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Author - Bamert Seed

James Locke Interview

Introducing : James Locke

James: So, my name’s James Locke. I’m, I grew up in Lubbock, Texas. I was the son of a psychologist. So naturally, I decided I wanted to go into agriculture, <laugh>. My, my mother’s family had a farm that I just grew up, loved agriculture. But coming from the city background, I went through Texas Tech and, while going to school at Texas Tech, I, was studying crop science and I went to work for the Texas A & M experiment station, doing horticultural crop research. So that was kind of my first real farm experience, getting on a tractor every day and whatnot. Went on to become a demonstration assistant with, the cotton agronomist in Lubbock. And, he informed me that I was gonna go to Texas A & M and do a Master’s degree, which I informed him at the time, doc, I don’t wanna do a Master’s degree. And he told me you start in three weeks. So I, I went ahead and did a Master’s degree, which was a great thing. After that, uh, I did that Master’s in, in weed science, so I really studied herbicides and, and, and, you know, weed ecology and interaction with props. After, after grad school, I guess I was supposed to get a PhD, but I decided I was really, really done with school then. And I went to work managing a contract research company where we did a lot of work with, with ag chemicals, getting, you know, crop protection products, getting them, uh, labeled through the EPA system. You know, that that goes through, through that. Worked with, over the course of that was able to, produce test plots on, on about a hundred different species of crops. So I got to do a lot of that. After that, I went on and, and was a, a farm and ranch soils and crops consultant for about 17 years, helping farmers and ranchers correctly use, you know, not only fertilizers based off of soil analysis, but also did a lot of weed and brush control work with that. So when, pretty diverse background, working with a lot of different crops. And then when I came here to Bamert, you know, it was a, you know, I thought I’d been in a lot of diversity before and then I got here and realized just how diverse this, this particular industry is <laugh>. So, you know, that’s, that’s kind of where I came from. And, you know, I, I think a lot of the diverse, you know, interactions that I’ve had with, with those different jobs, either with extension, working with, with cotton farmers or in the contract research business, working with, you know, all the different, you know, manufacturers that we worked with and, and dealing with EPA and, and then working with farmers and ranchers, you know, helping them solve their problems for 17 years. I think it really set me up well to, to be able to help the producers and, and, and land managers and, and people in the reclamation industry here at, at Bamert.

Rob: Yeah, I agree. Your, your herbicide expertise alone bring, brings a lot to the game. And then your knowledge of, consultation has, has really helped our customers. And we could hear that every day, so we appreciate that.

What Surprised You Most About Bamert?

Rob: What you talk about coming to Bamert recently, what’s your, what were you most surprised about? You touched on that a little bit, but expand on a little bit. What were you most surprised of when you got here?

James: It was really the diversity of all the different fields and, and I guess industries that, that Bamert touches. Cuz when I ran the contract research company, we did a lot of work up at the experiment station North Clovis and I drove by, you know, on, on the highway a thousand times and, you know, there was a Bamert Seed Company sign on the side of the road. I didn’t think a whole lot about it, you know, Bamert native seed, but what can that be? And then the first day that I worked for Bamert, we were actually at an oil field show and I’m thinking, oil field show. We’re a seed company, why are we here? And then getting to talk to people at the, at the, these, these different oil field shows that we’ve been to. And it’s kind of funny cuz they walk by and they, they look at you and it’s like, you know, are you just a lost aggie <laugh>? Like, why, why are you at an oil field show? And either they walk by and just don’t ask, or they’ll come up and they’ll give you that quizzical question. And there’s always this neat aha moment when you explain to ’em about, you know, all that seed that has to go back onto a, onto a right of way or a, or an oil field, you know, pad location or whatnot. When they pipeline, when they reclaim all those things, that seed comes from somewhere and that’s us. And there’s, they get this big aha moment and, you know, it’s not just the oil industry, you know, it’s the, the solar industry which is so exploding right now. And, you know, wind farms and, and of course still the farmers and ranchers that, that we always used to, which was kind of the little narrow focus that I always thought of as native seed was, you know, that’s people restoring, you know, prairie pasture. But that’s, there’s so much more to what we do. And that’s, that was the biggest surprise to me. I did not expect that.

What Do You Enjoy Most About Your Job?

