JACKSON, Minn. — There’s a new kid on the agriculture seed block. He’s talking corn. He’s 35 years old with already nearly a dozen years in the seed industry. He’s now president of his own seed company. His name is Mitch Rowe.
SureFlex Hybrids is the name of Rowe’s enterprise. Rowe bought the DeKalb seed processing facility in Jackson, Minn. The DeKalb property shut down a few years back when ‘merger mania’ was in high gear across the corn belt.
So Rowe is now producing his own seed. He’s also processing his seed in his own processing facility. Yep, he’s ambitious. He’s got 27 hybrids ranging from 81-day to 115-day maturities. He doesn’t have any dealers. He sells direct, via telephone or e-mail. His seed is packaged in a plain brown bag. His price is $97 a bag, delivered directly to your farm.
And he and his staff seem to be having a ball!
In a brief telephone conversation on Dec. 30, Rowe shared a few details about his company — very likely the newest seed corn outfit in America! But what gave him the ambition to jump into this very competitive seed industry, monopolized so to speak by the ‘big three’?
He simply responded, “I’ve been in the seed industry my whole life. I could see an opportunity to start something special.”
Indeed he has. SureFlex Hybrids markets non-GMO seed maximized for performance. “We understand the importance of a farmer’s bottom line,” Rowe explained. “We’re not in this business to win yield contests. We’re here with the only goal of helping a farmer make more money.”
As he talks about the scope of the seed industry today, Rowe emphasizes his dedication is to provide farmers a profitable corn crop. He’s well tuned in to the commodity crunch of the last few years. “We’re here for the farmer, not to enrich corporate execs and shareholders of the Big Three in the seed industry. I consider it a privilege to serve the American farmer.”
In 2018, SureFlex launched into the seed world with nine hybrids. This year, 27 hybrids are in the Crop Year 2020 ball game. “We cover most of the corn acres of the United States. Three of our hybrids have a grass-herbicide trait relating back to pre-Roundup era.”
But why no dealers? Cost-efficiency is the answer. “We’re not doing the traditional dealer,” Rowe said. “We’re going all on-line selling through our digital marketing campaign. We’re somewhat surprised how rapidly farmers are using their credit cards. We’re getting orders from all over the U.S. and there isn’t any particular maturity range leading the parade.
“Because of the delayed harvest up here, some of which still isn’t completed, our earlier 85-day corns aren’t yet moving much. But that’s to be expected in view of how many growers were wrestling with their harvests this fall.”
So is the $97 per bag the bell ringer for SureFlex Hybrids? Not so, said Rowe. “Our biggest marketing attraction is that we are not associated with any of the large ag businesses that right now are dominating in the ag-input sector. Farmers seem to appreciate that we are independently owned with intentions of making money just for our growers.”
When does seed shipping start? Rowe paused, “Just had a guy from southwest Iowa call. He purchased his order on line with his credit card. We just finished up bagging and he’s ready to take delivery any time now.” SureFlex will deliver with their own trucks, but Rowe knows he’ll also have to hire contract haulers.
And why the plain brown bag? Again it’s a cost factor. “The farmer doesn’t realize he’s paying for everything besides the seed,” explained Rowe. “Any special printing or color on the bags is a cost to the seed buyer also. We’re like a farmer. We watch our costs and then we’re able to offer our product at a better price. An identity tag will be sewed on when the bags are filled. This tag will have all the info relating to that particular hybrid.
“We’ve shipped some seed already, but February will be the biggest month. We grew about 78 percent of our production right here in the Jackson area. We use a Nebraska processor to handle the rest.”
Yes, thinking positively is the first rule in the seed business. Rowe said the Jackson area and his processing facility has the capability of doing upwards of 500,000 bags of seed. His goal for the current selling season? “A sell out,” was his quick reply. And Rowe has no hang-ups about not offering the full slate of ‘trait enriched’ genetics which quickly gets you into the $300 price bracket.
“What we are selling are products that have been through the wringer of environmental challenges. At the end of the day, agronomically they’re as good as anything out there. Our goal is to make the farmer more money. You don’t win all the top yields, but most often our products are generating more net profit. Bottom-line margins is what our hybrids bring to the growers.”
So why the name SureFlex? “Just a word that says it all,” sums up Rowe.
For more information, visit Rowe’s website at www.sureflexhybrids.com or call (833) 300-9797.