NAMA is pleased to announce Sonny Beck, president, Beck’s Hybrids, as the 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This award, which is NAMA’s highest honor, will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference, “A Fresh Perspective,” April 10, 2014, in Jacksonville, Florida. 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.
Sonny Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids, has led the company to unprecedented growth. As the largest family-owned seed company in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids is now the sixth largest seed company in the U.S. Under Sonny’s leadership, Beck’s Hybrids has experienced a 20 percent increase in sales each year for the last 20 years, doubling in size every four years.
As soon as Beck joined the family operation in 1964, after graduating from Purdue University, he never let grass grow under his feet. Always aiming at building closer, stronger relationships with customers, Beck immediately launched a couple of customer events that are now long-standing traditions.
It was in that same year, Beck started what is now called the Practical Farm Research (PFR)® program. Still today, the PFR program is unlike any other in the seed industry. Focused on farmer’s needs, hundreds of studies are completed at five Beck’s locations in an effort to look at how different management practices perform in different environments. The information is delivered to farmers across the Midwest in a 280-page summary book, website and field shows.
Beck has frequently stated that before 1992 Beck’s Hybrids was a seed producer who happened to do some marketing, but with the arrival of traits, Beck’s became a marketing company who happened to produce most of their own seed.
But it was not just traits that Beck and the Beck’s Hybrids team pursued. In 2001, Beck’s Hybrids was the first to market 100 percent of its seed corn with a seed-applied insect control system called FaSTart®. Over time the seed treatment evolved and in 2009 Beck’s Hybrids became the first seed company to put together a unique set of yield-enhancing products called Escalate® yield enhancement system. Escalate comes standard on all Beck’s corn, soybean, wheat and alfalfa products.
Beck’s dedication and passion for agriculture extends far beyond Beck’s Hybrids. He has played an integral role in leading several agricultural organizations, providing each with a unique leadership approach, ultimately guiding them to newer heights.