As Mustang Seeds expands its footprint, Red Horse Seed Production also grows to meet the increased demand. Evidence is seen in the changes to the facility located on S.W. 10th Street on the Madison bypass.
For the third time in five years, a row of 10 hopper bins is being added to the south side of the lot. In addition, Red Horse is adding a new seed cleaner and reconfiguring the warehouse to include a new repackaging center.
"I grow the Red Horse side of things to meet the demands of Mustang's growth," said CEO Terry Schultz.
With the changes, Red Horse is changing the way seed, primarily soybean seed, is handled. Rather than cleaning the seed prior to repackaging, the seed will be cleaned prior to storage. By doing this, Red Horse can repackage the seed more quickly when it is needed.
"We can clean it and have it ready and package it to meet the demand of the sales," said Justin Wise, general manager of Red Horse Seed Production.
Previously, Red Horse would have to clean the seed and then shut down the cleaning facility to repackage the seed, slowing the response time. Now, seed can be repackaged on demand, improving the response time.
Cleaning the seed prior to storage also offers greater flexibility for customer service.
"We can load a semi out of the bin or bring the seed into the packaging center," Schultz said, explaining that seed sold in Mustang Seeds' ever-expanding service area is often packaged while local producers may simply load it into a semi.
These changes at Red Horse are being made in response to growth that Mustang Seeds is seeing. In recent years. Mustang Seeds has not only partnered with GDM, a company based in Argentina which is doing innovative research to improve soybean production, but also acquired Terning Seeds, a family-owned seed company in Minnesota.
"That increased our footprint and the need for different packaging types," Schultz said.
With the acquisition, Mustang Seeds has increased its sales area east into Wisconsin. GDM was attracted to Mustang Seeds when the Argentine company began to look for a partner in the U.S. because of growth like this, according to Schultz.
"We're growing faster than any other seed company in the area," he said.
He attributes this to a business philosophy that the company has had since it was started in 1963 -- promoting its customers' profitability.
"You build that rapport with your customers and that's what helps you grow the business," Schultz said.
This philosophy shapes not only relationships that the company builds with its customers but also business decisions.
In 2019, when flooding prevented area farmers from planting their crops, Mustang Seeds allowed customers to bring back their seed, reducing the hit that farmers would take. The seed was stored in a climate-controlled facility over the winter, tested this spring and sold this spring.
"This year, we have some of the best-looking crops I've seen in mid-June," Schultz said. While harvest is weeks away, current conditions indicate farmers could see bumper crops this year.
The new hoppers at Red Horse are also necessary in response to another business decision at Mustang Seeds which is intended to increase customers' profitability. In 2021, Mustang will begin to offer exclusive varieties of soybean seeds that result from research being conducted by GDM.
GDM uses gene-editing technology to replicate conventional breeding methods in a more precise and efficient manner. As a result of this research, the exclusive varieties should be among the highest yielding soybeans, according to Schultz.
"We will have the exclusive lines traited by 2022," he said. Current varieties, such as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, offer traits upon which producers have come to rely.
Schultz is excited by this development, not only because it's cutting edge and innovative but also because it's consistent with his philosophy.
"The biggest thing has been to offer the customers choice and products to make their farms profitable," he said. "If our customers are profitable, that's what we focus on."