The Winner Will Always Be the Grower
Local Seed Co. opens in Memphis, Tennessee with a direct-to-grower platform under CEO Charles Michell.
Good quality seed, crafted with care. That’s the motto for the new independent seed company Local Seed Co., based in Memphis, Tennessee.
Local Seed Co. is a company dedicated to the grower. It provides service direct from their own independent seed to the growers in order to produce the best crops across the United States, and it has been the dream of Charles Michell for years.
“I wanted to jump back in the seed business and the local community after my time at Monsanto and the purchase of Delta Pine Land,” Michell, CEO of Local Seed Co., says. “After I left Monsanto, I began working with Sanders Seed, a regional retailer, prior to it being purchased by Pinnacle Agriculture. My passion has always been in seed business, and I believe that focusing on seed allows us to provide products specifically tailored to the growers farms.”
Michell saw room for growth in the everchanging seed retail model — instead of selling a mass-produced product, why not make a product specifically geared for a local farmer?
“I had a year after I left Pinnacle to think about how to build a team of people who work well to get the seed out to farmers,” Michell says. “After that year expired I started by managing Dulaney Seed and after I was hired, I knew we needed to expand our footprint and gain access to production land and a production facility to produce our own seed. That way, Local Seed Co could craft seed specifically for farmer’s fields as opposed to some of the industry who don’t know what they are selling, but instead only what they are told to sale.”
Michell thought the perfect place to begin his dream was in Memphis, Tenn.
“When you go 25 miles outside of Memphis in any direction, you hit rural areas,” says Michell. “When I was growing up, Memphis was the mecha in cotton. It’s good for recruiting purposes, but it’s close enough to the rural areas so we can be in the field with the farmers We will maintain our locations in Clarksdale, MS and Jersey Shore, PA. In Pennsylvania, the home of former TA Seeds, we go to market using our farmer dealer network. The farmer dealer network has been a great model and we will continue to work with our partners along with pushing our direct to grower model outside the reach of those current farmer dealer partners.”
Michell wants the company to spend more time with the grower than in the office. Of course, for a direct-to-grower seed company, time in the field is valuable in order to learn the specifics of growing quality seeds for an area.
Local Seed Co. seeks to provide a portfolio of row crops, cover crops for sustainability, and of course, in the company portfolio Local Seed Co. owns both Buck Gardner Duck Calls and Rolling Thunder Game Calls; so when hunting season begins, there’s something a little fun for the farmer after a week of work at the farm.
As for 2018, Local Seed Co will have an ample supply of seed and Michell is enthusiastic. “We want to make sure that the companies we acquire are producing the best seeds for their region, and we’re working on having the best R&D and product development program in the industry. This next year, we really want to maximize opportunities for the growers and expand our lineup, so we’re ready for the big bang in 2019.”
“As a direct-to-grower company, we’ll probably upset a lot of people in the industry,” says Michell. “Most retailers aren’t going to like it. Growers, however, will be happy once they learn about our system and approach because it gives them choice. Suppliers will welcome it because the grower’s choice matters. It’ll bring competition to us and to competitors, but the winner will always be the grower because of the value we bring to his operation.”