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Author - Bamert Seed

Nick Bamert Interview

Brett Bamert: Hello, I’m Brett Bamert with, Bamert Seed Company.

Nick Bamert: And I’m Nick Bamert, Bamert Seed Company.

The History & Culture of Bamert Seed Company

Brett: And today we’re here to ask Nick a couple of questions. So, first question I’ve got, is can you share a little bit about the history and culture of Bamert Seed Company?

Nick: Sure. Well, my parents moved out here from Las Cruces, New Mexico, 1947, and thought he wanted to be in the cattle business. And then, the cattle market broke and he decided he just wanted to focus more on farming. And in 1951, he began growing his own, grass seed under contract for other seed companies. And, he continued doing that for several years, and just growing one species or two species at a time. But by the late sixties, he had decided that, the market had gone up and down and he thought he’d try his hand at, cleaning his own seed and marked them himself. And so that’s what he did. And, it kind of just continually grew from there. By the early eighties, we were growing about 5, 6, 7 different species. And, you know, what a lot of people don’t really know is we also grew hybrid per millet at that time. And, the native seed business was such a small niche and, it all over the country that, the market just wasn’t there really to sustain a, organization or a company. And so we grew hybrid Pearl Millett, but there, by the end of the, seventies, early eighties, I decided that we needed to really focus on the native business. And, I just liked it because of the, conservation efforts. You could see kind of the results of what we were getting done. And so we continued along that path, just growing different species. We just always enjoyed the, teaching the landowners kind of what we had learned in the production side of, growing seed all these years. And that was what they were needing. You know, they didn’t call it eco system science at that time, but that’s exactly what we were doing. Teaching them about how to plant it, how to control weeds, benefits of course are erosion control and, wildlife habitat and those type things. And so we just really enjoyed doing that where we were able to, to feel like we were making a difference.

What Do You Remember Most About Bamert Seed Company In The Early Years?

Brett: Yeah. Can you speak a little bit to maybe some of the memories you had as growing up in the business and what you remember most about Bamert Seed Company in the early years?

Nick: Oh, I remember in the back of the combines when there were a lot of times we were shoveling seed out a lot of fun. But, the, the highlights, I guess, we were just like, you, we grew up, y’all grew up in the business just like I did. And, we did everything from driving the tractor to combine to, sacking seed. We just always enjoyed watching things grow. I mean, you put the seed in the ground and there wasn’t, wasn’t any books. There wasn’t any teachers, there wasn’t anybody to teach you, you know? So a lot of times we planted things that we didn’t even know what they were gonna look like when we planted it, but we figured out how to make it work. And then to me, that was one of the highlights of growing up and just kind of sparked my curiosity in figuring out how to, process the seed and harvest the seed at the right time. And, those are the things that I really always cherished and getting to do ’em also in our family, you know, with my dad and, watching you and, your brother Austin doing the same type thing. It’s just a family organization. I love it.

The Story Of Tearing Tags & Watching TV

Brett: Kind of entrepreneurial and, problem solving every day. Yeah. And so there’s a lot of challenges that we’ve kind of think we’ve solved over the last 70 years. That’s exactly, so there’s a story about tearing the tags at the while you’re watch, listen, listening to the radio or watching the black and white TV.

Nick: Yeah, we did have tv. Yeah. <laugh>. But anyway, we, yeah, that’s exactly right. So that really goes back to the Pearl Millet business. Yeah. We sold a lot of pearl millet or so what we thought was a lot, but, but before that truck showed up the next day, those tags were all in a row and we’d have to tear each one of ’em off so that we could sew ’em on the bags. It wouldn’t take so long to put ’em on each bag. And, so that’s what we would do at night, a lot of times watching TV and, dad would come down there and throw box or two of tags there on the floor and, say hey, kids, separate these tags for us and we’ll be ready to go in the morning. Yeah, that sounds good to us.

What Do You Think Carl's Most Admirable Attribute Was?

Brett: What do you think Carl’s, most admirable, admirable, attribute was?

Nick: Oh, I, you know, number one, he was an entrepreneur. Yeah. You know, who else would go, you know, I know the market’s not real big there, but you know, it’s not like cotton or sorghum or anything like that. But let’s just see if we can grow this. And, then not only can we figure out how to plant it and get it up, but control the weeds and grow it. And I know they’re, they don’t make harvesters to really harvest it, but I think we can adapt this combine to where we can harvest the seed and then clean the seed, with equipment that wasn’t designed to do that. And so all of those things had to be kind of re-engineered to handle the products that we were handling at that time, as well as today. But, those, you know, that’s just one of the things that he was good at that, and he went to school to be an engineer and, he, he didn’t graduate, World War II, got in the way, but he, you know, he just enjoyed that. He just enjoyed trying to figure things out and problem solve. And I think all of us, have different degrees of that and different things that they enjoy. And, anyway, I just think that that was one of his biggest attributes is, trying to, just being curious and figuring out if he can make it work.

