From Planning to Planter

John Latham, President of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

With the increase of new technologies in the field, from GPS to RIB, along with factors beyond individual control – from vast changes in weather patterns to fluctuating markets – it has never been more important for seed businesses to stay up to date on changing trends within the industry.

There are many key elements to seed retailers’ “crystal ball” forecasting to help ensure the seed that moves from plan to planter will meet demand. Those qualities I find key to seed companies’ success include:

  1. Listening. At Latham, our most valuable relationships are with our customers.  We look to partner with individuals, who can tell us what they’re seeing in their field, and what they’re looking for from a seed company. Whether we’re having a conversation in the field, surveying our customers via iPad, or answering field questions on our blog, we’re listening to the wants and needs of our customers in the field.  Then we adapt what we can to provide a solution that can answer needs before they’ve risen.
  2. Planning. It’s critical for companies to utilize available resources in order to lay out a detailed plan for the coming years, whether that plan covers one year or three, it must address important and upcoming needs outlined with customers.
  3. Embracing Technology. A company must embrace technologies their customers use or that add value for their customers. One of our favorite uses of technology at Latham is how we’ve been able to add video to our weekly crop reports provided on The Field Position.  Now we don’t just write about how to manage SDS; we go out in the field, show people what it looks like, where it’s most prevalent, and provide tips for avoiding outbreaks.
  4. Adding humility and adapting. Companies have to accept that they can’t – and won’t – know it all, and that some elements are truly unpredictable. Adding humility to the mix allows more flexibility to adapt. For 65 years, we’ve focused on serving customers with the best possible soybean seed.  But as the demand for corn grew in our service area, we added hybrid products to our lineup, and have been able to grow every year since. While change is a constant in any industry, we believe one thing will always remain true: those companies that listen to growers and work to answer their needs by offering the best possible product and service will create satisfied customers.