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Jacklins Sell Seed Company To Simplot Sale Ends More Than Half-Century Of Family Ownership

Rooted in North Idaho by time and family, Jacklin Seed Co.’s owners announced Thursday the sale of their company to Boise-based J.R. Simplot Co.

The sale will end more than a half-century of Jacklin family ownership when the grassgrowing and processing business is turned over to the region’s top agricultural company.

Pending federal regulatory approval, Jacklin Seed plans to transfer ownership to Simplot on Oct. 8.

Though both companies are privately owned and did not release terms of the sale, seed company co-owner Doyle Jacklin did say of the cash deal, “It was a fair market price and everybody’s happy.”

The alliance is not sudden. Simplot has grown turf grass seed for Jacklin Seed on farms in southern Idaho and Eastern Washington for two years. The companies recently established a joint marketing agreement for grass seed and fertilizers in China. “We like each other and we work well with each other,” Doyle Jacklin said.

Steve Beebe, Simplot’s president, said acquiring Jacklin Seed is good strategy for the agribusiness company. “We see a direct link with our existing domestic operations and our international businesses in Australia, China and Japan,” he said.

Doyle Jacklin stood on a hillside overlooking the company’s manicured property in Post Falls as he announced the sale Thursday afternoon. He will continue as president of the Jacklin Seed portion of the business. leave Jacklin Seed to run the family’s hospitality business and real estate development.

“I’m personally sad about losing my brothers as business partners,” Doyle Jacklin said. “But I’m really happy and excited about the opportunities for the company.”

Jacklin Seed Co. recently donated 28 acres of the Riverbend Commerce Park to the University of Idaho for a research campus.

UI officials were pleased to hear of the seed company’s sale. “I’m very excited about this from the standpoint of the UI and the UI Foundation,” said James Hawkins, former Idaho commerce department director, now a business consultant with the university.

Though the name may change to Simplot-Jacklin, local operations for the grass seed company will continue as they are now, Jacklin said.

And the family will keep ownership of the processing plants and land in Post Falls and Nezperce, Idaho, and Albany, Ore. The amount of acreage was not disclosed.

Jacklin expects the deal will bring more jobs and expand the seed company’s reach both regionally and internationally. “We will be adding people, undoubtedly,” he said, citing the marketing, research and management areas. “This means definitely more jobs. It’s not a downsizing at all.

“And this will further our opportunity to contract more acres with (Simplot) in the Columbia Basin, Oregon and Idaho,” he said. It will also smooth the way for the grass seed to be produced and sold in Australia and New Zealand, where Simplot owns land.

Jacklin Seed Co. was founded in 1935 by Ben Jacklin and his three sons Lyle, Owen and Arden. In the 1940s the business began experimenting with grass seed production and now has patents on a number of grass seed varieties.

This sale is similar to a deal in 1972 when Jacklin Seed Co. merged with publicly-held Vaughan Seed Co. Then, as now, the family kept the land and physical assets. Ben Jacklin’s three grandsons, Doyle, Duane and Don, bought back the business in 1983.

Jacklin Seed now has 120 full-time employees and contracts with about 470 growers and farmers, including Simplot. Last year company revenues were $40 million.

Simplot, with annual sales of $2.8 billion, has more than 12,000 employees in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Mexico and China. Its principal businesses are food processing, agriculture, and the manufacture of agricultural fertilizer.

, DataTimes

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