Bill Wyffels Jr., president of Wyffels Hybrids, based in Geneseo, Ill., welcomes guests to the 10th anniversary of the Wyffels Corn Strategies conference. The conference this year was at Wild Rose Farms LLC in rural Knoxville, Ill. Wyffels said in spite of a shift over to soybean acres this growing season, the company has had an “excellent” business year. Wyffels and his brother Bob Wyffels, vice president of production, serve as senior management of the company started by their parents, William Wyffels Sr. and Alma (Francque) Wyffels.
Bill Wyffels Jr., president of Wyffels Hybrids, based in Geneseo, Ill., welcomes guests to the 10th anniversary of the Wyffels Corn Strategies conference. The conference this year was at Wild Rose Farms LLC in rural Knoxville, Ill. Wyffels said in spite of a shift over to soybean acres this growing season, the company has had an “excellent” business year. Wyffels and his brother Bob Wyffels, vice president of production, serve as senior management of the company started by their parents, William Wyffels Sr. and Alma (Francque) Wyffels.
KNOXVILLE, Ill. — Has Wyffels Hybrids had its best year yet?

Bill Wyffels Jr., company president and son of the seed corn company’s founders, said the past year has been successful, but with the next generation of Wyffels arriving, he hopes the best is yet to come.

“We’re excited to have another generation in the business, and the baton is getting warmed up,” he said.

Wyffels spoke at the 10th annual Corn Strategies conference. Each year, the company hosts the midsummer event to bring some of the most current information on global economics, agricultural outlooks and national and world politics to their customers.

“It’s our effort to bring value to the producer in the way of knowledge and strategic thinking that is free,” Wyffels said.

This year, the event was held at Wild Rose Farms LLC, the family farm of the Humphreys and Ramp families in rural Knoxville.

“The idea is to move it around from time to time and expose our organization a little bit more to people who don’t know anything about us. We try to move it within 100 miles of where we’ve never been before on the map, alternating with the location of the Farm Progress Show,” Wyffels said.

Networking Opportunity

Wyffels said the idea behind Corn Strategies is to bring that knowledge at a time when producers can use it before harvest and to provide farmers an opportunity not only to get the latest information on economics and ag outlooks, but to network.

“I think producers, in many instances, learn from producers. We’ve got a lot of folks here. It’s that time of year when they’ve wrapped up the spring rush, and they have a moment or two to reflect and relax and maybe think a little bit about some different things,” he said.

Wyffels said that despite a shift to soybean acres this year, the company has had a great year.

“Acres shift in the U.S. frequently. Our business has been only corn for the last 25 to 30 years, so those shifts in Iowa and Illinois are more gradual and corn and soy acres. It hasn’t impacted us as much as we expected. There are areas where continuous corn has been real heavy for some years, and people have cut back due to insect pressure and have gone into more of a rotation. It certainly didn’t impact our business growth this year,” he said.

Wyffels introduced the next generation, the third generation, to enter the family business.

“I am so happy to say now that we have three of the third generation who have joined the company,” he said.

Wyffels introduced his youngest son, Blake Wyffels, who works in market research, and his oldest son, John, who joined the company in March and heads up the finance administration section. Bob Wyffels’ son, Jacob, joined the company two years ago and works in supply management.

“If you look around here, there’s a lot of youth, and that’s important in a business, to bring that energy and that dynamic thinking outside the box technology because that’s what’s going to be a bigger part of agriculture in the years ahead. We are excited about the future and the opportunity of our business,” Wyffels said.

Started With Oats

He reminisced about the business that famously started as an effort not to build a better corn seed, but to breed a better oat.

“Oats was the thing that got us going. It was an innovative father who worked with a county Extension agent who kept bringing new and novel ideas to our farm. Dad was the guy always willing to try something new. Bob and I grew up around that, and we’ve seen that over the years. From that kitchen table, which was the office and also the place where everybody met, we’ve grown up from there,” he said.

He also commented on the long working relationship between himself and his brother, Bob.

“We’ve kind of grown up around this business and worked with each other since — well, forever. For two brothers to get along for this long and have the respect and the ability to think through and do things has been a marvelous thing,” Bill Wyffels Jr. said.

Wyffels emphasized the impact of independence and how being able to stay an independent and family-operated business has been an asset for the company and its customers.

“We believe much in the idea of independence and being privately owned. The ability that gives us as owners to make business decisions that aren’t governed by 5,000 people who are stockholders, to do something that isn’t always based on a quarterly earnings report as opposed to what’s important for the people we want to serve and the ones we love to serve,” he said.

The personal touch and the family connection has resulted in good business.

“We had a great year last year. It was probably our third- or fourth-largest increase in the company’s sales, but we also grew our customer base by nearly 7 percent plus our customer retention is probably the highest in the company’s history. We have probably 55 district managers, and 44 of those increased their sales this past year,” Wyffels said.