SEEHUSEN NAMED 2010 AGRIBUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR
Mar. 2, 2010
National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) reports:
OVERLAND PARK, KS - The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) has named Dave Seehusen, Executive Vice President, Ag Business Development for Land O'Lakes, Inc., as the 2010 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This award, which is NAMA's highest honor, will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2010 Agri-Marketing Conference, "From America's Heartland to the Rest of the World," April 22, 2010, in Kansas City , Missouri . The award honors outstanding leaders in agribusiness, education, government service or other agribusiness related areas who exemplify excellence in agribusiness by their significant contributions to the industry.
Dave Seehusen is known for his unique approach to individual and organizational leadership. He is a hands-on motivator on an individual level, while at the same time adept at building multi-functional teams and effective, often innovative, partnerships.
Seehusen has consistently made it clear that he believes that his most important job is to grow his people. For Seehusen, a leadership priority is to identify high-potential employees and then help them develop to their full potential. He personally mentors from five to eight employees at any given time, sharing his insight and experience and helping them learn from past successes and failures. Notably, his mentees range from support staff to mid-level managers to senior leaders. As a group, they have earned recognition both internally and externally, following in Seehusen's footsteps by making their own mark on agribusiness and the agriculture industry. Dave states, "At this age and stage of my life, I don't need to be up front. Helping develop future leaders is something I feel really good about."
Seehusen has taught all of his employees his growth-oriented business philosophy. His metaphorical questions are consistently, "How do you make the pie bigger?" and "How do you get from a 9" pie to a 12" pie?" He uses this analogy to challenge staff members to see where their business unit revenue can come from and how staff members can provide for the customer's future needs in order to learn how they are going to increase the size of the pie through better customer service.
The results have been remarkable. Seehusen led Land O'Lakes Seed (now Winfield Solutions) from $100 million in sales in 2000 to $1.3 billion in 2009 and more recently has played a key role in the expansion of Land O'Lakes Business Development Services.
When Land O'Lakes first started in the seed business in the mid 1980s, the member co-ops didn't care about seed. On the other hand, Seehusen's vision included a powerful belief that seed is important because all life begins with seed. He saw an opportunity to help the cooperatives sell seed and teach them the value of seed. Through his leadership, sales people were hired to help member co-ops sell seed and partnerships were formed that enabled everyone involved to get a bigger market share.
It was in 1988 that Seehusen first realized the impact biotech could have on agriculture. With Seehusen's visionary leadership, Land O'Lakes began investing in biotech in 1992, creating future biotech opportunities well before other companies realized the potential impacts. The biotech investments translated into real income just four years later in 1996. His insight and years of planning from 1988-1992, gave Land O'Lakes a huge biotech head start in the later 90s.
Seehusen also realized that just putting the product into the growers' hands was not enough. There was also a need to share production insight and expertise. Under his leadership, Land O'Lakes launched its industry-leading Answer Plot program in 1998...today that program includes 150 Answer Plot locations in 22 states and two provinces in Canada. Each Answer Plot site consists of roughly 3,000 trials that provide side-by-side comparisons of genetics and traits and treated with numerous defenses against insects and disease. In 2009, 18,968 growers attended an Answer Plot event in their area.
During Seehusen's tenure leading the Land O'Lakes Seed business, 1985-2007, the business grew from a $42 million line-item usually not listed on the company's financial statements, to being a $1 billion business. There have been great successes in bringing other cooperative partnerships onboard - CountryMark's seed business, WilFarms seed business (part of Farmland) and more recently a partnership with Tennessee Famers Cooperative, in addition to Forage Genetics International, the world's foremost provider of Alfalfa germplasm and provider of value-added traits to the industry. Land O'Lakes had an early partnership with Ciba (a legacy company that is now part of Syngenta) in which the cooperative cobranded NK corn continues to be a key strategy today. Under Seehusen's leadership, Land O'Lakes developed many partnerships with Monsanto which have enabled the establishment and growth of the CROPLAN GENETICS brand, Monsanto branded seeds, as well as a partnership on Roundup Ready alfalfa.
Seehusen charted a path and led a team in executing a plan that took a small, start-up seed business to one of the top four farm seed companies in the United States . At the same time, he recruited and mentored a team of young leaders, virtually all of whom are still with the company and now in senior leadership positions. Dave taught his team to win by making the pie bigger, and by seeking strategic partnerships with key companies with similar vision and complementary business models.
Throughout the years, agribusiness and specifically cooperatives have had a significant impact on Seehusen, and he has had a significant impact on agribusiness and cooperatives. He takes pride in having made a positive difference. Pride based in his belief that agribusiness is where everything begins - starting with the soil, the seed, food production, livestock, seeing the crops and animals grow - the foundation of life.
The clearest evidence of Seehusen's impact within the ag industry is seen in the repsect he has earned from Land O'Lakes industry partners...and competitors. That respect is the biggest indication of how much his integrity, business philosophy and win-win attitude are the foundation of Seehusen's everyday life, his business practices and his passion to serve customers within the ag community.