AgReliant Genetics: Offering Exceptional Customer Value in Seed Products

AgReliant Genetics (AgReliant) is a leading North American genetic research, breeding, production and sales business for seed products. AgReliant has been operating since 2000, although its two European parent companies, KWS and Limagrain, have been in business for much longer. “We rank No. 3 in corn seed market share in North America,” says Craig Newman, president and CEO of AgReliant. “We market seed through five brands in the U. S., including AgriGold, Great Lakes, LG, Producers and Wensman, plus one brand in Canada, which is Pride.”

While there are currently several large seed producers in the market, including Dupont and Monsanto, AgReliant is the only major player focusing exclusively on seeds without chemicals. As a result, the business is able to stand apart from its competitors and smaller businesses through leading research. “The smaller businesses may have strong regional or family-based cultures, but they don’t have the resources that we do for research,” says Newman. “Our parent companies have global programs with which we collaborate. We have new, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that allows us to compete effectively.”

Business Structure

AgReliant’s headquarters is located in Westfield, Ind., and the company also boasts numerous facilities across North America. “We have nine major production plants,” says Newman. “We have three in Illinois, one in Nebraska, one in Michigan, one in Minnesota, two in Ontario and a new one under construction in Iowa. Our research team works out of 13 locations in North America, including Puerto Rico, which includes three separate locations. We also have important access to research and production capacities in South America. We also have six branch headquarters for our commercial brands.”

The company’s extensive geographic footprint requires a dedicated team. Therefore, AgReliant employs a full-time staff of more than 850 people, with additional seasonal workers in the summer. “We’ve got an exceptional team of dedicated employees,” Newman adds.

AgReliant is currently constructing a new $35 million production facility near Ogden, Iowa, which will be operational in August 2013. “Construction is progressing quickly,” Newman elaborates. “We’ve had a lot of support from the state, the county and local people. It’s quite a showcase, and the farmers in the area are excited. We’ll be adding about 4,000 acres for seed production this year, and we are bringing new employment opportunities to this area. We recently opened a research station nearby, just west of Ames, plus another new research station with a new plant breeder in Kansas in January 2013.”

Each move in the business’ expansion is strategic, and these facilities haven’t popped up in the Midwest by accident. “After a detailed analysis of our production logistics and business expansion, a facility in Iowa was best suited to maximize our efficiency and better serve our customers,” explains Newman. “We have major production plants in Illinois and Nebraska, but Iowa was a void that we needed to fill. These facilities are very important for our business. The new research facility in Kansas will allow us to expand our western product research in order to supplement our continued sales growth in that region.”

Past, Present and Future Growth

The secret behind AgReliant’s continued growth is a genuine dedication to people. With employees and customers alike, the business seeks to build lasting relationships. Internally, hundreds of experienced professionals keep the machine humming. Many come from agricultural backgrounds like Newman.

“I grew up on a farm in Indiana,” he explains. “I went to Purdue and then worked for Procter and Gamble. In 1979 I joined Akin Seed Company and helped launch the AgriGold brand. My experience tells me that people are the most important component of a business. At Procter and Gamble, I learned that you need to identify the best people in the business and recruit them. That has been a key part of the company’s success, and what I believe that I have contributed over the years. Here, our company culture aims to appreciate the individual and to go out and find those individuals who are good fits. With a lot of the other large businesses in this industry, you’re not going to have an interview and meet the CEO. Here, that is exactly how we operate.”

The right people have allowed AgReliant to flourish, even in a difficult market. “Supply has been a big issue for the seed industry,” Newman elaborates. “We’ve expanded our market share for several years in a row with high performance on our products. If the supply is short, there is a bigger impact on someone whose market share is increasing than on one whose market share is decreasing. Fortunately for us, we have been able to weather those kinds of storms. We try to keep people motivated and it helps us deal with the challenging situations. It’s not easy to do that every day.”

Over the next few years, Newman says the focus will be on continued growth. The avenue to achieving the team’s goals will remain rooted in technology and relationships. Newman is proud to note that the business is a leader in the marketplace and is striving to remain ahead of the competition in technology and customer satisfaction. AgReliant Genetics will continue to strive for quality, innovative products, superior service and exceptional customer value.

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