Happy Father’s Day

What did you learn from your Dad?

Maybe it was how to fish, swim, catch a ball or fix a car. Maybe it was how to appreciate the power of a good breakfast, a good attitude or really good duct tape. All practical lessons, for sure.

Because that’s what Dads do. They want us to have basic knowledge and useful skills, so we know how take care of ourselves . . . and someday, our own families.

Willard Latham was the father of five sons. He started a seed business that has been nurtured and grown successfully through three Latham generations. But while Willard was an active father, all of his boys would agree that the biggest lessons he taught them centered on character: Work hard. Keep your word. Finish what you start. Stay smart. And respect your family (especially your mother).

Willard and Latham boys

Willard and his five sons

Don, Tom, Bill and Willard Latham 19080s

Don, Tom, Bill and Willard Latham in the 1980s

Latham Family Owned for 65 years and counting

Three generations of Lathams – John, Ian and Bill

A natural problem-solver, Willard was always thinking ahead. He earned a degree in Dairy Husbandry from Iowa State University and, upon graduation, joined his own father at the family’s dairy operation in Alexander. But when disease began spreading to oat crops in North Central Iowa, Willard’s innovative mind immediately went to work on a solution. He retrofitted a piece of equipment that helped clean the oat crops and keep them healthy.

Nearby farmers heard about Willard’s process and quickly realized its value. That was in 1947, and Latham Seeds was born.

Of course, Willard knew a single invention by a young farmer wouldn’t be enough to carry a company forever. It was his work ethic – and the strong relationships he built through mutual trust – that did. It was also his emphasis on family, because Willard understood that nothing was more important than staying close to the people who love you most.

It’s telling that all five of Willard’s sons have recalled their dad’s lessons on integrity, on doing the right thing, on remembering that “your word is your bond.” They grew up watching their father run a business in a way they’d never forget – through casual conversations with his brother and his customers around the kitchen table, by looking out for his neighbors and by always (that’s always) playing by the rules.

The legacy of Latham Seeds began with Willard and still thrives today. His sons passed it on to their own children, and they, in turn have carried it on. It’s what keeps us focused on family. It’s what keeps us committed to helping multi-generational farmers grow their own, stronger legacies for the future. It’s what keeps us honest, forward-thinking and smart. Like Dad.

We know he’d be proud. Happy Father’s Day!