Date: 12/2022

After 47 years of service to the seed trade, DSV UK say Bon Voyage to Michael Mann as he heads stateside to North America in the new year to develop DSV USA. Before he goes however, we look back on his journey in the industry before he joined DSV UK.

'I started working for South Western farmers in Taunton in 1979, when my mother told me that I had been lazing around at home for too long after A levels and I needed to get a job. I applied for 2 – one full time at Taunton cement,  and one temporary (for the Autumn season only) in the seed dept at South Western Farmers.'

'Not wanting the job at all, I told the manager (Eric Keniston) that I was going to Uni at the end of September so wouldn’t be around too long, but he thought that was excellent as they only want help during August and September. (I was fairly confident that I hadn’t passed my A levels, having done little or no work for the last few months as I’d been full time evening bar working, but I didn’t think the pay (£45 a week plus overtime) was enough...)'

'So – he offered me the job, I turned it down, and he came back with an improved offer - £50 a week … and my mum told me to take the job … so I did!'

'In the end, I earned a lot more than that (overtime, Saturday’s/Sundays etc) and when my exam results came in I asked if I could stay… they kept me till the next Spring, and then finally I was taken on permanently the next summer’

'In 1983 the Dunns Seeds group came into existence, and I angled for a job in the new business, eventually getting a role wholesaling seed (bagged and treated) to UK merchants. This lasted till 1986 when the owners, an American insurance company, decided they had wasted too much money in the UK and shut it down.'

'I was then offered a job in Downham Market – at that time, pretty much the centre of the UK wholesale/brokerage industry. Nickersons wholesale was based here, and many companies formed from sales people leaving there to start their own businesses. One such was Paul Taylor, who had been MD of Nickerson and wanted his own empire… between 1986 and 1989 ‘Seed Innovations’ became the biggest wholesaler in the UK, eventually turning over some 60000 tonnes a year.'

'In 1989 Paul sold shares in the business to the Cebeco Seeds group and we became a breeders representative. The wholesale trade continued, but wound down,  as we represented Cebeco bred varieties and had our own trials and developed a breeding department (winter wheat) in the UK.'

'I took over the grass portfolio as well as selling small seeds like linseed and OSR (effectively 2 varieties in those days – Bienvenu and Rafal).'

'The shares acquisition continued to 1991 and with 100% the company was changed to Cebeco Seeds. Eventually changing to InnoSeeds in (about) 2000 and then being bought by DLF in 2003 – when the grass portfolio went to Inkberrow and the OSR/arable products came to Downham. In 2005 the arable business was sold to Limagrain and the site closed, but as DLF wanted to keep the highly profitable winter OSR portfolio (Lioness mostly) I was kept on, working from home, for DLF.'

'In 2007 DSV asked me if I would be interested in leaving DLF to work with DSV to market the products in the UK and I (gladly) accepted – starting 1st November 2007, before DSV UK was legally formed in February 2008.'