The Company's Transition & Where The Market Changes Lead Us To Where We Are Today

Brett: So he really laid a lot of the foundation on the production aspect and getting stuff harvested. And then he oh, certainly came back in 1981. Can you talk about that transition a little bit and, and, where you really saw the market going and how we made that change to be where we are today?

Nick: Absolutely. Yeah. I, you know, there again, I think we all stand on each other’s shoulders, but he had a, a, a great, foundation there. And he, kind of had the production, we had the farm production, going pretty good working, understanding how to bring new seed to, production. And when I came home, I just, there was something, I always thought Walmart was really popular back, especially getting rolling good in the seventies and early eighties. And what I saw them doing is they would take the product, you know, for the manufacturer kind of straight to the, to the, end user. And I thought, that’s what I want to do. And so that’s one thing that we always tried to do prior to that. It had native seed was such a specialty product, it would go through a half a dozen different distributors and merchandisers before it got to the end user. And the price might be three or four times or five from what we were selling it to. And so we did our very best to provide the seed directly to the landowner. And, and it also helped the landowner a lot in the sense that not only made it more economical where he could afford to do that, it also, he, he had questions, how do we plan it? You know, what happens when the weeds come up or whatever. And all those merchandisers and the distributors in between, they didn’t have those answers. And so they would end up calling us and then going back through the system, and finally they discovered, so y’all just talked directly to the people that are using it. And so it just made a lot of sense to us. We just need to be selling it to the people to solve their problems, you know, and to solve, help them be more successful. And when we started doing that, it started to really make a difference.

How Many Products Were We Producing In 1981? 

Brett: And how many products were we producing in 1981, you think?

Nick: Yeah, I think probably eight or ten.

Brett: Yeah. Yeah. And that changed pretty rapidly too, I would think. Eighties and Nineties. 

Nick: It did. Yes. And that was another thing, um, it we could see where, uh, diversity was such a key part of what’s going on, of, of trying to get that native, to make it look as much like native remnant as possible. And, uh, you know, that sounds a whole lot easier than it is <laugh>, you know, to, to just grow more species. But each one of them, as you well know, has their own particular, uh, needs. And, uh, whether that’s water, fertility, uh, how fast they mature, and every, there’s our every aspect to that. But, uh, we just continually kept looking, searching for other more species to add to the collection for those landowners. And, uh, there again, that was part of the things that we always enjoyed doing.

Then & Now

Brett: It’s amazing. The same things we were, you were talking about and thinking about in 1981 are the same things we’re thinking about and talking about in 2023.

Nick: <laugh> Well, they didn’t call it that back then.

Brett: So we multiplied it a couple times and we’re about to do it again. And so it’s, that’s the nature of the business.

Nick: That’s exactly right.

The Future Of The Native Seed Industry & How Bamert Fits Into That

Brett: Yeah. And I think we’ve talked a lot about this, but, your perspective on, on where we’ve come from and where we’re going, you know, we’ve talked a lot about where we, where we’ve come from, where, where do you see the future of the native seed industry and, and how Bamert Seed fits into that going forward?

Nick: Yeah, well it, you know, it’s just exciting for me because I, I don’t see anything but growth in that. I think, with limited resources that we, that we see every day, the native grasses and native forbes and legumes and things that was, that God put here, you know, that’s what we’re going to go back to over time. And I just think that the seed company is in such, is in a very unique position to be able to help in that, endeavor. It, you know, they’re, again, I just think that the people that that have gathered here have, are really making a huge difference. You know, they’re very knowledgeable and, they’re, they’re passionate about what they do, you know, and, we didn’t teach that. I mean, I mean, that’s, they come with that talent and, and they just love to help people and pass on the experience they’ve had. You know, everybody here, has, you know, been involved in this business through either through, NRCS, Parks and Wildlife, Natural Resource Districts, somebody for, you know, 20 years or better. And, and so they have the experience and expertise and they’re just so passionate about it. They want to be able to kind of really help people do that, you know, on a hand, hand to hand basis, just back and forth. And that’s something that I think our company is able to do is, reach out to those people and help them be successful.

