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Brett Bamert Interview

Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself

Rob Cook: I’m Rob Cook with Bamert Seed Company. I’m the Director of Business Development. And, we’re gonna visit a little bit today with, with Brett. Brett, you wanna tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit of your background and kind of how you came up to the company to, to be the president today?

Brett Bamert: Yep. Absolutely. So, I’m Brett Bamert, president of Bamert Seed Company. And, I guess you could say I was born into it. So, grew up my entire life, kind of working out in the production side of the seed business. Didn’t really know a whole lot of what went on in the office, mainly on the tractors and combines and, and harvest equipment. Hoed my first field when I was, felt like I was five. But dad tells me maybe I was closer to 10. Had a good, good time growing up in the business. Went to Texas A & M University, got my Bachelor’s in Economics there, and came back and started on this, seed company aspect of the business. And, I really found my passion in the, in the seed company side of it, and, decided to focus, focus there and, enjoy it every day.

History Of The Seed Company / What It Means To You & How It's Prepared Us To Get To Where We're Going

Rob: Yeah, that’s great. You had you, I mean, and with folks that deal with you day to day or, or any interaction with you that really comes across that lifetime in this industry is, is noticeable and appreciated, you know, and we, we talk a lot amongst each other about, how bright the future is for Bamert Seed Company. We, we don’t always do a great job of letting people know why that is, you know, so share a little bit with, with me about the, the history of the seed company and what it means to you specifically. Yeah. And, and then, and then maybe how that’s prepared us to get to where we are today and where we’re going.

Brett: Yeah. So, there’s obviously a, a lot of weight, I feel like, on, on the company’s shoulder being a third generation business. You know, I got to work with my granddad quite a bit early on and, you know, he tell me all sorts of things and remember this and do that, and don’t forget about this. And, just from all his many years of experience. So I feel like, I feel like I need to do, the generations before me, right. And continue on the legacy of, of what we’re trying to build here. And part of growing up in it was to see where we’re coming from or where we came from at least, for 35 years. And, help kind of allow that to build the vision of where we’re going in the future. And, a lot’s changed. We’ve, I think we’re pretty progressive. We’ve continued to think about what challenges are coming down the pike instead of trying to be reactive and addressing those after the, after the fact. You know, we try to project those out and have successfully, I feel like for the most part, been able to, head those off early enough to really make some major changes in the organization as the market has changed to help, maintain, our relevance in the industry and what, and what we’re trying to accomplish. And so, the major, aspects and the things that I’m thinking about, specifically, is people, you know, I think we’ve really developed and attracted, the best team in the country. Everybody’s got, years and years of experience with them walking in the door. They’re not here to sell seed. We don’t have to train ’em to sell seed because we’re not in the seed selling business. We’re in the business to help landowners be successful on their projects or a contractor to be successful. And so to be able to have a team that can come in and offer their expertise in a way that’s not, I’m here to help sell you seed, it’s, Hey, I care about all the other things that are gonna help you be successful, and that’s what we’re here to do. So from a sales team’s perspective, I’m extremely proud of that. And we, I certainly feel like we’ve made major strides in that and, and have the best team in the country. On the production side, I feel like we’ve done the same thing. We’ve hired Jeff King and, Jeff has done a phenomenal job of raising the bar on our production side. We have, cleaner better fields than what we’ve ever had before. He is a hundred percent focused, has the expertise to, to continue to produce more and more fields. You know, that’s really the big ask, I think over the last 10 years of our production farms is, so instead of growing 80 different species, we want you to grow 120 different species, but we don’t want you to do that in 200 different fields. And so just the management, the lift to, manage that whole thing has been, huge. And, and the production team has done a phenomenal job of picking that up and running with it and, and does a great job at weed control, getting things harvested on time to make sure we have really high quality seed to provide to the market. I would have to include the processing team in that as well. You know, Jeff and them do a great job of bringing good clean seed to the warehouse, but there’s still a lot of work on that side too. And we’ve invested, not only in the people there, but also in our, facilities and processing plants. And, so we’ve built two new ones over the last 10 years. And so that helps, ensure that we also have the cleanest seed, in those bags when they’re stamped and branded Bamert Seed Company. You know, our customers know what they’re getting, and so I’m really proud of them, them and their team and, and how they continue to raise the bar and elevate the quality of seed from the seed testing perspective as well.

The Addition of Manuel / What His Team Does & How The Teams Work Together

Rob: Yeah, I agree. You mentioned Jeff and, and what his leadership has brought to the company. Talk a little bit about, the addition of Manuel and, and, his leadership and what his team’s able to accomplish, and then kind of how, those two groups work together and, and how that’s all integrated then with the sales team.

