Thursday, October 30, 2014

Giant Vision

Passion, dedication and foresight make Doug Hubner the winner of the 2010 Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award.

There’s a reason why Doug Hubner is a rising leader in the seed industry: he says he doesn’t go to work every day—instead, he fulfills his passion for seed. Hubner is the recipient of the 2010 Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award. The award recognizes leadership, innovation and commitment to the industry.

From a young age, growing up in the small agricultural community of West Lebanon, Ind., Hubner learned it’s not the job that gets you up in the morning but a passion for the work you do—and he’s got that in spades.

Hubner comes from a line of seedsmen spanning three generations—his father and grandfather founded Hubner Seed in 1972. His earliest memories are of pulling wagons in from the production fields and riding the tractor during planting season with his father. Growing up, Hubner played a role in every facet of his family’s business, from production and processing to distribution. Being surrounded by seed had a profound effect on the young Hubner: “It’s been a big influence—the opportunity to be part of a family business and to know that I was doing something better, bigger for the entire country. I knew I was helping to feed the world,” he says.

After high school, Hubner studied agronomic business and marketing, graduating from Purdue University in 2005 with a degree in that field. He then worked at the family business in sales and marketing as a district sales manager. “When I was growing up, sales and marketing was the part of the business I didn’t have as much involvement with. Upon graduating, it was an opportunity to get into the customer-facing side of the business,” he says.

In 2007, Hubner became the marketing lead for Hubner Seed. That year, the company joined American Seeds LLC, a division of Monsanto, in order to “continue delivering the most advanced and innovative products in the industry to its customers,” says Hubner.

Education and Communication are Key

Working with customers provides him with the challenge he craves every day, “Every customer, every farm has different needs and challenges, and different problems to solve. That fastpaced challenge draws me to the customer side of the business,” says Hubner.

Now, as general manager of the business at the age of 27, Hubner leads his business by listening intently to his team and his customers, presenting a clear vision to his co-workers and then executing that vision. At the moment, that vision includes becoming his customers’ most profitable relationship through increased communication and education.

“For the past five years, the seed industry has moved at a blistering pace. New biotech products are quickly being launched into the marketplace while our genetic pipeline continues to crank out new products faster every year. We’re figuring out new ways to bring those products to market quickly. This constant change results in a battle our customers must face every day to make sure they are getting the right products on each of their fields in order to maximize their potential returns. We strive to do a better job of communicating and educating our customers on product placement. This requires a continual update of our R&D information so that we have the data our sales force needs to make the options real for the customer, and that the customer understands as, closely, we work with them to ensure correct placement on their farms,” he says.

According to Richard Hines, executive vice president and senior account manager of Indiana Design Consortium Inc., Hubner’s humility, vision and leadership skills set him apart in the industry. “Doug leads by example. He puts the success of others ahead of his own and is prudent in the conduct of his personal and professional affairs. He set a course early in his career that is sure to bring the highest levels of seed technology and potential value to the growers he will serve,” said Hines, who nominated Hubner for the award.

Through crop clinics, field days and grower resentations, Hubner has seen an ongoing and significant increase in the number of growers profiting from his company’s products. “The stakes are getting higher every year and we’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re doing what we do—better,” he says. “We’re helping to maximize the profi t potential of customers’ farms through product placement and the delivering of solutions for those farms.”

Following Big Footsteps

Over the years, Hubner has had plenty of opportunity to study and learn from the seedsmen that make the seed trade the profitable and attractive sector it is today. He says the qualities these giants of the industry bring to the table—their dedication to customers, communities and employees—are also the oundation upon which the industry is built. He hopes to emulate those qualities in his own career. He recommends pushing the envelope and enjoying the seed environment for himself and other future seed executives: “Every day is a new day, we deal with living organisms, Mother Nature and we create long-lasting relationships,” he says.

Over the last five years, Hubner has dedicated himself to the training and development of Hubner employees, providing them with the information and motivation to succeed in helping farmers apply the latest in corn biotechnology and germplasm for their farms. In the next fi ve years, Hubner hopes for more of the same. “I see myself doing what I’m doing now—reaching out to more customers and touching more peoples’ lives,” he says.

The Future Giants of the Seed Industry Award is co-presented by ASTA’s Future Seed Executives and Seed World magazine. Hubner was presented the award at ASTA’s 127th Annual Convention in San Antonio, Texas, in June. The award is presented annually to an individual currently employed within the industry or in the graduation year of a post-secondary program with plans to enter the seed industry. Kari Belanger

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