Speed, Challenges and Seed
With a love for racing, Rob Thurston was required to quickly learn the ins and outs of the seed industry. Now as president of Thurston, Inc., he leads the way.
Seed World: What’s your favorite movie, and why?
Rob Thurston: Days of Thunder. Racing has been in my blood since a very young age and the story of Cole Trickle, a driver who knows very little about the car itself but has great success, is very similar to my own challenges as a race car driver. Although this movie is over 27 years old, it still finds its way on the TV a night before a big race.
SW: How did you originally become interested in corn brokering?
RT: My father, Bob Thurston, started the business in 1980, so I grew up in the business but never paid much attention to or realized the opportunities it presented. I was looking for a career change out of retail furniture sales and my father was looking to fill the office manager role left by Sue Wagemaker, his first employee hired in 1980. With only a sales and marketing degree and no agricultural background, the learning curve proved to be steep..
SW: What is the greatest strength that Thurston Inc offers clients?
RT: My employees are the greatest assets we can offer to our clients. Although we are a small team with four employees, each one of us carries a unique set of skills and knowledge.
SW: What do you see as the greatest threat to the future of agriculture?
RT: Mergers and acquisitions have the potential to become the greatest threat to agriculture. Large companies getting larger while providing less options to the farmer has the potential to drive the independent farmers and retailers out of business.
SW: What do you see as the biggest opportunity?
RT: On the flip side, with the results of major acquisitions and mergers yet to be determined, independent seed companies have a tremendous opportunity to grow in the near future. If a company can capitalize on the chaos and unknown surrounding pending mergers, they stand to pick up substantial market growth simply due to trust and stability.
SW: What’s your favorite hobby? Does it help your work?
RT: I have driven race cars (Legends Cars, Super Late Model) since 1998 throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. With my wife and two girls, Mara (6) and Ellie (3), we make it a family event at the race track. Racing has helped me tremendously with perseverance and overcoming challenges, which I can directly relate to seed brokerage.