A few months ago I had a chance to sit down with Leah Olson, president of AMC, the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, which is the industry association that represents most Canadian short-line ag manufacturers.
One of the topics we discussed was how the generation of innovators behind many of those companies—more than a few of whom began their firms in a farm workshop—are now facing the prospect of handing over their enterprises to sons and daughters to carry on, or selling them to others. That’s a situation a lot of farmers are now or will soon have to address too.
The affect of generational changeover has been playing out very publicly at Saskatchewan-based Seed Hawk over the last few years.
In 2006, management at Seed Hawk began a partnership with Sweden-based Vaderstad, selling them a part interest in the firm. In 2013 Vaderstad bought the company outright. Senior members of the Seed Hawk management team, including the former principles, agreed to stay on for a limited time in a support role to help with the transition.
Since then there have been major changes in the management and corporate structure of the firm.
The Stark Family who own Vaderstad initially decided to keep Seed Hawk a separate corporate entity with its own management team, and so far they’ve stuck to that plan. But conversations I’ve had with the new managers have made it clear the company is integrating many aspects of production wherever it makes sense to, which isn’t surprising. An announcement this week revealed the integration now extends to the brand name. Seed Hawk officially changed its name to Vaderstad, effective this week.
That’s probably not a surprise either; Seed Hawk drills have been rolling out of the Langbank plant with that name as well as the Vaderstad emblem on them for a while now. And the color of the equipment was also changed to match Vaderstad’s other products.
The response to that name change on social media has been mixed. I’ve seen a few people expressing displeasure about it. But is that fair? After all, changes of ownership in the farm equipment industry are hardly anything new. Rather, it seems to be the natural way of things, and it probably always will be.
The reality is the company has poured a lot of money in the Langbank, Saskatchewan, production plant that has been building Seed Hawk drills since the early days of the brand. It wouldn’t seem to make much sense to abandon that facility now, so production will likely remain exactly where it is for the foreseeable future. That means it will continue to have a very strong Canadian component.
And although the company is no longer a wholly Canadian entity, the technology it helped introduce to the market is now being shared globally as part of an international brand. That’s something I think Canadians can be proud of.
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