Holding company acquires seed supplier


Legacy Seeds produces crops like alfalfa, corn, wheat and soybeans. Photo via Facebook.com

A holding company in the region has acquired a Wisconsin seed supplier.

Greenville-based Tillerman Seeds LLC liquidated the holdings of Legacy Seeds Inc. by buying the assets and real estate of the company that is based in Scandinavia, Wisconsin.

Legacy Seeds, which produces crops like alfalfa, corn, wheat, and soybeans, will be able to buy out the ownership stake of retired founder Steve Jensen and minority partner Tyler Lee.

The transaction also allows for Legacy Seeds to keep its heritage, operations and all of its employees in Wisconsin and Nampa, Idaho, where they also conduct business.

The CEO of Legacy Seeds, Bruce Ceranske, will remain in his position as the owner and executive leader. Lee will continue to manage the company’s operations in Nampa.

Horizon Bank provided senior debt financing and a revolving credit facility to Tillerman Seeds. Open Prairie Ventures, a private equity fund in Effingham, Illinois, provided subordinated debt financing, and Grand Rapids-based Barnes & Thornburg provided legal counsel to Tillerman Seeds on the transaction.

Grand Rapids-based Tillerman & Co. provided structure, negotiation and capital formation for the deal.

The Legacy acquisition comes on the heels of Tillerman’s first acquisition of Dansville’s DF Seeds LLC, the top producer of soybean and wheat seeds for Midwestern microclimates, in October 2017.

“This transaction will bring new opportunities for the customers, employees and suppliers of both Legacy Seeds and DF Seeds,” said James Sheppard, Tillerman Seeds CEO. “These are two strong companies with complementary product lines, similar cultures and a shared laser-like focus on developing seeds that allow farmers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other Midwestern states to maximize yields.”

The acquisitions boost Tillerman to nearly $40 million in annual revenue with 42 employees. The company supplies more than 800 farms in Michigan, Wisconsin and Idaho.

“Bringing them together under the Tillerman Seeds umbrella will allow each company to cross-sell products — including their popular conventional non-GMO seed lines — and work together on research, innovation and customer relationships,” Sheppard said.

Tillerman Seeds hopes to operate both DF Seeds and Legacy Seeds as standalone entities with shared back-office services, including accounting, human resources, collaborative research and development, consumer services, marketing, and cross-selling of product lines to serve farmers.

Tillerman Seeds LLC was created last year to acquire regional producers of specialty, GMO and non-GMO seeds.

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