After high school graduation, Jim Girardin Jr. enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln—a decision undoubtedly influenced by his early experience with the family business and growing up in an ag community. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy in 1983 and went on to complete graduate work in the area of turfgrass research. Along the way, two of his advisers kept him interested in grasses: Emeriti Professors of Agronomy Lowell Moser, a range scientist, and Robert “Bob” C. Shearman, a turfgrass scientist. “They were solid role models who fostered my interest in grass.”
When the original seed company went bankrupt in 1954, Leonard Girardin recognized the potential of the Broken Bow locale and purchased the division he had been managing. Leonard Girardin owned and operated Arrow Seed until his passing in 1977. At that time Jim Girardin Sr., who came to the business after he graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1959, took over. “It was his lifelong career, passion and love. Well, the business and my mom,” said Jim Girardin Jr.
“There are tremendous opportunities in ag today, if one is willing to look outside the box for those value-added services and products.”
A year working at the Lincoln Country Club during college also helped make Jim Girardin Jr. a self-proclaimed turf guy. “That’s really what got me excited about being a golf course superintendent.” From 1985 through 1994, Jim Girardin Jr. was a golf course superintendent at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island, and it looked like he had established a career for himself apart from Arrow Seed.
Now, 70 years later, his son Jim Girardin Sr. has retired from the business; grandson Jim Girardin Jr. is the president of Arrow Seed; and great-grandson Logan Girardin, who joined the family business in March 2015, is a retail sales associate.
In the 1940s and 50s, the agricultural landscape in the area was primarily dryland farming, and there was significant seed production for alfalfa, clovers and grasses. “It made sense to locate a seed company in Custer County,” Jim Girardin Jr. said.
Jim Girardin Jr. said he probably wasn’t fully aware of everything that made up Arrow Seed in the 60s and 70s, but he had a pretty good idea. “I learned to sweep floors and stack seed very well,” he said. Despite his sweeping and stacking skills, Jim Girardin Jr.’s future in the family business seemed somewhat unlikely because of his severe allergies. “I had hay fever pretty bad, and all of the seed dust made working around the plant very difficult back then.”
“The ultimate goal of our business is to provide the farmer/rancher with the best forage options for his or her herd.” To this end, Jim Girardin Jr. noted that “the University of Nebraska Extension has been a tremendous asset both to us and to the Nebraska cattle industry.”
As irrigation was introduced to the area in the 1960s and 70s, cropping practices and patterns changed and much of that seed production moved away. But Arrow Seed stayed. “Our business really fits the area now because we’re primarily a forage-based company, and the ultimate consumers of our products—the beef cow, the dairy cow, the cow-calf pair—are here,” he said.
Alumni Spotlight – Arrow Seed “There are tremendous opportunities in ag today, if one is willing to look outside the box for those value-added services and products.” ARROW SEED is