Seed World

After 20 Years in Business, I’ve Learned What Separates us From the Seed Testing Pack

How fast two decades go by. Twenty years ago, I founded our company Seed Check Technologies with my business partner Beverly Mitchell.

This year will be one of celebration for us, as we’ve come a long way since 2002, both within the business and looking at the world at large. That year, Jean Chrétien was prime minister. George W. Bush was president of the United States. A global pandemic was the furthest thing from everyone’s mind.

How different the world looks since then, but what really doesn’t look that different is the staff that make up Seed Check.

Prior to starting Seed Check, I worked at two other seed labs in the area, and they weren’t the right fit for me. In starting this business, we wanted a place where people could determine their own hours and didn’t feel like they were under the thumb of their employer. We wanted this seed lab to be a family, and that’s what it has become. Our most junior staff member has been here for eight years.

Starting any new business is complicated, and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. The market is competitive. I was scared.

But after a lot of hard work, we found our niche and ended up becoming known as specialists in native grasses and forages and other seeds that are difficult to work with and typically sat on the backburner at other labs, because nobody really wanted to bother with them and there’s often no seed testing rules in place for them. Word quickly spread, and we became known as authorities on native species largely used for reclamation projects, prairie restoration and national parks.

Many of these species have high dormancy and contaminants in them that are hard to identify. The seed rules don’t always address a lot of these very well. Seed testing involves a lot of science and a little bit of art, and we figured out how to work with them, how to expose the embryos to figure out viability, conduct tetrazolium testing and much more. It’s been a labour of love, and we’ve really honed our skills in this area.

Of course, we do a lot of other work as well for countless growers in our region and beyond.

The innovating we’ve had to do over the years has helped us adapt to changing times and a changing climate. Some years challenges us to use our skills to break dormancy. Other years it’s fungal issues, and the list goes on.

What sets us up for success is our strength as a seed testing family. We are not a corporate seed testing lab. Twenty years from now, I’d like to see Seed Check carry on with people who want to do this as a lifestyle rather than as a corporate venture.

We are able to offer something large corporate-style labs are not: personalized, customized service delivered by people who really care about the client. We’re proud to have delivered that for the last two decades, and it’s not going to change. We’re here because we love what we do.