Smith Seed Services began processing grass seed back in the mid-50's and has gone on to become an industry leader with a solid reputation for superior quality and service. Our record of successful growth, low employee turnover, financial stability, and a history of high-quality seed delivered on time is a testimonial to the success of those standards.
Our long-term relationship with a wide variety of growers and other seed providers, as well as on-site cleaning lines, custom packaging, and multiple shipping and warehousing options ensures the seed you need will be there, where and when you need it!
If you are in the wholesales distribution of grass seed, and wish to learn more about how Smith Seed Services can benefit your business, please contact us now. We look forward to hearing from you.
by founder George Smith
In the mid 1950?s, the farm economy necessitated diversification if one was to survive financially. Many of the farmers fattened lambs on their grass fields. There came a time when we needed to decide whether to put in a seed cleaner of our own or do something else to diversify.
We had a large dairy barn which had been used for milking cows but was no longer in use. Around 1956 the decision was made to convert the old dairy barn into a seed cleaning plant. The barn was large enough to make separate bins for storage of uncleaned bulk seed. Our original plans were to only clean our own seed. But a number of the neighbors wanted us to clean their seed. This required more bin space so in 1958 we built a block of cribbed bins. The unloading was done by suction with an airlift which allowed various kinds of seed to be unloaded without contamination or mixing of seeds.
I put cleaners and carters in the barn as my first cleaning set up, but as time went on our cleaners did not perform well enough so we put in 2 new cleaners which was very satisfactory.
We had enough room for a time, but soon found the demand for cleaning greater than the space we had available. Thomas Herndon was working for us at the time. He offered to help build some large bins that could be used for those wanting to bring seed for cleaning. A few years of this plan worked fine but then we were overcrowded again which meant further expansion.
I needed an office which we built close to the barn. In three years we had outgrown that office and needed to build a larger one. The original office now sits back of Melvin?s house. The second office is now under the roof of Jason?s house. Ten years later it was again necessary to expand the office size, so a larger office was built which is part of the present office building.
There was a change in the way grass seed was handled around the time I put in a cleaning line. Prior to this most growers took their seed to commercial cleaning plants. They also sold their seed to the company that cleaned it. Many growers felt that the seed companies were taking advantage of them. The dealers did not pay the same price to everyone. It seemed that there was a lot of inconsistencies in pricing.
Because of these situations many growers put in their own cleaners or took their seed to a neighbor who had a cleaner. But now there was a problem as to who they would sell to. I noticed this especially with the growers in my own warehouse. To accommodate them I made an agreement to buy for Northrup King & Co. This did not last long as at times they were out of the market so we had no place to sell our seed. So that we could always have a price for our growers, I went to other dealers. They began to buy from me, so we were able to have a permanent, steady market.
Soon there were other growers that also needed a place to market their seed. The first seed I bought outside of my own warehouse was from Joe Miller. Then we needed to load the seed upon a rail car. The first car I loaded was 600/100 lb. bags. This came from Joe Miller. I was paid $0.10 per bag. Sixty dollars was pretty good wages for three hours for a hired man and myself.
When we started loading cars we needed trucks. We bought two trucks, and beefed them up for larger loads. Then we had to have men to load the cars.
We operated as a farm operation, but one day a state official came in saying that we had to go commercial. That changed everything ? different licenses, paying social security and unemployment on the wages. It also changed our insurance on everything.
I bought the old Southern Pacific depot building from the railroad for $25.00. It was located across the street from the post office. We moved it to its present location. It needed to be cut in two to move. Because of a city ordinance we could not move that large of object down the street. We moved it one morning between the time that the night watchman went off duty and daylight. It cost $1,800.00 to move. It turned out to be quite a job, but has been in constant use ever since.
Some new man came in as cleaner men. Soon we needed some of these as office men.
We needed another building so Tom Herndon built it. This building was used for blending such as English Ryegrass and various mixtures for some of the dealers.
We had need for bags for our own use but discovered that other warehouses needed someone to stock bags for their use as well. We searched around and found a bag company that would work with us. Farmers would come and buy bags, paying for them when they sold their seed.
Many dealers and some farmers thought ryegrass was a good commodity to speculate on. But it seemed like the price would go down most every time leaving me to pay the groceries. It seemed that the young men who came on later did not speculate as badly.
Because of speculation, we lost lots of money causing us some hard financial times. During this time we were able to maintain a large cash flow which allowed us to continue to pay growers. As I look back I think God had something to do with keeping the flow going so I could build up again.
Times have changed forcing us to get trucks with dual axles. In time other changes forced us to get semi-trucks to haul 40 ft. containers. We used the ford trucks to load cars and do local hauling.
There were also other changes. Farmers got more and larger combines and larger trucks to haul the seed to the warehouse at harvest time. We needed to install larger unloading equipment plus raise the roofs higher to take care of the longer truck beds.
Dealing with larger numbers of growers came mainly by word of mouth. When a grower was satisfied with his dealings it seemed as if he told his friends. This was especially true of the Mennonite farmers. Over the years I dealt with many of them. Also I began to deal with the Catholics west of the rivers. They in turn told their Catholic friends which resulted in dealing with farmers as far away as Forest Grove. We bought seed from farmers from the north end to the south end of the valley. The growers have been very nice to the workers. They have brought many boxes of candies and good eatables.
Toward the end of my business days it was evident that there was need for a custom storage facility. Because I was getting ready to retire I allowed four young men to put up several storage buildings down at the corner. Now they are putting up two more buildings as there is more demand.
When I retired we gave our house to Jason as he needed it and we had a small two bedroom house built south of it close to the fir tree.