He may be the youngest RSC owner, but Decker Sutton is an old hand at building relationships with his customers.
What was your route to owning AgVenture of Western Missouri?
DECKER SUTTON: I grew up around agronomy and seed sales. From a really young age, I’d go to work with my dad, who was in the seed business. We’d make farm calls, walk the fields and talk with his customers. He taught me a lot at an early age. By the time I entered Kansas State University, I already had practical field knowledge. I graduated from KSU in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with an emphasis on plant science and biotechnology, so I gained an understanding of the genetics and breeding side of things as well.
I own WMO with my grandmother Betty and my older sister Rebecca. So we are truly a family business, but I’m the primary face of the company. I take care of all the operations, relationship building and day-to-day details. We started the company in 2013. I was actually still in high school at the time. Even as a kid, I wanted to be in the seed business. Now I’m living it.
What value do you bring to your customers?
DECKER SUTTON: Walking fields in this area since I was a kid has allowed me to know a multitude of different environments. We have tough hills, high-producing river bottoms, irrigated and non-irrigated acres. Last year we were in a stage-5 drought and this year we’ve had 10 years of rain. I understand what farmers deal with year after year and help them get the most out of their crops no matter what’s happening around them. With my background in plant science and biotechnology, I know how different products will perform in every possible situation based on the genetics and traits. I help my customers boost yield through a process of assessing performance data, studying management practices and recommending products based on specific local environmental conditions. It really comes down to putting AgVenture’s Maximum Profit System™ into practice.
What makes AgVenture of Western Missouri unique?
DECKER SUTTON: First, our products. I would put my lineup against anybody’s without batting an eye. I know it’ll perform. But we don’t sell just seed. We provide expertise. We build relationships based on us knowing each farmer’s field, practices and goals. Because I have a connection with my customers, I know what they expect and they know what I expect. I guess you could say we serve as a true partner. We work with them on lots of things, from product placement to nutrient management and from equipment decisions to marketing. We’re here to help them be more successful because it’s the right thing to do. Our customers have high expectations and high standards. I’m here to support them whether I’m walking their fields or just stopping by to check in and see how things are going.
In my mind, there’s a lot of profit being left on the table at the end of the year. To keep that from happening, we work with our customers throughout the year to help them be as profitable and successful as possible because that’s how you build a long-term business. I also offer soil sampling. In the winter, I spend a lot of time pulling samples. Based on the analysis we make valid, spot-on nutrient recommendations for each field.
What does the future hold for you?
DECKER SUTTON: My hopes and goals are pretty simple, really. I want to continue growing and building relationships with more farmers. I want AgVenture WMO to be successful 40 years down the road so I can pass it on to my children. That’s important to me.
As an RSC, you’re an independent business owner, not just a dealer. Is that independence important to you?
DECKER SUTTON: Yes, it is. Because I’m totally independent—I own this business—I can do what’s best or what’s right, not just what I’m told to do by a corporation somewhere. I make the decisions based on what my customers want and need. This allows a lot more flexibility to do what’s needed to make the greatest impact.