Mom, daughters say the time was right to jump into business
SHEDD — Christie McDowell and her daughters did a little “soul searching” before they decided that the opportunity was right for them to start a business.
Together, Christie and daughters Mandi Mack and Marissa McDowell decided to trust their skills and take the leap to open Vista Seed Partners in Shedd. They will be supplying custom and proprietary turf grass and forage products to customers across the country.
“It was the opportune time,” Christie said. “We have the experience.”
Christie has been an executive in the seed industry for 30 years, has served as president of the Oregon Seed Association (only the second woman to hold that post) and is active in numerous state and national seed organizations.
Her daughters combine for another 20-plus years in the industry.
“We’ve been through the changes and we believe the seed industry is improving,” Christie said. “The timing was right for us.”
Three women running a seed company isn’t very common. But Christie says their experience opens plenty of doors.
“It’s a little unusual,” Marissa said. “We were all born and raised right here, though, and people are more interested in the fact that we know the business. They want a reliable partner who can help them grow their product. We’re very service oriented.”
The company opened its doors Sept. 8 at 30140 Highway 99E, at the edge of Shedd. It is in the same building the housed Willamette Seed for many years.
The new owners went to work remodeling the 1,700-square-foot interior, gutting most of it and making it a home for their business. Construction is still in progress, but should be complete in another week.
“We have been moving around inside while it is getting finished,” said Marissa, who is involved mostly in the sales end of the company.
All three work in sales, with Christie in charge of production and purchasing and Mandi involved in the marketing end.
There are seven full-time employees who make up the technical team. Jerry Pepin, turf specialist, who is a leading expert on trufgrass breeding, Christie said. He will provide customer counseling and lead product development.
The company didn’t waste time getting down to business. It has been selling and shipping seeds since day one of business.
“We have good relationships with local farmers and warehouses,” Christie said. “Our warehouses are located here in Shedd and Tangent.”
The location has helped in getting Vista established. It’s easily accessible from either direction on 99E.
Although open only a month, business has been steady, according to Christie. She said they have created long-term partnerships with growers and distributors.
“So far things have pleasantly surprised us,” Christie said. “Between the three of us, we don’t rely on regional sales. We follow the relationship no matter where it may be across the country.”
Information on Vista Seed Partners, which has operating hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, is available on the company website at www.vistaseedpartners.com or by calling 800-975-6939.