How it All Began
C & M SEEDS began operations in 1978 when the Cameron and McLaughlin families (hence C & M) decided to embark upon a venture into the seed industry. The Camerons were winding down a beef operation and the McLaughlins were in the process of discontinuing a turnip waxing business. Both families had been producing pedigreed seed, so it seemed the natural
progression to extend this production to the end-use market. The high capacity, modern seed processing facility which exists today is a far cry from the very modest cleaning operation which the company started with in 1978. Initially, processing was limited to public varieties of cereals and soybeans suitable for production in mid-western Ontario.
Originally, the main customers were local farmers and Co-ops in this mid- western Ontario region. Today, the company has approximately 250 respected dealers all across Ontario and this number is growing annually. Retail trade is still restricted to the local farmers of the area. After being introduced to Jock Peill of Canning, Nova Scotia in the early 1980s, C&M became involved in testing hard red winter wheat lines. This was actually the first major research effort directed towards red wheat in Ontario since the turn of the century. Red wheat research and variety development remains a major thrust of C&M’s priorities.
Integrity and Excellence, Our pledge to you!
The growth and acceptance of the ‘re-introduction’ of red wheat production in Ontario (at the turn of the century, there were over one million acres of red wheat produced in Ontario) has presented many challenges. Early varieties of hard red wheat were dependent on the extensive use of Intensive Cereal Management, requiring the use of fungicides, growth regulators and up to three nitrogen applications. Today, red wheat varieties are managed similarly to white wheat varieties, with the exception of hard red wheats requiring higher nitrogen applications to enhance protein. This tremendous cultivar improvement has been made possible by the abolishment of the ‘Kernel Visual Distinguishability’ requirement for registration of red wheats in eastern Canada. This has allowed the registration of more hard red winters, hard red springs and just recently, soft red winter wheats. C&M Seeds played a major role in engineering this change. The Ontario Wheat Producers Marketing Board has shown leadership in providing pooling options, so that producers and end-users can choose the area in which they wish to participate. C&M is extremely proud of their contribution to the establishment of this economically viable segment of Ontario agriculture.
Recognizing that more than one commodity was necessary for ongoing success, the company diversified their efforts to include all major cereal crops and more recently, soybeans have been added to the research priority list. To date, genetics are sourced from both public and private North American and European breeding institutions. Close working relationships with these institutions continue to provide a vast array of testing lines. C&M now markets exclusive and public varieties of hard and soft red winter wheat, spring wheat, barley, oats and soybeans in Ontario. The company was also one of the very first to export early maturing soybeans to Europe. C&M Seeds is dedicated to finding ‘end-use markets’ for their ever increasing list of varieties, so that all members of the industry, from producers through end-users, can enjoy the benefit of this type of system. Presently, there are ongoing co-operative ventures established for many different crops. C&M’s motto “Superior Varieties for Profitability” means “profitability” for everyone involved. C&M Seeds is a highly respected member of the Canadian Seed Trade Association as well as the Inernational Seed Federation with company representation on the board of directors of the ISF. The research community of eastern Canada also recognizes C&M as a major contributor to the overall research effort.
While this young company has quickly expanded in scope and market- share, the principal family members still maintain close contact with all aspects of the daily business operations. The next generation of family is already becoming involved in the business, thus ensuring continuity for the future. Recently senior partners Mr. Norris McLaughlin and Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Cameron have retired from C&M Seeds. The company is now solely owned and operated by the McLaughlin Family. Maintaining this relatively small and close knit group of partners and dedicated employees has allowed C&M to quickly respond to new opportunities which present themselves and flourish in a marketplace of narrow margins and sharp competition. As we move towards the 21st century, C&M feels that tremendous potential exists for aggressive seed companies. Expanding opportunities brought about by GATT, NAFTA and the ever increasing demand from former Third World economies, particularly in the Pacific Rim, make this entry into the 21st Century a truly exciting time. It is safe to say that efficient and innovative companies like C&M Seeds will continue to find expanded success in the Canadian and international seed industry.
What’s Happening today?
Presently C&M Seeds focuses on variety development and marketing in both cereals and soybeans. The company conducts approximately 7000 research plots at several locations in Ontario, and co-operates with many other research stations and seed companies in Eastern Canada. To date, C&M Seeds has been the largest seller of red wheat genetics in Eastern Canada, and also has been an aggressive marketer of soybeans, barley, oats, and mixed grains. C&M Seeds have been leaders in the area of contracting wheat production, and we have an excellent relationship with the end-users located in the province.
C&M Seeds distributes through over 250 retail outlets across Ontario, covering the entire province with both regional and broadly adapted varieties. C&M Seeds is physically located in the heart of the cereal production area. C&M Seeds has excellent working relationships with the grain handling trade and is of shared ownership with one of the largest in-land receiving points for wheat in the province. This connection with the down handling side of the trade is of great advantage in promoting new varieties and being able to offer producers a secure market for their product.
Advertising and promotion is all professionally produced, and coordinated by C&M Seeds. Our “push” strategy through the dealer network includes a comprehensive dealer manual with production information and official trial results, continuous fax updates on new products and opportunities, personal visits, dealer appreciation and information days, etc. Our “pull” strategy to producers includes advertising in the major farm press across the province, inserts to the farm press, ag radio advertising, an extensive direct mailing database, trade shows, and point of purchase advertising. Through all of these means we feel that we can maximize the distribution potential of our genetics.
C&M Seeds has developed its reputation in the marketplace by following a rigid set of quality control standards and a self-imposed level of integrity second to none. It is our pledge to the industry that we will continue this tradition in the future.