Albert Lea Seed Staff Writers
Albert Lea Seed is excited to announce that Brett Bell is taking over day-to-day operations as President and CEO. He will be leading Albert Lea Seed and our brands as we grow to meet the needs of organic and conventional farmers. After 20 years as President, Mac Ehrhardt will be taking on a new role as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Bell is passionate about the opportunities ahead, “Mac and the leadership of Albert Lea Seed have done a fantastic job over the past 20 plus years of establishing a leadership position in the fast-growing organic seed segment of the market. This coupled with their emphasis on serving the needs of regenerative farming positions us for continued growth.”
Bell, a self-described “Iowa farm kid,” comes to Albert Lea Seed with 27 years of experience in the agricultural business, including leadership roles in seed sales and agronomy. He most recently served as Executive Vice President at Anuvia Plant Nutrients and has also served in leadership roles at Landus Cooperative and Cargill.
“Brett brings years of experience and contacts throughout agriculture, and he is excited about working with industry partners to improve our product offerings for our customers and for grain aggregators and ingredient suppliers,” said Ehrhardt. “Brett said something in one of our conversations that has really stuck with me: ‘The most fun I’ve had in my career has been selling seed.’ That sentiment, combined with Brett’s experience, education, and energy gives me a lot of confidence for the future.”
“I am not going to disappear!” assures Ehrhardt. “I will be here to assist Brett and our talented and hardworking team as he takes the reins. My job is to help Brett and the leadership team grow our business while maintaining our core values and company culture. I will continue to work directly in some areas of the business and will be a strong voice on our new leadership team. And if the team lets me, I will continue to pick up the phone!”
Ehrhardt continued, “We will remain a family-owned business, but the board and I believe it is necessary to bring in experienced leadership to manage our company because we have grown so much in size and complexity. In the past year alone, we have grown by 25 percent and now have three brands, including Blue River organic seed, Viking non-GMO seed, and Albert Lea Seed.”
Optimization is the kind of change Albert Lea Seed believes will lead to new opportunities as our footprint expands. Securing resources and building new relationships will be necessary to ensure that our business is well prepared to offer real value to an expanding network of farmers. Our larger, more complex organization is well-positioned in a growth sector of agriculture, and the board believes Bell will help the company meet the new demands and opportunities ahead.
The Albert Lea Seed leadership team, including Elia Romano echoes this optimism, “I am excited to see how Brett can help us solve the many problems that come with scale. Our growth over the past decade has stretched many of our processes and business practices to the breaking point. I am excited for Brett to provide a fresh set of eyes and a willing set of hands as we dig in and find creative solutions that will positively impact our customers and employees.”
Our 100-year-old independent seed company remains dedicated to the values that are the cornerstone of our success, including one of founder Lou Ehrhardt’s favorite expressions, “A customer is not an interruption.”
A sentiment shared by the new President and CEO as Bell stated, “I’m excited to have the opportunity to help build on the strong foundation and proud tradition of Albert Lea Seed as we expand into the next phase of our growth. It’s a great responsibility and one I take very seriously. I am also excited to call Mac my boss and learn from him. Mac is a humble, steady leader who deeply cares about his employees and customers. That’s the kind of leader I want to work for and learn from.”
100 years in and Albert Lea Seed is still growing strong.