Brett: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, Manuel coming in is, has, we were running one cleaning plant, I guess maybe two when he, showed up, but probably not very successfully. But he really came in and, took the old plant that seemed to be broke down more than it was running, and, was like, man, guys, we, we’ve gotta fix things right. And so, that’s the thing I most appreciate about Manuel, is the quality of work that, that he, his team puts out. It’s not, let’s just throw a Band-Aid on it or a quick fix, and we’ll worry about that in tomorrow or next year or next month. We’re gonna fix it. We’re gonna fix it right. And I think that carries through to his cleaning and processing of the seed too. He’s not gonna put something in a bag unless it’s clean enough. And so it really kind of has extended the time that it takes to clean seed because the standard now is, is higher. And so, and he feels, I think, the pressure from, to make sure that what’s in the bag is an accurate reflection of what the farm produced, and then the quality of service our customers are getting from the sales staff too. And so, you know, it’s not about each one of these departments doing, a phenomenal job as individuals. It’s about all these different departments, truly feeling accountable to one another. And, you know, that’s, that’s something that I think we’ve got today. And I feel accountable to everybody, on the team to make sure that the decisions I’m making on a daily basis positions the organization to be more successful tomorrow. And I feel like they, everybody here feels accountable to each other and the goals and the mission of the organization. So I’m really proud of them.

Rob: Sure.

Brett: And that couldn’t have happened without, uh, the right team, good people. And so I give, I give the team credit for all of that.

Family Business Dynamics

Rob: Yeah. So, you, you know, we, we’ve heard from, from Nick, we’ve heard, from you about the, the family run business, a little bit. I wanna expand on that a little bit. So from the outside looking in, we all have our perspective of, of a family run businesses, some, maybe some challenges and some, some of the great benefits that brings, give us a little bit of the inside knowledge about that family business and some of the dynamics. There’s, there’s other reasons, for this explanation too, because y’all done a phenomenal job as a family pass on that family business. And that’s some of the folks we work with, in the ag industry, these producers, that’s a, that’s a nut that’s hard to crack for a lot of people. And so share a little bit of how y’all been able to be successful in that.

Brett: Yeah. You know, I think there’s a lot of things in the family business attributes that, that are either, probably both, challenges at times, but then also, positives. You know, one of the, one of the things that come to mind really quick is, just agility. You know, we don’t have a big board of directors that we’ve gotta go convince at some point that we, you know, need to produce this new species. You know, cause we don’t always start production knowing that there’s a market out there and the return on investment. We just know that, that we feel like it’s a good idea. It’s got a place and it’s worth the risk to bring something new to market. And so, that agility’s really, is probably one of the greatest attributes of a, of a family run business. I feel like, you know, the other thing is, is we come back around to our team and, you know, without our team, nothing’s possible. And so to, to not always be so focused on, ROI and sales dollars that we realize that, you know, everybody in their life’s got stuff going on. I’ve got stuff in my life going on that I’m not gonna miss one of my kids doing something to be here to answer that phone if something happens. I know that there’s a team out there to step up and to when I’m gone to pick that up and do that. And I want to do that for them. And I want the team to be able to do that for them. Cuz I don’t want them to miss what’s important in their life, you know, to answer the phone. So, not that, not that if you’re a customer, we don’t want to be here to answer the phone if you’re calling, but we’re gonna make sure that, you know, that there’s a good work-life balance and, I think that helps us attract people.

Evolution Of Our Production

Rob: Yes. Agreed. We’ve talked a lot about, the evolution of the business. So can you specifically talk about, maybe the evolution of our production and what that’s what that’s done, for, for the company. And how it’s, positioned us for the future.

Brett: Yeah. You know, I feel like we’ve spent the last 10 years, probably investing a lot on the production side of it because, you can have the market, you can sell the seed, but if you don’t have the seed to sell, you know, there’s, there’s nothing to sell. And so we’ve really invested heavily on the production side of it. We’ve moved, most of our large scale production northeast of Amarillo, in an effort to ensure that we have a sustainable long-term solution for, for seed going forward. And so that’s been, that’s been huge and it’s all coming online now in the last couple of years and, and going forward. And so we’re gonna be able to provide a lot more seed to the market than what we have over the last 10 years. And so it’s not only about quantity, it’s also about diversity. And so as we’re moving major acre production up up north, we are able to focus more on smaller production fields in Millshoe that add value to these blends that we’ve never really had the ability or the space to accommodate before. And so, you know, we’ve got, oh man, 40, 50, 60 different, one acre fields today. And, 10 years ago I would’ve called me crazy if I would’ve known that we were gonna take that on in the next 10 years. There’s no way that that’s happening. But really the, the value that that provides, being able to, to do a little contract production with some NGOs and nonprofits, you know, if they’ve got a set of genetics that they’re really proud of and that they want reproduced, we can do that for ’em. And so all those things are now possible with, with our expanded production, with our team. And, I’m really proud of where we’re headed. And I hate to think what 10 years from now <laugh>, what that’s gonna look like, because, if I’d have called me crazy 10 years ago, I mean, I’d have been insane probably to think about what we’re gonna do 10 years from now. But, it’ll be really cool to, to continue to develop that out and, continue to bring value to the market.

