families helping families. AM: Where do you see Latham Seeds in the future? JL: We've watched a recent industry trend continue with large seed company acquisitions creating larger companies still. We address growth opportunity and goals from a different perspective than larger companies. Rather than growing our company by providing products that perform adequately across multiple states, we're focused on providing products that excel in our customers' specific local soil types, with the realization different states and regions have different needs. We also work to continue to stay ahead of the curve regarding technology development, offering products that can battle the ever- evolving challenges in the field. For instance, as corn-on-corn acres grow in popularity, they bring with them their own set of challenges such as corn rootworm pressure. Our diverse lineup allowed us to create Latham Gladiator Hybrids --- a group of products designed to excel in corn-on-corn acres. We're also maximizing yield on soybean acres with Latham Ironclad Soybeans, a lineup which includes the industry's most advanced technologies, including Roundup Ready 2 Technology. AM: How will the drought affect Latham Seeds, and how are you working to alleviate its impact? JL: We've spent extensive time in the field this season, as well as online providing up-to-the-minute drought updates, working to help customers preserve as much of their crop as possible. For example, August 6, we dedicated a blog post to helping customers considering options for drought-damaged corn. We provided them with important tips to keep in mind from testing drought-damaged corn planned for green-chop prior to harvest to noting the most important portion of the stalk for harvesting to reduce nitrate toxicity potential. AM: How is the Latham Seeds sales organization and channel to the marketplace organized? JL: Latham was founded on a philosophy pairing global technologies with hometown service, and we continue to build on that today. We believe the best seed for our customers' soils in Nebraska differs from that in Minnesota, and our independence allows us to continue to provide products built to excel in local soils. Our seed selection team researches products with their customers' specific soil types in mind, thereby increasing customer returns and building stronger partnerships. AM: What role does marketing communications play at Latham Seeds? JL: Every company works to help its salespersons be in more places at once. We know farmers garner information from industry publications, local radio and dealers, among other outlets, and we work to balance our marketing efforts across those mediums. We also keep customers up-to-date with information via social media, with daily updates on our blog, www.thefieldposition.com, Twitter (@LathamSeeds), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/LathamSeeds) accounts. Each week, field representatives provide crop updates on our blog, often via video, providing helpful tips on what to watch for in local fields to help maximize yield. We also make an effort to continuously strengthen grower relations. Our owners conduct ride-a-longs with customers each fall. Because, just like at the beginning of our story with my grandfather, at the end of each day at Latham, doing a better job for each of them is what's most important. AM Name: John Latham Title: President, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Education: B.S. degree in Ag Business from Iowa State University Career: John Latham founded Latham Hi-Tech Hybrids in April 2004 and served as president until March 2009, when the family company combined with Latham Seed Company, creating Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. : Latham Hi-Tech Seeds A TRUE FAMILY BUSINESS 66 Agri Marketing September 2012
AgCareers USA 2012