Genesis Seed Solutions, based in Berthold, ND, is a seed production company with state-of-the-art facilities and prides itself on efficient and effective agronomic practices. Founder Nathan Fegley grew up on the family’s farm, with his father owning part of Fegley Grain. So, you can certainly say that this lifestyle is in his blood.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do after college, but I knew I wanted a steady income and to stay around the farm. I even started a cow-calf operation at one point,” says Fegley. With previous experience growing seed with Fegley Grain, he was familiar with seed production process and wanted to grow the business. Genesis Seed was born to produce superior seed and then process and sell the seed after production. They have two locations that handle screening, color sorting, debearding, grading, and even on-site packaging to ensure the quality and output of an excellent product.
Genesis Seed is a private company invested in finding successful varieties of seed, which can be a lengthy process of crossbreeding, selection, and testing. Working globally, they have found varieties of seed that do not perform well in other climates, but they do very well in ND. For example, wheat and dry pea varieties that have less success in Europe can thrive in North Dakota. “We are highly selective on the varieties we choose to move forward with, and it takes time to discover and grow a consistent crop and reliable seed for use,” explains Fegley.
As the seed business started to take off, the business grew from Fegly Grain Cleaning, moving forward to merge with United Agronomy. This merger led to the formation of Genesis Seed in 2018. Fegley explains, “the partnership with United Agronomy brought a lot to the table for Genesis Seed; with more professionalism and services, we were able to grow into the business that I had always wanted.” The merger brought more opportunities to grow Genesis Seed, allowing Fegley more time to explore new markets.
“We’ve gone down a lot of rabbit trails, but we like to explore so many ideas in this business. Exploring has served us well to find opportunities the ‘other guys’ aren’t even considering,” says Fegley. Exporting is one of those trails. Genesis Seed started working with a grain merchandiser to focus on exports year-round. This has helped open up opportunities across the globe for their products. Having someone focused on exports has helped with consistency, keeping exports top of mind, and exploring untapped regions. “We can take a product like dry peas, where the market is rather mature around North Dakota, and find opportunities in developing markets like India or the Middle East in need of these products,” he explains.
In 2019, Genesis Seed expanded its facilities, which led them to new opportunities. Fegley explains that “we knew if we built a bigger facility, more business would come. And it did!” With the two facilities, they have greater flexibility and overall capacity. The increasing need for gluten-free products has worked in Genesis Seeds’ favor, as their facilities are well-suited to accommodate separation to ensure quality. Their facilities are also advantageous for exporting. Large shipping containers are often needed for export and grain elevators are not set up to load containers, but Genesis Seed is. They are even well-positioned with the intermodal port just 25 miles away in Minot, ND. Although there are major challenges worldwide with shipping and logistics, utilizing a port close to home is an advantage.
Fegley was reluctant to offer advice for exporting as a relatively new exporter, but, as a business owner, he recommends spending 20% of your time figuring out what doesn’t work. Exploring “rabbit trails,” as he calls them, can help find the niche and uniqueness for each company. Also, finding trusted mentors and people you can bounce ideas off has been highly beneficial.
Fegely’s goal with Genesis Seed is to “capture the margins from seed to seed production, through to the end-user, and we keep ourselves very busy. If we can do that, it would be really great,” he says. But even more, Genesis Seed is steadily increasing its impact and global footprint from Berthold, ND. A continuing eagerness to explore new ideas, markets, and applications will keep Genesis Seed at the forefront of the industry for many years to come.