Paul Bennett of Knoll Crest Farm at Red House, VA, sees four components to being a full service genetic provider.
First, he says seedstock producers must supply the right genetics in a cost-effective manner.
To do this, Bennett credits the use of EPDs and highly proven bulls as giving "lead time" to develop genetically superior cattle and minimize back-tracking.
Second, third and fourth, he says, seedstock producers must provide service, service, service to their customers.
His reason: "We breed our cows to many of the same bulls that other people do. Therefore, as a seedstock producer we must be creative in the 'add-ons' we provide."
For Bennett, those "add-ons" mean customer service.
"At Knoll Crest, we try to be most focused on the commercial industry. The kind of genetics we want to supply must give what they need, not what we have," says Bennett.
"We can't be everything to everyone and seedstock producers tend to want to do this," Bennett says.
With the aim of fulfilling customers' needs, Knoll Crest offers multiple breeds. "We have Angus, Gelbvieh, Polled Herefords, Red Angus and combinations of all of them," says Bennett. "Each play an important part in commercial producers' crossbreeding programs."
Within each breed, specifications are made to provide bulls with differences, according to Bennett. "Some producers want a +20 EPD on milk, others want less than 15," he says. "We want to provide them with choices," he adds.
Another service Knoll Crest provides is in-depth information about their cattle. "We ultrasound all our cattle, and believe every bit of this data is important to our customers," says Bennett. The data Knoll Crest provides builds enough confidence among customers that 50-60% of Knoll Crest bulls are sold sight unseen.
Knoll Crest service also comes in the form of a guarantee. "We offer a one-year absolute insurance policy on any bull we sell. That covers accidents, lightning, you name it," Bennett says.
Presently, marketing alliances are being developed with customers. "We are working to facilitate retained ownership with bull customers, so they can take full advantage of the genetics we offer," says Bennett.
"We'd like to be a part of helping our customers set and achieve goals," Bennett says.
"Tradition is the greatest handicap to production agriculture," he adds. "We as seedstockers must train ourselves to think out of the box. We do not want to be bound by tradition, instead we need a paradigm expansion."