Kray Seed LLC allows Kray to carry on family tradition

Parker Kray has been working for Beck's Hybrids under his own business, Kray Seed LLC, since 2020. He not only covers Jones County, but several neighboring counties as well. He prides himself on customer service. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

In the fall of 2021, Kray hosted his first plot night at his farm in Center Junction. This gives new and prospective customers the chance to see what Beck's Hybrids produces, (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Farming runs in the family. Tractors, restoring tractors, runs in the family. Selling seed also now runs in the family.

   Parker Kray, a Monticello High School 2015 graduate, enjoys staying busy. Working three full-time jobs is nothing for him.

   Now, living in Wyoming with his wife, Ashley, Kray sells seed for Beck's Hybrid under his own company, Kray Seed LLC.

   He started selling in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

   "I'm in my third year of selling," he said. "I needed a job to supplement the farm."

   Also, in 2020, Kray bought into his family's farm in Center Junction. It's been in his family since 1893, on his mother's side.

   "I farm with my uncle."

   It was also that year that Kray graduated from Upper Iowa University, majoring in agricultural business, with two minors in agricultural sales and lending.

   "It's a good fit," Kray said of selling seed.

   Beck's Hybrids is based out of Indiana, but has only been in Iowa since 2010.

   Kray shared that there "are a ton of reasons" why he enjoys working for Beck's.

   While browsing Facebook one day, Kray said an ad for Beck's popped up noting that they were looking for a seed salesperson in the Jones County area.

   "I thought it might be kind of neat to start something fresh; a challenge," he said of inquiring about the job.

   Aside from farming, Kray also works full-time at Scherrman's Implement in Monticello as the parts manager.

   "I've been working since I was old enough to (work)," he said.

   So Kray applied for the job with Beck's and was contacted immediately. Beck's flew Kray to one of their PFR (Practical Farm Research) locations in Colfax, Iowa. They were hosting a "farmer day" for perspective customers to come and check out their seed products and trials.

   Beck's specializes in corn, soybeans, cover crops, alfalfa, wheat, among others. They also have some new hybrid corn and soybean products in the Jones County area.

   "What stood out for me," recalled Kray, "was having the president come and shake my hand. He and his son were shaking hands with everybody."

   Once Kray was on board, he created his own LLC and started to find a place to base his shop out of, downtown Wyoming.

   "My friend owns the lot; it used to be a lumber yard," he said of the opportunity to house his product.

   During Kray's first year with Beck's he took delivery of his seed at his farm.

   "There's not a lot of room there," he said.

   So renting the space in Wyoming, not far from the couple's home, serves him well.

   He doesn't just serve customers in Jones County, but neighboring counties as well: Cedar, Linn, Delaware, and Dubuque.

   Kray's seed advisor, his boss, is Matt Gerlach out of Maquoketa.

   Kray said Beck's is the largest family-owned seed business that prides itself on serving small-town people.

   "It built as a family; they're faith oriented, something you don't see very often with large companies."

   Pointing to the company's faith, Kray said they post a daily prayer on their Facebook page.

   "It's the little things that stand out," he said.

   Kray's job isn't just about selling seed product and visiting his customers on their farms.

   "I go the extra mile," he said. "I drop in from time to time to see how they're doing, how their families are doing."

   Kray said he can relate to his customers because he also farms, works on his own equipment (and that of others'), and now he knows the ins and outs of the seed.

   "I run (my job) on service. I come to you; I work around your schedule."

   Kray said his customers are quite loyal and willing to also work around his busy schedule.

   "They trust me."

   Beck's is also known for their "plot nights." This is where customers come and see what Beck's seeds have actually produced mid-season. Kray, himself, hosted his very own plot night on the family farm in 2021.

   "I love it!" he boasted. It gives current customers, prospective customers, and anyone the chance to see our new products and products in testing. It brings people together, talking, hearing from others, and asking us questions."

   Kray said it comes down to quality versus quantity in this business.

   "Beck's has excellent products. I witness it with the plot nights I have hosted. It took our own family farm from average production to some of the highest yields in the area!"

   He wants to provide the best for his customers.

   "I can't thank them enough. They make my business what it is. Talking to my customers is the best part of the day. I just want them to be successful."

   Of course, Kray wouldn't be able to keep it all straight without the help of his wife, Ashley.

   "She helps me out a ton," he praised. "She'll run seed to a customer if I'm in the field."

   As it turns out, the seed business might come natural to Kray because his maternal grandfather was a seed salesman for Cargill.

   "He worked for them for a long time," recalled Kray of seeing his grandfather in action. "That was my driving force, too."

   In fact, there are signs on display in Kray's barn from his grandfather's time in business, a reminder of the hard work and family tradition.

   "It's cool that this is in my blood," he said fondly.




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