Re-Post : Indiana-based company maintains regional focus on helping farmers profit

March 15, 2018

*Original Reporting and Publication from Seed Today magazine*

Mark Denzler believes 1st Choice Seeds, Rushville, IN, has succeeded because the company has listened to its customers and responded with the products and services they want.

“We leverage our knowledge and seed options to help them make a profit with the unique advantages they have on their farms,” says Denzler, 1st Choice Seeds’ president and owner. “We make decisions as close to the farm gate as possible.”

The business was started as DS Brand Seeds in 1986 by Mark’s father, Don, who worked a long career in the agriculture industry and sold seed to Indiana farmers with a no-frills approach. Mark joined the company in 1994, and when Don retired in 1996, Mark along with his wife, Joyce, started Denzler Seeds, Inc. At that time, they also bought a seed processing facility in Marion County, IN. In 2009, they purchased Bird Hybrids of Tiffin, OH and branded the business as 1st Choice Seeds. They operated from the Marion County plant until 2012, when they moved offices and warehousing to Rushville. In 2016, they consolidated all activities and now operate entirely out of the Rushville location.

Mark Denzler says direct customer input continues to help set the company apart. “Big data, mass surveys, and focus groups have a place to inform us with the big picture of trends and needs,” Denzler says. “Nothing beats personally knowing your customers, and this happens at 1st Choice Seeds because we know our customers.”

1st Choice Seeds is regionally focused, with Denzler saying its sales region includes the timber soils in the Eastern Corn Belt. The company sells corn, soybean, wheat, and cover crop seed.

“The corn hybrids we sell perform in many different management systems, including conventional hybrids for farms that pursue non-GMO premiums, corn behind corn rotations requiring root-worm protection, and herbicide tolerant traits with above ground insect protection,” Denzler says. “Since we are Eastern Corn Belt focused, our hybrids are selected to perform with the regional disease pressures we have and the variable yield environments on our soils.”

Denzler says 1st Choice Seeds sells multiple-trait platforms along with a large offering of non-GMO seed.

“We provide multiple  seed solutions because our farmers manage inputs, insects, and weeds differently,” Denzler says. “Our brand is positioned to provide the seed that best fits the management strategy that is unique to the farms we sell to.”

Denzler says the company’s moniker is “1st in Seed Quality.”

“We deliver our seed with the highest germination standards in our industry,” Denzler says. “We provide a 100% replant opportunity for farms.”

In addition to starting with the highest quality seed, Denzler says the company works with its farms on hybrid placement and spends the growing season in their fields evaluating and adjusting their post planting management strategies as needed.

1st Choice Seeds is also a Precision Planting dealer and 360 Yield Center dealer, he says. 1st Choice Seeds conducts informational meetings to educate and inform its customers to aid in their decision making process, Denzler says. He says with multiple soybean trait platforms available, and more coming soon, farmers are faced with a complex decision.

“There is not an ‘easy’ button for soybean production anymore,” Denzler says. “Also, we have found that when new traits are released, farmers do not know all the details they need to succeed.” Denzler says 1st Choice Seeds shares the results with its customers of genetic performance tests of the leading germplasm on each trait.

“We are not ‘promoting’ a single trait, nor are we profiting from the Ag Chem package sold to the farm,” Denzler says. “Our position provides our customers with an unbiased perspective as they work through their trait decision for their acres.”

While 1st Choice Seeds and other companies throughout the seed industry have changed since 1994 when Denzler entered the seed industry, he says the company’s values and principles have not changed. Denzler says the company at that time wanted to access genetics directly from Holden’s Foundation Seeds, but up to that point, it did not have a direct relationship for the germplasm Holden’s sold. Holden’s required a written business plan that they would review before approving Denzler as a direct client, he recalls.

The values and principles that have remained with the company were included in the initial business plan presented to Holden’s, he says. “We are a trusted advisor to our farms because we have been consistent in a marketplace that has had tremendous upheaval,” Denzler notes. “For our customers, our suppliers, and our team members, they have been able to rely on this independent family business to be consistent and steady in how we conduct our business over all these years.”

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For the actual article from Seed Today, click here. 

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