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David Witherspoon
Editor's Note: David Witherspoon became president of Garst Seed Company in 2000. Witherspoon first began his career with Garst in July 1989 as a corn breeder/research station manager. He was promoted to field business manager in June of 1994 and managed Garst's sales force in the South. In 1996 he became field business manager for Iowa; in August 1997 he was promoted to director of marketing; and in September 1999 he was promoted to vice president of Garst Seed Company. Witherspoon graduated from The Citadel with a B.S. in biology, from Clemson University with a M.S. in agronomy and from North Carolina State University with a Ph.D. in crop science (plant breeding).

AM: Garst recently announced a new tagline. What initiated this change in image?

DW: Our new tagline does not represent an image change for Garst Seed Company, but emphasizes our focus. The commitment, performance and technology tagline really describes what Garst is all about.

Commitment - the dedication of Garst employees and ProSellers to our customers, to U.S. agriculture and to the seed industry.

Performance - solid, dependable product performance through our proprietary breeding programs along with the dedicated performance of our employees in serving our customers.

Technology - providing our customers with the most up-to-date seed technologies without yield or in-field performance penalties.

AM: Garst has experienced considerable success recently. What are some of the factors attributed to this success?

There are several factors that have lead to Garst's consistent sales growth since 1995. The focus of our people at Garst, including our dealers, is on serving our customers' needs. These services include product recommendations, agronomic support, technology information, distribution, and customer service though our four service centers.

The other factor is consistent product performance. Many companies have sacrificed agronomics while attempting to improve yield. Our breeders are focused on both yield and agronomics. As farmers cover more acres, they cannot afford for their corn to fall down. Our breeders have also combined the latest trait technologies with our leading hybrids without yield loss.

AM: How is Garst Seed Company building and maintaining good relationships with its customers?

Customer relationships are the lifeblood of sales. Professional sales teams of district sales managers, agronomists and seed dealers work very hard to build and grow these relationships. We work very hard to train our sales teams on new products, technologies and agronomic issues. Garst must continue to be the "voice in field" that farmers have confidence in and can trust. Our company also offers programs that assist farmers with their many needs: Garst Gold Plan (finance plan), bulk corn and soybeans, just to name a few.

I believe the consistent growth in our corn, soybean, alfalfa and sorghum sales since 1995 is proof of a company that knows how to build long-term relationships with growers and customers - providing them with the seed products, agronomic information and financing tools they need to be successful.

AM: What new things are you doing in the areas of marketing and communications?

One very successful marketing program is the Garst Gold Plan, which offers growers zero interest and no payments until Nov. 15, 2003. We have stepped up our promotion of this program because it offers farmers cash management flexibility. As far as communication, we are in the process of redesigning our Web site, and we continue to utilize radio and print for our national advertising campaigns.

Overall, we continue to focus on building Garst brand awareness through print, radio, direct mail, public relations and key farm shows and events. Our advertising messages are designed to support and define our tagline: Commitment ... Performance ... Technology. AM

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