Choosing the right partner

Given the events of the last 1-2 years the benefit of deep relationships with your vendors and your customers are more important than ever before. Regardless of the industry we regularly hear about lengthened supply chains, increasing costs, and companies re-negotiating contracts before they are fully executed.  

In agriculture, we have often taken the value of these relationships for granted. We have prided ourselves on a handshake deal based on the principles and the importance of the partnership overall. The famous example of JR Simplot agreeing to supply Ray Kroc and his McDonalds’ restaurants their potatoes for the french fries with a handshake deal sticks in my mind as something that turned out to be far bigger than eiter party could have imagined. They are still business partners over 50 years later. As the globalization of our economy hits closer to home for farmers and ag companies, an agreement sealed with a handshake feels more distant than ever. 

When that time comes to choose a new partner or evaluate a current relationship, how do we know we are making the right decision? How can I be sure that they have my interests and the best interests of my customers in mind? I am certain that many of us have our own ‘rubric’ we use for these decisions, but here are a few important things that come to my mind: 

Their team is willing to understand my needs and the needs of my customers  

I know that not every partner will be able to meet all of our needs, so it is really important that they communicate what they are good at and what they are not a good fit for. Farmers are always skeptical of the salesman that can meet all of their seed or input needs, and we should be as well.  

They are honest with me about what they can and cannot deliver in a timely fashion 

This has been a particularly trying year in agriculture input purchases. Often the seller does not have the specific variety or hybrid, or the amount of fertilizer or crop protection that the purchaser was expecting. I have heard many stories this spring of farmers being surprised last minute about a change to what they have ordered. While it can be a tough conversation, the partners that are honest with us about what they can deliver and when will always get the benefit of the doubt for the longer term.  

Negotiations feel less like high stakes affair and more like a dialogue towards a common goal 

When I first started as the head of NK Seeds in 2009 I had a meeting with Mike Vande Logt, who at that time headed up Winfield’s seed business. Mike made it clear that whatever agreement we came to between our companies would only work if both of us felt good about it. This sounds obvious, but how many times has one party walked away thinking “this is going to be a really good deal for our company” and not given a lot of thought about the other side of the discussion.  

They have the same values or core principles that our company does 

While I don’t expect all of our partners to mirror exactly the values of Legacy Agripartners, I certainly hope that at their core they operate with integrity and value the impact of our farmer customers. While product performance and other aspects can win the day in the near term, our closest relationships are with those companies who mirror our view of the agricultural landscape.  

At Legacy Agripartners we are proud to have partners that help us be successful and provide farmers with products that help increase their profitability and productivity on their farms.  While it has become cliché to say that we value these relationships, we understand how important we are to our customers success. When input costs are at their highest point in years, we must find ways to help farmers make more profit than in the past; not just produce more output. Whether it is selling our Legacy Seeds alfalfa to a dairy farmer, helping with choosing the right silage hybrid for  cattle with our Ration Choice® hybrids, or exporting our DF Seeds non GMO food grade soybeans to Japan; our partners are fundamental to our growth and our customers growth.  

We look forward to the opportunity to grow our relationships with our farmers and build relationships with new farmer customers, as well as find new companies that help us achieve our mission of being a source of strength for agricultural America by doing right by farmers.  


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