Boldness and Humility: A True Leadership Trait
Chris Latham, chief financial officer of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, recently stepped into his new role as president of the Independent Seed Association (IPSA). At its recent annual conference in Tucson, Arizona, IPSA recognized Chris for his unwavering support of independent seed companies and welcomed him to the table.
“IPSA is such a great organization, with great innovators,” says Chris, who previously served as president of the Iowa Seed Association. His older brother John was president of the American Seed Trade Association; both brothers followed their father’s example as a steward in the industry. “My dad and my brother have served in this same capacity. I’m proud to be here and I’m excited about the future of this industry.”
Chris credits his dad for instilling within him a passion for the seed industry.
“I always admired Dad’s desire to learn about things and to apply it to whatever he did,” says Chris, who recalls summer vacations spent road tripping across the United States, taking in the sights on their way to the latest seed industry convention. “I literally grew up in the seed business.”
After graduating from CAL High School in Latimer, Chris majored in Finance at Drake University. He graduated in May 1995 and worked full-time in the banking industry. On Saturdays, he attended classes at Iowa State University in Ames to earn a Master of Business Administration.
Chris, John and Shannon Latham purchased the family’s flagship soybean seed company as the third-generation owners in 2009. That’s when Chris came onboard full-time as CFO of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds.
“While my background was not in agronomy, I felt I was in the right place and time to help grow the business,” Chris says. “John and Shannon have backgrounds in sales and marketing respectively. We each have unique roles, so we can contribute in our own way.”
Chris says his goal as IPSA president is stay connected with customers through communication that is both humble and bold.
“We can stand up to tell our story and advocate for innovations and the free market,” he says. “We want viability for the future, but if we’re not active in helping to tell that story, we’re not doing ourselves justice and we’re not doing our customers justice.”
Chris’s wife, Ann, is a family and child psychologist. She specializes in helping kids with learning challenges. They live in Urbandale, Iowa, and have three children: Will, Courtney and Morgan.
Today the Latham family is sharing with us a family favorite recipe for turkey tetrazzini.
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/ 4 inch thick 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 3/ 4 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/ 2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 pound linguine, broken in half
- 4 cups shredded turkey
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed and drained
- Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Make sauce: In same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and add 2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, turkey, peas, and mushrooms. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.