Rob: So talk a little bit about your surprise, getting here, but what, what do you say you enjoy most about your job?

James: It, it kind of goes back to being similar to whenever, you know, we’re, we’re consulting, you know, it’s helping people find solutions to whatever problem they they might have. And that’s, and it’s not always a problem that we are the ones that solve. And, and to me that’s fine. I mean, I’m, I’m perfectly happy if, if we’re not going to, if the solutions that we have available are not gonna be appropriate for what they need, then I’m happy to help them find whatever it is. And, you know, I, I get a lot of really positive feedback, you know, from, from people. Not only when I help them find a seed blend or whatnot that they want, but when I explained to ’em that we don’t have what you need and you know, this, this is what’s gonna be, you know, the best interest in in solving, you know, the issue that you had and their common response is, well, I really appreciate that. I may not need you now, but if I ever do need seed, I know who I’m calling. And I like that. I, I I like to get that kind of positive feedback.

Rob: Yeah. And, and and you know, I think, the folks that we have on Seth brought that to the job, that same exact quality that you’re talking about. And I so greatly appreciate it.

What Problems Do You Think We Solve For Most Of Our Customers?

Rob: So on that a little bit, what challenges, what problems do you think we solve for most of our customers? I know there’s probably a multi-part question because you mentioned earlier we touched several different industries, but expand on that a little bit. Is some of those problems you feel we solve?

James: I think the biggest problem that we solve is helping people get a, a site specific or problem specific solution. You know, a lot of places there’s just, you know, you need seed, this is what we have to sell and because we sell it, this is what’s most gonna fit for you. I think where we go in and we help people, people design something or, or create something that’s, you know, solves their problem, you know, you know, and, and they, they get a, get that resolution to solving a problem, I think is the, and, and it’s whatever kind of problem it is. I mean there’s, you know, whether it’s pipelines or pastures and, you know, that’s, that’s where we, you know, we concentrate on what their end result needs to be and what they want to get out of it, rather than just, you know, selling ’em some seed and putting, getting some grass on the ground.

What's The Most Common Question You Get?

Rob: You bet. So with your varied background and, experiences, all the folks you’ve, you’ve been able to meet and the network that you bring with you, but all those folks in that network, what’s, what’s, what’s the most common question you get from a lot of those folks about what you do and selling native seed?

James: It, it usually goes back to trying to explain the problems that we’re trying to solve. Cuz you know, you tell somebody who, okay, I sell seed and they’re like, eyes glaze over. That’s, you know, who cares about selling seed? And, but you explain all the problems and you know, particular solutions, you know, the, the energy sector is the one that that seems to, you know, like just like me before I came in here, that’s the one that surprises everybody. And, and you know, one, they don’t realize that the energy sector has that responsibility that they have to do the things that they do. So it’s, it’s kind of educating folks on, on that type of, you know, the other things that are required that are not necessarily something that most people ever find out about her. And I’ve, you know, I I was very much the same way. I mean, I go to, you know, when we do go to these, you know, Permian Basin oil show and stuff like that, I’ve lived in the oil patch my entire life. And to me it was, you know, pumpjacks maybe a, you know, tank batteries and whatnot. That was all. And you go to the, you know, to a show like that, I mean, people are surprised to see us there, but I’m equally surprised to see it just the breadth of what the, that industry is. And I think, you know, opening our eyes to most industries are gonna be like that, that there’s so much more that, that we don’t know about. You know, and, and that’s, that’s a good part of those industries being able to do their job, that, you know, that all of that stuff kind of stays invisible in the background. So.

The Dynamic Of The 3 Parts Of The Company

Rob: Yeah. So tell us a little bit from your perspective about the dynamic between maybe, you know, we kind of say we have three parts of the company, the production, the warehouse, and the sales. Tell us a little bit from your perspective and your experience, of about the dynamic, how those work together, and then the value of having all those folks in what they were.

