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View from the Cab: A seed legend

By Kent Casson

Dale Atkins started his career as a Pioneer sales representative in 1974 and is still going strong today.

I caught up with Atkins for a one-on-one conversation recently looking back on his 50 years as a seed salesman.

“I actually came back to the farm before that,” Atkins recalled.

The first company Atkins worked with as a dealer sold soybeans and Pioneer bought that company the following year. Right after college, Atkins had three years of training before returning to the farm. Since he had been in sales, the seed dealership was a perfect fit.

“The Pioneer dealership started with one township,” said Atkins. “Six square miles was the only sales area.”

It all started from a farm on the northwest corner of Weston where Atkins sold corn out of his garage and soybeans from a nearby shed.

“We had the farm there and I had a little office in the corner of the garage.”

When seed showed up, Atkins received help from a brother-in-law and some neighbors since everything was unloaded by hand. As sales increased, he was given more territory as the company came up with the idea of professional sales representatives. They saw the advantage of farm people making recommendations.

“The thing that I probably like the most about being a seed dealer is that it’s a true family community,” said Atkins. “They’re my customers and I hope I’m the source they appreciate.”

In 1998, Pioneer promoted having a separate business location with the professional sales rep. idea. This is when Atkins Seed Service was built in the corner of a field along U.S. Highway 24 and the Weston Blacktop in McLean County. Dale’s son, Dean, worked off of the farm at first before returning to the operation when soybean seed treatment was added.

“Since then, the size of the seed operation has grown a lot,” adds Atkins.

Atkins has observed changes with his client base throughout the years and with technology on the farm.

“When I started, hooking up the planter was a pretty simple operation with a hitch pin and a couple of hydraulic hoses and now, it takes a couple of hours to get all of the electric and hydraulic lines and monitors installed.”

Happy 50th anniversary with Pioneer, Dale and congratulations!


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