Hubner Industries

Indiana’s trusted seed production partner in hybrid corn and soybeans
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Elizabeth Towne

Based in West Lebanon, Indiana, Hubner Industries is the product of a strong family farming background and unique history in engineering and building seed production plants. Hubner’s experienced team not only understands how to raise the highest quality product, but also how to design a highly efficient facility and maximize infield seed yields. Located in the heart of the Corn Belt’s richest growing region, Hubner has 5,500 acres of seed corn and 4,500 acres of soybean production.

The company is involved in every facet of seed corn and seed bean production from field operations, testing, conditioning, custom treating/overcoating, packaging, warehousing and distribution. As an ISO 9001:2008 certified hybrid corn and soybean seed producer, Hubner is a vertically-integrated company with expertise and cutting-edge seed production equipment and technology to handle any seed production needs that customers may have.

A family partnership

Hubner formed by way of a partnership between Robert Hubner and his son, Bob Hubner in 1972. “Both have an extensive background in the seed corn industry,” says Greg Smith, general manager of Hubner. “The dream of having their own seed corn company became a reality when Bob’s mother inherited an 80-acre farm in western Indiana. The family decided to return to the area and start Hubner Seed Company.”

In 1975, Bob’s brother, Jim Hubner, joined the team as the production manager. “Robert eventually bowed out of the business shortly thereafter to settle into retirement and Jim and  Bob ran the business together, starting as a small hybrid seed corn company selling their own brand Hubner Seed,” recounts Smith. “To supplement the retail business, Hubner also got into the contract business, producing hybrid seed corn for private-label customers eventually forming a new business entity called Hubner Industries, LLC to handle the contract seed production business.”

In 2007, Hubner Seed Company was sold to a multi-national agricultural biotechnology company. Hubner Seed is now managed by Doug Hubner, Bob’s son, and the company markets corn, soybeans and alfalfa in the northeastern corn market.

“In 1983, the company came in contact with Mike Williams, founder of Fielder’s Choice Direct (FCD), a direct marketing retail seed company doing business over the phone,” continues Smith. “It was at this point that things really started to take off as Hubner began doing all of the production, packaging and distribution for Fielder’s Choice making major capital investments to build a state-of-the-art seed conditioning facility. In 2006, FCD was purchased by the same multi-national agricultural biotechnology company that purchased Hubner Seed in 2007.”

After both of the brands that Hubner Industries was doing production for changed ownership they entered into a multiyear agreement to raise seed for the new holding company which owned both Hubner Seed and Fielder’s Choice Direct. “This left Hubner Industries and Hubner Farms responsible for production, packaging and warehousing,” explains Smith.

Growing vertical

Today, Hubner still maintains exclusive relationships with major seed partners as a vertically integrated contract grower. “We still do all of our own seed planting,  testing and conditioning, processing and overcoating, packaging, warehousing and distribution in Indiana,” notes Smith. “The Hubner seed brand is exclusively sold throughout the original 13 state area that was established years ago. Approximately 80 percent of our business is now supplying a major player in the seed and agricultural biotechnology world and 20 percent of our seed goes to smaller contracts.”

Even with a large distribution area, Smith says Hubner is very customer-service driven. “We’re a boots-in-the-dirt type team, much more so than a sales team,” he says. “As a contract grower, we’re capable of meeting any seed production, quality specification or delivery our customers need.”

Interplanting techniques to refuge-in-the-bag packaging and custom seed overcoating, Hubner is committed to offering the most advanced seed technology capabilities that deliver the best in seed purity, performance and trait integrity.

After several big production years, Hubner is expanding its facilities. “We have a new 60,000-square-foot warehouse facility for storage and distribution, which is set to be completed by Sept. 1, 2015,” notes Smith. “Hubner also has a three-phase dryer expansion project in the works. Phase one is launching this summer. We’re revamping the dryer set up, which will effectively double our earn corn capacity per fill. This is about a three-year project.”

Feast or famine

As in any commodity-based business, Hubner must expand and contract according to demand. “I’ve been in this industry my entire adult life and I’ve seen firsthand how cyclical this business is,” says Smith. “2011 and 2012 were poor production years and of course demand skyrocketed and we could barely find enough to meet it. In 2013, no one wanted to come up short so customers overbooked by 120 percent of needs to try to build carry-over.”

This followed two back-to-back crops of substantial yield. “We hit 130 percent of our target again and then there was a glut of inventory,” says Smith. “That’s just how it goes in this business, it’s very much feast or famine. When you think you can’t produce enough – boom, there’s so much that you end up sitting on inventory.”

A wealth of inventory, coupled with the fact that demand has backed off a bit, has made for some bumps in the road for Hubner. But the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA) is helping navigate industry challenges through research and information. For more than a century, ICIA has been a leader in seed certification, quality testing, genetic testing and research, supporting members such as Hubner.

With more than 40 years under its belt, the company is familiar with the ebb and flow of the seed business. Hubner Industries continues to lead the pack in hybrid corn and soybean seed production and technology, optimizing quality and performance for large and small customers.

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