Seed World

Colin Steen Says Independents Bring Local Expertise to Market

Why decide to work with an organization like the Independent Professional Seed Association (IPSA)? Colin Steen, CEO of Legacy Agripartners and incoming first vice president of IPSA says the thought for him was easy: if you want something to change, you have to lend your voice to the cause.

After 25 years of working for a larger, multinational company and switching gears to leading an independent company, Steen notes there were some expected road bumps along the way.

“It’s certainly different when you don’t own your own traits and germplasms. As a result, you quickly realize that your margins are a lot different to the numbers I used to see — and the competitiveness of that is really difficult,” says Steen during a Giant Views interview at the IPSA annual conference in Tucson, Ari. “It’s no different at any of the independent companies, right? We have to watch our cost structure very carefully because every bag of corn seed we sell, we owe a trait or germplasm royalty.”

With that difficulty comes different strengths. Independent businesses can be nimbler and more flexible with their business plans, and in addition, Steen says independents can bring local expertise to their customers.

“We can deal ourselves a favorable hand,” he says. “We have a local presence, local knowledge and we have strong people that we hire. Then, we start to stack the cards back in our favor.”

For Steen, that local expertise is critical to independents. One thing he’s noticed in his years in the seed business is that growers want to buy locally, from sellers they trust.

“Independence is so important to help set us apart from the rest of the industry,” Steen adds. “We have to be able to show farmers that you can have a truly independent point of view on what you should do on your farm. That way, they’re able to make the best choice for what’s right.”

Make sure to watch Colin Steen’s full interview above.