Madison Daily Leader
By MARY GALES ASKREN, Staff Reporter | Posted: Monday, March 4, 2019 3:36 pm
Partnership expands Mustang Seeds family
PRESIDENT TERRY SCHULTZ, CEO of Mustang Seeds in Madison, said his family had the Mustang brand before Ford introduced the classic car. Now they are sharing it with GDM, another family-owned business, to offer farmers new products that promise to have strong yields.
The family at Mustang Seeds expanded last week. That’s the way CEO Terry Schultz is looking at a new business venture in which the business started by his father Ray will join forces with another family-owned business to offer customers access to new products.
“With GDM’s breeding, they are rapidly bringing new products to the United States,” Schultz said on Friday, just one day after signing paperwork which made GDM a partner in Mustang Seeds. “We are going to have direct access to all the new products that come out of their genetic research and development program.”
GDM is a global company based in Argentina, which focuses on soybean research, development and commercialization. According to its website, the company has a presence in 15 countries, and 21 percent of the world’s commercial soybean production is derived from genetics developed by GDM. Schultz said the company sold more than 41 million units of soybeans worldwide in 2018 and had 48 percent of the market share in South America.
“They also work in wheat and corn,” he added.
Despite this worldwide influence, the company is still family-owned, and that affects the way it does business. Schultz spoke with Gerardo Bartolome‚, whose son Ignacio is the company’s business manager for the U.S. and Canada, after signing the paperwork on Thursday. Bartolome‚ noted the difference between a publicly-traded company and a family-owned business. “They live for the quarter,” Schultz said, referring to a company’s quarterly report in quoting Bartolome “Families live for generations.”
This development is not one Schultz expected a year ago. Only after he was approached by a firm that indicated GDM’s interest in finding a U.S. partner to launch their products into the U.S. farm market did he begin to explore the possibility. “Their research and development efforts in the United States have been going for approximately the last eight years,” Schultz said.
He traveled to both North Dakota and Minnesota to see the research plots GDM has there and was favorably impressed with what he saw. “What impressed me is that all of their lines looked very agronomically sound and were easily converted to new trait platforms,” Schultz said.
While he was looking at GDM, GDM was looking at Mustang Seeds.
“They interviewed a number of seed companies. After doing their interviews, they felt Mustang Seeds was the best fit,” Schultz said. With the company’s growth over the last five years; a loyal customer base in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota as well as a market footprint from Montana to Wisconsin; an established production, storage and distribution system; and a compatible business philosophy, Mustang Seeds had much to offer.
“Customer choice was key for both companies, and that was the biggest factor,” Schultz said.
In the end, the seed conditioning, warehousing and delivery systems were separated out of Mustang Seeds and a new company was launched, which will remain a Schultz family business — Red Horse Seed Production (RHSP), Inc.
According to a press release, Justin Wise will serve as the general manager of that company, which will have Mustang Seeds as a primary customer. Schultz emphasized that customers will not see a difference in Mustang Seeds. They will have the same choices they have had in the past and will be served by the same people. “We keep our customers in the front of our minds in selecting products,” he said.
The GDM influence will be seen later this year when Mustang Seeds plants the first local research plots so area farmers can see how those products developed by GDM fare in this region. These new products will be integrated into Mustang Seeds’ breeding platform over the next two or three years, and the first new products will be available in 2020, according to Schultz.
He is excited by the work being done by GDM because it results in a product that is not classified as a GMO. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are believed by some to be the cause of the increasing incidences of food allergies and other health problems such as Crohn’s disease. “They are using gene editing to actually take a gene out of the plant, make it better, and it’s still considered a non-GMO,” Schultz said. He believes this is beneficial to both growers and customers. As a result of the process used, they will be able to introduce new seed traits more easily, Schultz explained. This ensures the genetics will yield.
“Yield comes from the factor of the best genetics,” he indicated, not the traits as some people believe.
“The best genetics create the yield for farmers,” Schultz reiterated. Because of the new partnership, Mustang Seeds will be able to deliver exclusive new products to area customers. Farmers won’t have to wonder whether the seed available from another company is essentially the same product.
In a press release on Friday, the company describes the partnership as “a first for Mustang Seeds” and “a milestone for GDM.” “The future is bright with Mustang Seeds and GDM joining forces, and I am excited for the future,” Schultz is quoted as saying. Ignacio Bartolome‚ also expressed his pleasure at the partnership in the press release. “Through Mustang Seeds’ in-depth knowledge of the American producer and its vast distribution network, GDM will deliver the best genetics to the American farmers. We both share a vision and commitment to our customers and their growth.”