Minnesota Seed Dealer Keeps Business in the Family with Latham® Seeds
Three strikes and you’re out!
This lesson was reinforced when Jerry Paumen (pronounced Paw-men) was a young boy playing baseball in Plato, Minnesota. It’s a lesson that his two sons have learned. It has become a mantra that he applies to business.
“I always wanted to come back to the family farm, but my parents didn’t accept my proposal the first two times I made it,” says Jerry, who attended Dakota County Technical College for Diesel Mechanics and worked as a heavy equipment mechanic for 10 years. Then in 2006 his proposal was accepted. “This was going to be my last attempt to join my parents in business or else I was starting my own.”
Jerry’s parents, Jim and Lanette Dammann, were founders of Gold Country Seed®. Gold Country Seed Inc. was formed in 1989 when 13 independent seed companies came together to form a seed corn brand.
“My mom was the first official employee for Gold Country. She ran the seed office from our house until 1991 when they built a shop with an office. That served as Gold Country’s headquarters until the business outgrew the facility,” says Jerry.
That business growth also attracted suitors. Jerry’s parents and their ownership group in 2006 sold Gold Country to American Seeds Inc. (ASI), Monsanto’s holding company. After the sale, Jerry and his parents continued to operate a Gold Country Seed dealership as Dammann (pronounced Dam-man) Seeds.
The parallels between Jerry’s family’s history in the seed business and the history of Latham Seeds is quite remarkable. Jerry’s grandfather started their family business by conditioning and then selling oats. When Jerry’s father returned to the farm after graduating from college, he began focusing on soybeans. The second generation of Latham Seeds also focused on soybean production and sales.
As stated above, Jerry’s parents in 1989 ventured into corn sales. The addition of the corn brand provided Jerry with an opportunity to return home to the family business. Third-generation seedsman and president of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, John Latham, sold Latham brand soybeans before starting his own hybrid seed corn brand. Latham Seeds’ headquarters remains on the family’s Century Farm just as Dammann Seeds is headquartered on their family’s Century Farm.
Just as Jim and Lanette helped the generation before them grow the seed business, Jerry and his wife, Steph, have helped the family’s seed business continue to evolve and grow. Steph worked in accounts receivable before she joined the family business in 2010.
“Steph is really the glue that keeps our family, our business and our staff together,” says Jerry. “She keeps our operation running smoothly.”
Steph and Jerry’s two sons also are involved with the family’s farming and seed operations. JP is a sophomore in high school. He enjoys FFA, trapshooting, hunting and fishing. Jack, an eighth grader, enjoys playing basketball and baseball. He also enjoys trapshooting and fishing.
“JP is very mechanical. He’s an excellent operator and a natural salesman. Jack enjoys pest and weed identification,” says Jerry.
Adds Steph, “It’s nice to have our kids help. They interact with customers and take ownership with parts of the farm. It’s fun to watch them grow and develop their own interests. Our boys have learned important lessons about customer service and providing value.”
Another benefit to operating a family-owned business is that they can enjoy time together. While they work long hours, they also have the flexibility to adjust their schedules to fit school and extracurricular activities.
JP is a sophomore in high school. He enjoys FFA trapshooting, hunting and fishing. Jack, an eighth grader, enjoys playing basketball and baseball. He enjoys trapshooting and fishing. Jerry also enjoys pheasant hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. Steph also enjoys spending time outdoors. She says she finds any excuse to be outside, whether she’s working, playing with the dogs, gardening, loading the wood stove or working in the woods. She also enjoys scrapbooking.
The Paumens also are involved in their community. Steph volunteers at school and at church. Jerry has served on the parochial school board for six years. He has helped with multiple fundraisers, including the Emanuel Grillers’ rib fest that serves 1,200 people. He also coached baseball. Now he’s coaching trap and serving on the high school’s trap board.
Active in the seed industry, the Paumens belong to the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. They also are active in numerous local conservation groups.
Committed to Community and Family
The Paumens choose to work with others who share their values like Mike and Diana Madsen, who also have their own seed dealership. In 2019, Mike brought Jerry to a Latham® seed plot in a field that was in the same section as the Paumen’s field.
“I jumped in the Gator and drove with Mike to the field day,” recalls Jerry. “As I walked through the corn plot, I was reminded how much I enjoyed working with a family-owned seed company. The Latham story brought back so many good memories from my childhood and the early days of working with my parents.
Jerry planted Latham brand hybrids in 2020.
“I put corn to the test in my fields first because our customers rely on our data,” says Jerry. “Now I’m planning a soybean test plot for 2021 because Latham Seeds has all the soybean options, including EnlistTM. I look forward to giving our customers the opportunity to choose which technologies work best in their operations.”
Latham Seeds is proud to welcome the Paumen family to our dealer network. Today we are celebrating by sharing one of their family’s favorite recipes.
- Hashbrown patties
- 1 pound of hamburger
- 1 onion
- 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Frozen peas
- American cheese slices
- French fried onions
- Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Line the bottom of the pan with hashbrowns.
- Brown the hamburger and onions; drain.
- Mix 1 can cream of mushroom soup with half can of milk; then add the hamburger and onions.
- Spoon the soup-hamburger mixture on top of the hashbrowns.
- Top with frozen peas.
- Cover with American cheese slices.
- Cover with foil. COOK’S TIP: I spray the foil with no-stick spray to prevent the cheese from sticking to it.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
- Take off the foil, cover with french fried onions and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes on the counter before serving.