James: Well, starting with the production side, it’s, you know, talk about the diversity of the, all the different types of native grasses and forbes and wildflowers and everything that, that we grow here. And, you know, Jeff’s dedication to being able to pull all that stuff, Jeff, and, and the whole farm crew being able to pull that stuff off. And, and it always kind of amazes me cuz I considered myself to be a fairly well-rounded and accomplished agronomist just because of all of the different stuff that I had worked with. But the thing about it is, most of the agronomic crops or horticultural crops, whatnot, that I’ve worked with, you know, there’s a, there’s a reservoir of, of, you know, academic data or information out there on doing that. These guys have figured this stuff out mostly on their own. Cause there’s not a whole lot of stuff published on native grass seed production. You know, there’s lots of stuff about Rangelands, but when we’re producing seed and trying to produce the quality that we do and whatnot, we do a whole bunch of things that I would never recommend to a range land producer, you know, as a way to manage that property. So the fact that, that Jeff and his guys are able, and Austin don’t leave him out, but <laugh>

Rob: Can’t leave Austin out.

James: Yeah. Don’t, don’t leave Austin out, but, but the fact that they can produce as efficiently so many different crops, harvest them and, and then get ’em into the next phase where Manuel and and his group and the warehouse can, can get all that stuff cleaned and, and, and produce seed that we can sell across the country, you know, in into places where it fits anyway. But, you know, we can get the noxious weeds out so that we can able to do that, you know, keep up with the, you know, testing so that we stay in, you know, we’re, we can legally sell and keep track of all the stuff across all the warehouses. And we can do, like I did just now, you know, I I I filled a, an order for a construction company and you know, that order’s already being processed, it’s put on a pick sheet, they’ll pull that, have that stuff blended in bags with all the correct tags on it and ready to ship tomorrow afternoon. I kind of find that really impressive.

Rob: Phenomenal, isn’t it?

James: Yeah. That, that they can, they can pull off all that kind of stuff. And, and I like that I, I get to help some on the production side. I I really enjoy that, you know, going out with, you know, I learn something new every time I get out in the field on, on a lot of those things. I’ve got no desire to work in the warehouse and, and with the seed cleaning stuff, cuz that looks like way too hard to work and I’m, I’m, I’m too lazy to <laugh>. I’m, I’m too old and, and unable to do that kind of physical labor anymore. But they’re a, they do just a, an outstanding job. So, and then it all goes back to, you know, we call us sales staff, but I almost consider us, our sales team is, I mean, yeah, we, we help fulfill orders, but I consider almost more of consultants to help people get to the problem, you know, a solution to the problem that they, that they’ve got where seed happens to be that solution. So that’s kind of where I, I see us fitting in into that world.

What Excites You About The Future?

Rob: So you, and you touched on it a little bit, but from your roles here as, a reclamation specialist, a consultant, not just a salesman, and then your role in, helping with the production aspect, you, they can plan kind of both those roles. What excites you about the future?

James: Of Bamert Seed? You know, I think it’s the opportunities that are on the horizon. I think, you know, mentioned the, the solar industry that’s kind of the wild west right now. And it seems to be popping up all over, but I don’t see that going anywhere. But, you know, I also look at the, you know, this, this big push going into the future about carbon capture. You know, grasslands are one of the most important sinks of carbon. And not to be political or anything, I don’t know whether that has anything to do with climate change or not, but I know that healthy prairie soils and being able to develop into a, what I consider most, every landowner I know wants to be a good steward of the land. And being able to put, you know, these types of, you know, plant ecosystems in onto the ground, to me, I think is, you know, it’s, it’s a privilege to be able to help people do that.

What Should People Know About The Company/Industry?

Rob: What, is there anything we missed that you, you think folks ought to know about your role or about the company or about the industry?

James: I don’t know that I can really speak to, I mean, my role is to do whatever I need to do. And, you know, the industry is, you know, obviously developing where it is. I mean, one of the things that I find to be pretty cool about this location, or or this company is, you know, being a third generation and then every once in a while we get to watch the fourth generation come over and steal candy or whatnot. And there, you know, little cute ones coming over. So, you know, the, the fact that, you know, I think anybody, anybody in this company, not just, not just myself, I think, you know, if, if we need to, if you need to go walk in and talk to the president and have a discussion with him about something, you know, that that’s, that’s open and available and that doesn’t work that way in a lot of places. So, you know, there’s, you know, I think being part of a family company is, is, is kind of unique and, and kind of neat and especially a, a third generation one in this day and age, that just doesn’t happen that often anymore.