Southern Seed and Feed LLC: A Dedicated Local Agricultural Supplier

Roger Koehn, president of Southern Seed and Feed LLC (SSF), founded the company as a processer of agricultural seed in 1983. Koehn’s extensive background informed him well; SSF was launched with a portable seed cleaner, enabling Koehn to prepare the seed for planting another crop at the local farmer’s place.

“I have a farming background,” explains Koehn. “I was raised in the agricultural business. I worked for a seed producer, which helped me get started in this industry. In September 1983 I set out on my own. We are celebrating 30 years in business in 2013.”

As SSF grew, Koehn began looking for ways to diversify. “I saw a lot of holes in the market for good seed and grain, and eventually livestock feed,” Koehn explains. Therefore, Koehn and his team embraced the opportunity, marketing clean, bagged corn toward local feed retailers. The market was receptive and SSF increased its feed production capabilities to include additional options.

The company now offers a wide range of specialty feed products to clients within a 200-mile radius of its headquarters in Macon, Miss. Not forgetting Koehn’s roots, SSF also works with local farmers as much as possible to source materials for production.

Though Koehn started the business alone, SSF now employs more than 20 people. Although the numbers fluctuate seasonally with the market, Koehn ensures his staff employs the same customer service focus year-round. “We’re a small company,” Koehn explains. “We are a very service-orientated company. We stay flexible with production so we can meet the needs of our customers. Our customers know that they can always get in contact with the people in charge for any reason.”

Reliable Products and Services

Offering a full line of textured and pellet feeds, SSF serves clients who raise cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, chickens and assorted wildlife. The company also offers pet food for small animals, as well as bird seed for wild bird feeding, quail feed, wild turkey feed, deer feed and other wildlife feeds.

Koehn is proud to note that SSF is widely recognized for its Triple Clean Corn. “Since we are service-oriented, we readily do custom-blended products for our customers,” he details. “Our one weakness is that we do not have a pellet mill, but we have our pellet feed custom-made to our specifications. We do our best to offer economical solutions to our customers. Most of our grains are local grown. We want a high-quality oat; therefore, we use Canadian oats.”

A successful market has led Koehn to expand his facilities. “Right now we’ve outgrown our warehouse space,” he explains. “We’re already building to accommodate that. We need more storage for our growing wildlife line. The next phase is updating our bulk receiving facilities and then we want to build a pellet mill. Our business continues to grow and things look promising.”

Due to expansion, the company is establishing additional SSF-specific branded products. “The pet market is also expanding,” Koehn details. “We have our own line of pet food under our name that has been very popular. We’re also expanding our seed business which is enhanced by our unique packaging. We have great supply connections with local growers. With our local grown seed, it is allowing us to expand our different lines of wildlife seed blends. We are experiencing seed blending becoming a larger part of our business.”

Market Changes

According to Koehn, the agricultural industry is highly prone to changes, especially regarding commodity pricing and availability. However, Koehn and his team have managed to stay flexible throughout recent shifts, always adjusting to meet the demands of customers to ensure sustained growth.

“The cattle industry is becoming smaller,” Koehn notes. “We have had to come up with new products and new ways of presenting products, but our overall sales have grown. High prices, however, have been a challenge. We’ve also made a bigger push on wildlife products. The southern area has shown a lot of wildlife interest. Cattle, hogs and livestock are leaving, so we continue to find other markets to pick up that slack.”

The SSF team is paying close attention to market trends with an ever-adapting business. “In wildlife, we’ve starting making flavored rice bran in addition to the plain rice bran we had been selling to match those demands,” Koehn details. “We started carrying rice bran about four years ago. This year we started packaging flavored rice bran ourselves. The wildlife industry is growing more than the livestock industry, but we’re looking at different marketing strategies for both. We are a distributor for many different products, which we can’t produce. We are continually looking for products that we can add to our existing inventory. We are also working toward a more complete line of SSF-branded products.”

With the wind at his back, Koehn has no intention of slowing down. “If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” he says. “We have to stay aggressive in our industry. We’re expanding to keep up with our current customer’s needs. Our goal is to get stronger in the area we already serve. We are completely open to new opportunities. You have to keep customers satisfied, if you want to keep them. You have to look at their needs, change and add products as necessary.”

With a strong customer base and willingness to diversify, SSF will continue to grow as a business. Koehn and his team put customers first, knowing that his customer base has other options; he is confident in SSF’s ability to retain relationships. “We want to fully saturate our existing reach,” he explains. “We’re not looking to expand geographically outwards.” By choosing to remain at a manageable size, Koehn and his team offer quality and value unmatched by competing businesses. Southern Seed and Feed LLC will continue to grow alongside its customer base, offering leading service in the agricultural supply business.

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