Since Gro Alliance has been family-owned since 1941, no history of the business can be complete without the story of the Schweigert family.The First Generation
In 1941, Gerald Schweigert had just completed the Farm Short Course at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After hearing about how hybrid corn could drastically increase corn yields beyond what could be done with open pollinated corn, Gerald was hooked. With his wife Amelia, Gerald founded G.J. Schweigert and Sons and began producing and selling Wisconsin certified hybrid seed corn to local farmers in North-Central Wisconsin. Through the use of innovation and new technology, Gerald steadily grew the business and expanded into selling small grains, soybeans and other farm inputs, while also maintaining a diverse farming operation that included milk, chicken, pork and beef production.The Second Generation
In 1977, Lou Schweigert, the youngest of six children purchased the family farm and the seed business. The business was renamed North-Gro Seeds and increased its seed distribution network to include all of Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota and Iowa. The farming operation changed as well as it shifted away from milk, chicken, pork and beef to increased seed production and the addition of green beans. Under Lou’s leadership the seed retail business quickly expanded and reached the point that the current seed production capacity was not adequate. In searching for additional seed production capacity, Lou also wanted to find an area that could support a diverse farming operation.Expansion to Cuba City, Wisconsin
In 1993, the current Cuba City, WI location was purchased and still serves as the company’s headquarters today. North-Gro Seeds continued to have success in retail seed sales, but had an expanding contract seed corn production business, even though the North-Gro Seeds brand was a competitor to many in the upper Midwest. North-Gro was recognized as a quality and service leader in seed corn production and it became the Schweigert family’s focus. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, North-Gro again began to look for additional seed production capacity, this time to expand its contract seed production business.
Between 2003 and 2004, the North-Gro Seeds brand sales were spun off to other companies and in 2005, the company was renamed Gro Alliance, expanded to multiple locations and exited the seed retail business. More exciting, however, was the third generation rejoining the family business. After growing up on the family farm and having experience in every aspect of the business, Jim (the oldest) rejoined the business in 2003 and Matt (the second oldest) in 2006. Cynthia (the third oldest) is a television reporter in Champaign, IL and Joe (the youngest) attends the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.Future as a Diversified Producer
While Gro Alliance was providing cutting edge seed corn production services for the industry, the family farm was in high gear as well. Schweigert Seed Farms produced seed corn for Gro Alliance, but also produced food grade and GMO seed soybeans. In 2010, Gro Alliance also began producing organic corn and conventionally produced specialty corn.
As agriculture continues to change and evolve, one thing is for sure, the Schweigert family will continue to challenge the status quo and look for unique opportunities in an increasingly diverse industry.