Evolution Of The Different Parts Of The Company

Rob: Yeah, there has been a lot of evolution in the production and, and what we’re able to provide to the market. There’s been a lot of evolution of the way we’re handling and processing, these products, these different varieties, these different seeds. Did it take an evolution in staffing, to, to get to that point and, are, are, are, you know, talk a little bit about, maybe how evolution of each one of those different parts of, of, of the company has allowed us to produce it, clean it, sell it, and then, and then get it out the door.

Brett: Without the ability to produce it, there’s nothing, nothing to sell. And so, having Jeff and, and his production team in place that can handle those on a day-to-day level, having the equipment, you know, that’s something we really hadn’t talked about a whole lot, but we’ve, over the last 10 years acquired, a lot of different equipment so that we can handle these smaller production fields. So, there was a, a very large capital, investment in equipment and, the cleaning plant’s the same, you know, running a thousand pounds or a hundred pounds is a lot different than running 50,000 pounds. And so, there’s been investment there as well in equipment to handle these smaller lots and in the team, because now it’s not one line running cleaning one thing all the time. We’ve got, four lines going, every day and cleaning something different. So now you have people bouncing around trying to make sure that, you know, is this ready to bag? Do we need to clean it again? And so that’s really elevated what we’re trying to do on, on the processing side of it. And then at the end of the line, if, if you can’t sell it and market it and, explain the value of diversity to the end user, there’s no sense in having it. And so, the staff help helping these landowners, contractors, government agencies, develop a seed seed spec that meets their goals is ultimately where all that hard work pays off at the end.

What Does The Family Run Business Mean To You?

Rob: Talk to me a little bit about what it means to you to be able to, to, to come into the office every day and, work alongside your, your dad, work alongside your brother, and to build on, you know, what your grandfather started and the legacy that, that he started and your family’s able to continue.

Brett: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, it feels good. It comes, with its own, set of challenges I think, every day. But, you know, just knowing that, that every challenge that we hit today, somebody before me has had that challenge or a similar challenge, and it’s just like, okay, let’s break this down. Let’s figure out how to solve it and, let’s move on. That’s, that’s really, pretty encouraging to me to know that, that a lot of these problems have, have been dealt with before. And then, you know, the other thing about doing it with family is, is we may disagree on a solution, but at the end of the day, there is zero doubt in anybody’s mind that we’re all shooting for the same goal. It’s just different ways to get there. And so it really allows you to take a step back and say, Hey, I know you’re looking at this a little different. Why don’t you kind of better explain what, what you mean by that, or how you think we could get there and, and the impact that’s gonna make. But to be able to do that with, with them and, and my granddad for a little while, certainly meant a lot. It means a lot to me every day. Everybody’s got their own strengths, you know, and so being able to leverage those strengths for the benefit of the organization is, is huge.

What Excites You About The Future Of The Company / Industry?

Rob: What excites you most about the future Bamert Seed company and, and maybe the native seed industry as a whole?

Brett: Man, the thing that excites me the most about Bamert Seed Company is the fact that, I think over the last 10 years, or really, much longer than that, we’ve been making investments for the future. And it seems like all the puzzle pieces have, come together in a way that they have not ever before. And so we’re really, ready and, to take advantage of what the market has to offer for us going forward. We’ve got the production capabilities, the processing capabilities, and, and the team, to ultimately get that product to market. And so, you know, we’re here to take advantage of, of whatever opportunities are, are thrown in front front of us. I don’t feel like there’s any limitation now to, to what we can accomplish.

What Is Coming Down The Pipe From The Native Seed Industry?

Rob: Yeah. So speaking of those opportunities, look in your crystal ball a little bit and tell us what, what excites you or what you see coming down the pipe from the native seed industry.

Brett: You know, I think just like I’m talking to, to Nick earlier, uh, you know, in 1981, they were talking a little bit about diversity. And, you know, we think this is some new novel concept that they came up with in 2018 or something, and it’s not, they’ve been talking about it a long time, and we do have more diversity in 2000 than we did in 1981, and we’ve got more diversity in 2020 than we did in 2000. And so I think that mindset and that, philosophy’s not gonna change. And so, it seems like to me that that really kind of separates, you know, the market into those that can provide the diversity to those projects, landowners and project managers. That’s a lot of value that you’re adding in that bag for those, customers. And so as time goes on, I just feel like that’s going to continue to, to be more and more important, and we’re gonna need to continue to lean more and more on our production facilities. And, and so that, you know, that, that really gets me excited because ultimately at the end of the day, that ensures that we’re getting better material on the ground where it needs to be, to meet the goals of that customer. And so, at the end of the day, if we can help, help advance the success of our customer, that’s, that’s worth the effort to get there.