Through IPSA, they’ve developed plenty of relationships with different folks in the industry, but they don’t need much to be recognized. Our Member Spotlight this month focuses on Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, owned by John and Shannon Latham.
John Latham grew up right next to their company headquarters in Alexander, Iowa; but, working in agriculture wasn’t always what he dreamed of doing.
“I originally dreamed of being a U.S. Senator,” John says. “I met Senator Grassley when I was young, and from there, I thought politics would be a great profession. Fortunately, I got involved in the seed business instead!”
John instead went to Iowa State University and graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business. From there, he joined the seed industry, and has found IPSA incredibly important in his journey.
“IPSA has allowed us to further develop relationships that help our business,” he says. “We’ve gotten a great deal of value from the IPSA winter conference, including the great speakers and breakout sessions. We’ve also gotten to take advantage of programs like the hardbox program and seed treatment testing, which provide a huge benefit to the business.”
As president of Latham Hi-Tech Seed, John gets to do just a bit of everything, but he mainly focuses on product development and sales. Also, in addition to running Latham’s Hi-Tech Seed, John is serving as the incoming ASTA Chair. But, in his free time, he spends a majority of time attending his kids’ activities. From football to basketball to showing horses, he says his two children, Elle and Ian, are doing it all. Add that with a lab named Bailey, and the Lathams have a whole pack!
Shannon, meanwhile, grew up on an acreage in Northeast Iowa and was actively involved in agriculture growing up. She was a 10 year 4-H member, earned a trip to the National 4-H Congress for Ag Careers, and placed second in state for the Sheep Project award. It seemed only natural for her to move onto Iowa State and double major in agriculture journalism and public service and administration in ag from there.
However, Shannon shares that she also dreamed of becoming something else whhen she was growing up: a veterinarian!
“I’ve always been an animal lover,” she says. “I loved going to the sale barn with my dad and buying bottle lambs when I was too young for school. By the time I graduated high school, I could do everything from giving vaccinations and putting in ear tags to hauling my own sheep to the fair.”
When not on bleachers for different events for her children, Shannon shares that she is a hobby farmer.
“I started Enchanted Acres pumpkin patch in 2012,” she says. “Each weekend during the fall, I host events to help families enjoy their time together. I also post all year long on my Enchanted Acres’ Facebook page and blog to advocate for agriculture.”
However, the seed industry really holds Shannon’s heart.
“My favorite part of the industry is the people whom I’ve met — from industry colleagues to farmer customers,” she says. “You won’t meet any more genuine, humble, and compassionate people in the world. I’m excited about the future of seed traits and technologies as well — I can only imagine what the next 15 years will bring!”
Thank you, John and Shannon, for being such wonderful members!
As co-owner of one of the fastest growing independent seed companies, Champion Seed’s Brett Hodnefield is proud to serve as IPSA’s 2020 board president.
A central Iowa native, Brett grew up on a grain and livestock farm located just six miles from Champion’s Ellsworth Iowa headquarters. Along with co-owner and brother-in-law Seth Hill, Brett has worked to instill many of the values he was taught on his childhood farm in the Champion Seed brand. Undoubtedly, this has played a role in the brand’s continued success and growth in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota and most recently the Dakotas. Champion Seed was founded in 2003 and is focused on seed corn and soybean sales.
Brett graduated from Iowa State University with an Ag Business Degree and can still be found on campus cheering the Cyclones to victory whenever he has the opportunity. He and fellow alumnus, Keri have been married for 23 years and have three amazing children; Kassidee, Kyler and Kolby. Kassidee is carrying on the family’s ISU legacy as a sophomore working toward becoming a veterinarian. Kyler is a junior in high school and Kolby is currently in sixth grade, both boys are busy with sports and 4H. The family has a 100 head cow/calf herd and as a family put in long hours into getting show cattle ready each year. The Hodnefield’s focus on keeping hard work and farm family values front and center for their children.
From his earliest days on the Hodnefield family farm, ag has been a passion for Brett. In addition to management responsibilities, he oversees the Champion Seed sales team. Brett continues to spend a great deal of time selling seed himself; because he enjoys spending time with growers and is far more comfortable on a farm than behind a desk.
Brett is no stranger to leadership positions like the one he’s undertaking for IPSA. He has served on the city council and as mayor of his hometown. Brett was also on the board for local county supervisors and for the city police. Most recently, served as a deacon and president of his church. He is particularly honored to become the 2020 IPSA president, not only because he’s proud of Champion’s independent success, but because of the role he believes independent seed companies play in delivering quality service and providing growers with greater diversity and choice.
When not selling seed or tending to chores, Brett thoroughly enjoys cheering on his children at sporting events. As a family, Brett, Keri and the kids get a kick out of traveling, hunting, fishing and spending time with family and friends.