Joy’s Remarkable Journey at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds

It was a cryptic classified ad in her small-town newspaper that would connect Joy Bonin to a job — and a family — for the next 47 years.

A new mom at the time, Joy was growing restless after staying home with her daughter, who had recently turned two years old. Hearing this, Joy’s mother pointed out an ad in the Belmond Independent. It was for a bookkeeping position, but it didn’t list a company name.

“It just said it was for a business east of town,” Joy recalls. “We lived east of town, so in my mind I thought it had to be some place out in the country.”

With nothing else to go on, Joy mailed her resume to a post office box in Belmond, where she had grown up and still lives today. A few days later, she got a call from Bill Latham, who asked her to come in for an interview. Because Joy’s family had farmed in the area all her life, she was familiar with the Latham name. Her dad had even done business with the Lathams’ soybean company.

“After my interview, Bill said they’d talk it over and get back to me,” Joy says. “I wasn’t home half an hour before he called and asked me how soon I could start.”

Latham Hi Tech Seeds team 1980s

It was the beginning of a lifelong career for Joy, who is retiring in April of 2024. She admits life without Latham Seeds will be “somewhat of an adjustment.” Afterall, Joy has worked with all three generations of the company’s owners — and has transitioned along with the family through every step of change and growth over the years.

Current CFO Chris Latham, who, as a young boy would come into the office after school to tinker with the company’s new computers, now credits Joy for much of Latham Seeds’ success.

“She’s been a big part of the reason why we have grown from a soybean-only seed company that sold to local customers to a multi-crop seed business with dealers and customers in seven states,” he says. “Joy has also been a loyal friend and confidant to so many employees, growers, dealers and vendors.”

Joy worked her way from bookkeeper — manually typing invoices and working from “the big, old general ledger book” — to much larger responsibilities, including production. Besides lining up contract growers and working with them, Joy took on human resources duties like managing payroll and employee benefits.

But it was always working with farmers that Joy loved the most. She was extremely interested in the science behind the seeds, so she enjoyed working with the product team as they selected soybean varieties. Whenever she could, Joy would walk the field with Bill Latham.

“He was the best teacher you could ever ask for,” she says. “He was an agronomy major, and I loved to go out in the summer to take research notes with him on all the new varieties. I learned so much from him.”

When she had her second child, Joy introduced the concept of job sharing to her bosses (Latham brothers Bill, Tom and Don) so she could maintain some work-life balance. She came into the office three days a week for a couple of years before going back full-time. Today she works for Bill’s sons, John and Chris, and John’s wife, Shannon. They are third-generation owners of Latham Seeds.

“I’ve always been treated like a part of the family,” says Joy, who worked with company founder Willard Latham when she was first hired. Willard was “mostly retired” but still had a presence at the main office in Alexander. “You don’t stay in a job for this long if you don’t feel valued. And I can say I have felt valued over the years.”

Having grown up on a farm herself — Joy learned to drive a tractor when she was 11 years old — she says she’ll never forget the relationships she’s built with farmers and growers at Latham. Besides talking business whenever they came to the office, Joy says she loved to chat about farming in general.

“It could be anything – fertilizer, grain prices and all that,” she says. “But it was always something about their family, too. We got to know each other, and I’m going to miss those conversations very much.”

Joy and her husband, Dave, raise corn and soybeans on the farm where they’ve lived for 48 years. They also have a small cow herd managed by their son, Dave. The farm is managed by both David and Dave.
Joy and husband resized

Joy and her husband Dave.

In retirement, Joy plans to spend more time with her grandchildren (she has seven) and two great-grandsons. She also wants to get more involved with church activities and volunteer in the community.

Of course, someone with so much experience and company knowledge can hardly make a clean break from it. Joy plans to be available part-time for a couple more months to assist Latham with payroll, grower relations, hedging and other transition items.

Joy on Phone resized

“Joy has been a shining example of what kind of great people are in the seed industry,” Chris Latham says. “She will truly be very missed.”

“Do what you love to do, and surround yourself with who and what makes you smile.” — Joy Bonin

Enjoy a favorite recipe from Joy!

Beef & Rice Casserole


• ⅓ cup butter, melted
• 1 cup rice (not minute rice)
• 1 can Beef consomme soup
• 1 can French onion soup
• As much cooked cubed beef as you like (I either cut up round steak or pieces off a rump roast in about 1 inch cube sized pieces)


Combine all ingredients in glass 9” x 13” pan and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. It is best to stir once or twice during baking so that all rice gets absorbed by the liquid.