Burrus celebrates 80 years of operation in West-Central Illinois

By Blake Schnitker

Soybeans are stored in 70,000 square feet of new warehouse space (above). Tim Greene hard at work in his new office in Jacksonville (below).

The dawning of the new year marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of Burrus Seed Farms, and with eight decades behind them, their mission remains the same: ensuring the ongoing success of their loyal and local customers.

Since 1935, Burrus has served the many agricultural needs of west-central Illinois, with its main offices located in Arenzville. Now, with more than 80 years of sustained success, they find themselves expanding even further. In 2013, Burrus opened up new warehouse facilities in Jacksonville, IL, adding more than 70,000 square feet of storage. Used mostly for its additional storage space, most of Burrus’ owners and sales managers remained in Arenzville, where the office space was becoming increasingly cramped.

“We remodeled the office space here just recently, and we’ve been in the new offices since about November,” said Tim Greene, one of the five owners of Burrus Hybrids, “We were fortunate enough to be growing down in Arenzville, and we were just getting stacked on top of each other. So the new offices have been ideal for us, we’ve moved our customer-service reps up to this new location, some of our agronomics staff is here now also, and then the ownership group all have some dual office space, both here and in Arenzville.”

Aside from Mr. Greene, Burrus Hybrids is owned by Tom Burrus, Todd Burrus, Kevin Burrus, and Martha Krohe. With its origins based in central Illinois, Burrus has now expanded significantly into eastern Missouri and southern Wisconsin, providing the latest in seed technology for thousands of farms throughout the Midwest.

“Our two primary focuses have been Illinois and Missouri,” said Greene, “In 2008 we purchased Hoblit Seed Company based out of Atlanta, Illinois. That [purchase] is what really propelled us into the soybean business, which is why we were in need of more warehouse space.”

An independent, family-owned business themselves, Burrus takes pride in maintaining strong relationships with their customers, many of which have remained loyal to Burrus for more than three generations. Burrus itself is much like the local farming community that comprises its customer base, a company handed down from generation to generation, with three of their five owners – Tom, Todd, and Kevin Burrus – carrying the surname of its founders, Roy and Wilbur Burrus.

“We’re proud of our independence. Tom and Todd [Burrus] have grown up with it, with their father and grandfather starting the business,” said Greene, whose wife, Laurie, is Tom Burrus’ oldest daughter, “and then myself, along with Kevin [Burrus] and Martha [Krohe], we represent the fourth generation. So it really is our family’s passion – our investment, our livelihood.”

Greene, who has two sons of his own, Griffin, 18, and Gannon, 16, hopes that the business will stay with the family, mentioning that both of his sons have worked in the fields as part of Burrus’ youth program, which hires teenagers every summer to de-tassel ears of corn around the area. Tim Greene himself can remember his days in the field.

“Honestly, we’ve been pretty fortunate,” Greene said, “and we’re one of few businesses that still uses a vast amount of local area kids. For our de-tasseling, we draw from a radius of a little over 20 miles, definitely from the Chapin, Arenzville, and Virginia areas. And it’s really cool and humbling to hear from folks that call and thank us 20 years later for the work ethic they learned while de-tasseling.”

As they enter their 80th year of operation, now with new warehouse and office facilities in Jacksonville, Burrus looks to carry on the tradition of providing a personal touch to the agricultural hub of west-central Illinois. And with the family name still intact, Burrus hopes for another 80 years of successful, independently-owned agribusiness.

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About the author

Sports writer with two and a half years as Jacksonville High School's starting quarterback from '06 to '08. Blake currently volunteers his knowledge as a football coach.

View all articles by Blake Schnitker

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