What It's All About

Brett: It’s not really about selling seed at the end of the day. It’s about, oh no, making contact with that landowner, that project manager, figuring out what their needs are, what, what are their challenges, and then helping them develop a plan on how to be successful, not only in this short term for establishment, but also the long term success of that project and having a property that they can be proud of that meets the goals that they set forth early in that process by selecting the right seed. So.

Nick: Absolutely. Yeah. I totally agree. It’s just, to me, that’s the fun part, is seeing that their success, we just gotta figure out, and that’s one of the mantras. I know Rob and y’all say, well, well, what are your goals? What are you wanting to do when we’re talking to a landowner? And that’s what we’re trying to do is help, help them be successful. Yeah. What, what could be more fun than that? I mean, I just love that and, you know, helping the system, you know, control erosion and conservation and making a difference.

What Are Some Of The Biggest Changes You've Seen Over The Years?

Brett: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years, that you’ve led us that’s helped lead us to where we are today?

Nick: I guess number one on my list is, are the people, I keep coming back to that, but the people that are involved here today are, they just, they enjoy what they’re doing and they love helping people or they wouldn’t be here. And it’s just fun to work with those people. You know, it’s, it’s fine. Talk about the weather or talk about this or that, but these guys get in a room and they enjoy talking about plant species and diversity and ecosystem science and all and all. And it’s just fun to be a part of that. You know, it’s just cool. And I think it, that’s a neat thing that, that has changed over the years. I think in the beginning, of course, we were just trying to figure out how to produce seed, but now we’re passed way past that point to the point of being able to really produce seed at a high level of a lot of different species, but, and help the people be sure those species get planted back on the landscape. And I can’t help but think also the technology tractors and combines and, all the different harvesting equipment, that we have as well as, GPS. Wow. That, that’s interesting. Computer systems and, all of that I think is something that, has really helped us, grow and, and do a better job than we used to just be able to do. No doubt. Yeah.

What Do You Enjoy Most About What You Do At Bamert?

Brett: What do you most enjoy about what you do at Bamert Seed every day?

Nick: You know, I get to work on just special projects that I enjoy working on, that I had never really had time to do before. And, whether that’s go to meetings, that I hadn’t really been able to focus on before because we were, I was busy with a day-to-day operation, but now I get to go to meetings and visit with people, specifically about these kind of issues. You know, when we first started, we’d have a meeting somewhere and there wasn’t any need in having a national meeting cuz there wasn’t. But, 10 or 12 people would be there. But now you go to these meetings and not only are your state governments talking about it, your national governments talking about conservation, but, you know, there’s, there’s 500 people in a room. Boy, that’s, that’s the one thing that’s changed a whole lot is just people, interest in their environment and taking care of our natural resources. 

What's The Most Common Question You Get Asked?

Brett: You know, I think one question that we wanna make sure to, to ask everybody is, is what’s the most common question you get asked when people find out you’re in the native seed industry?

Nick: <laugh>, first off the, I I’ve never thought about it. I never thought about where seed came from <laugh>, you know, and you just think, wow. But I’m sure there’s a lot of those things I, in their business I wouldn’t think of either. But, you know, it always, you tell ’em just a little bit about what, what you do. You’re in the produce, native grasses, wildflowers, and they all kind of step back and go, now that’s cool. You go, well, you’re, I, I agree. It is cool. It’s, it’s fun to tell ’em. And then they get to asking a few more questions and, I think there again, it just touches everybody. You know, when you, you talk about native grasses and wildflowers, it’s just something they enjoy and, and they appreciate, you know, one thing I think that I, that makes Bamert Seed Company unique might be, you know, it’s a, I mean, it’s a family farm. It’s a family organization and, we stress, we’ve all raised our families here and are continue to do that. And I just think that, it’s something we think we, we certainly have a strong passion for. We want to, encourage everybody to take time for their family. We’re proud that we’re able to do that.

What Should People Know About Bamert?

Brett: Anything else you want the people to know about Bamert Seed Company?

Nick: I, I’m very, very proud of the fact that, you know, we have become a le the leader, if not a leader in the, native seed business, or industry. You know, it’s just such an important part of, of, what’s going on in America today, you know, with environment, being, one of the paramount, issues in, in the world and how we’re able to maybe contribute whatever small part that is. We feel like we’re certainly making a difference every day. And, and it’s not just the people in this room, it’s all the guys outside. It’s, you know, where we’re able to produce seed in different parts of the country or go down and do a prairie rem and harvest a native seed off the coast. You know, we bring those seed back here and provide those, different species or genetics to be sure that those seed are adapted for that local legal type areas that they’re going back into. And I’m just proud and happy to work with my family and good, good people that are here.