Timothy L. Johnson
President, Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc./SGI Field Crops Division
Tim L. Johnson serves as the president of SGI Field Crops Division/Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc. Before becoming president at IFSI, he served as president for Seed Genetics Inc., which was acquired by Illinois Foundation Seeds in 2003. From 1976 to 1993, he was employed at AgriPro. He held various positions there from hourly employee to business manager for corn.
Johnson participates in several seed organizations:
• International Seed Federation—currently president and past chairman of the Breeders Committee.
• American Seed Trade Association—currently participates on the executive board and various committees.
• American Seed Research Foundation—board of directors.
• Indiana Crop Improvement Association—past president of the board. He received the Crops and Soils Award in 2010.
• Indiana Seed Trade Association—past chairman of the Corn Committee. He received the Lifetime Membership Award in 2008.
Johnson is married to his wife, Betty, and has two children, Kate, age 23, and Blake, age 20. He enjoys family, working and having FUN.
President and CEO, Keithly-Williams Seeds
Kelly Keithly graduated from the University of Arizona in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. He worked as a sales representative for Ferry Morse Seed Company before joining Imperial Valley Milling Company in the Imperial Valley of California in 1975, also in vegetable seed sales. In 1981, he and his employer at Imperial Valley Milling Company, Walt Williams, founded Keithly-Williams Seeds, a vegetable seed only company, with Keithly serving as president and CEO. Starting out with two employees, Keithly-Williams now has 142 employees serving 18 western states that cover all the major growing areas in those states and approximately 80 percent of Mexico. Keithly-Williams Seeds offers grower/farmers consultant-type services based on strong product knowledge and service, on-site trials, and professional and experienced recommendations.
Keithly-Williams Seeds has been able to introduce new varieties through trialing in product development to determine suitability for markets in the vegetable production areas they serve. Keithly-Williams Seeds has enjoyed being part of the movement of grower/customers changing from the use of open pollinated varieties to hybrids, open field to protected culture, direct seeding to transplanting, and thus having large influence in the introduction of new varieties that have resulted in increased production for the farmer/growers and higher quality for the consumer.
Outside of Keithly-Williams Seeds, Keithly has served agriculture and the seed industry in many capacities. He is past president of the California Seed Association, has been a member of the American Seed Trade Association since 1978 and has served in a number of leadership roles and is past chairman of the board. He has also served on the California State Seed Advisory Board for 12 years and on the Alumni Council for the University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and is currently a member of the Ag 100 Council for the university.
Andrew W. LaVigne
President and CEO, American Seed Trade Association
Andrew W. LaVigne joined the American Seed Trade Association in February 2006 as the president and chief executive officer. With a 17-year career in government relations, industry representation, public affairs advocacy and management, LaVigne is an expert in the areas of agriculture, food policy and international trade. During his time with ASTA, he has led the expansion of the association’s domestic grassroots program and the reorganization of the international cooperator program. He also pushed to coordinate regional and international phytosanitary standards to facilitate the movement of seed globally. Prior to joining ASTA, the Florida native was executive vice president/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, representing citrus growers on issues affecting their businesses. Prior to that, LaVigne spent four years as president/executive director for Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association. He also worked in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving as a Legislative Director and as an Agriculture Committee staffer. In both positions, he handled agricultural, environmental, immigration and trade issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for the National Friends of the Arboretum and is a member of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade.
Americas Product Management Lead, Monsanto Vegetable Seed Division
Norm Sissons is responsible for leading a vegetable seed product management team focused on North and South America. In this capacity he leads crop strategy development and implementation across more than 10 vegetable crop species. A significant focus includes developing and launching new innovative vegetable products aligned with the future needs of growers and consumers, and effectively managing the multiple product lines of a highly segmented business.
Sissons has spent his career in the agriculture seed and crop protection industry, and joined Monsanto Canada in 1999. With Monsanto he has held several product development, product management and marketing roles in Canada and the United States, with the last four years in vegetable seed.
Sissons holds a Master of Science in plant science and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Manitoba. He resides in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with his wife, Michelle, and three daughters.
John F. Soper
Vice President, Crop Genetics Research and Development, DuPont Pioneer
John F. Soper is vice president of crop genetics research and development, with responsibility for advancing worldwide crop genetics research strategies to drive increased productivity and create new value for seed and agricultural value chain customers through advanced plant genetics.
Soper began his career at DuPont subsidiary, DuPont Pioneer, in 1987 as a soybean breeder in Minnesota and in 1994 was named regional soybean research director for the northern United States and Canada. In 1999, Soper was named director of sunflower research with additional responsibility for the oversight of Pioneer’s sorghum, rice, millet and alfalfa research. Soper led Pioneer’s soybean research efforts as its director from 2001 through 2010 when he was named vice president of crop genetics research and development.
He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park. Soper earned his doctorate in agronomy and plant breeding from North Dakota State University.
Head, Coastal Commercial Unit for Syngenta
Scott Tefteller serves as head, coastal commercial unit for Syngenta, based in Roseville, Calif.
Growing up in a rural community in Arkansas, Tefteller learned the value of farming and supporting the rural community. Tefteller began his career early in agriculture working on the farm. He worked as a farmhand for his family and neighbors as well as adjacent businesses. Tefteller went to Arkansas State University, where he obtained his degree in agronomy. He then went on to the University of Arkansas where he earned a Master of Science in agriculture economics.
He began his career as a college intern for Uniroyal, followed by three summer internships with BASF. Prior to taking on his current role in June 2011, he was head of sales for Rogers Brand Vegetables. He also spent time as a district manager for NK Seeds in the Southern United States. In addition to these positions, he has held positions with the Syngenta Crop Protection business as a global product manager, based in Basel, Switzerland, AgriEdge specialist, district manager, and sales representative. Tefteller has spent the last 24 years working for Syngenta and its legacy companies.
Head of GreenLeaf, a Syngenta Business
Ron Wulfkuhle is head of GreenLeaf, a Syngenta business, which out-licenses corn and soybean genetics and traits to independent seed companies. He has headed GreenLeaf since its creation in 2004 and prior to that held a variety of marketing and management positions within Syngenta legacy companies, dating back to 1984. He has served on the boards of a number of industry organizations. Wulfkuhle has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Kansas State University.
To view the Giant Views of the Industry video interviews, visit seedworld.com. With dozens of new interviews of industry professionals posted each year, the Giant Views of the Industry video series covers topics ranging from breeding and marketing to regulatory affairs.
December Issue 2012