Paul Roy King was an entrepreneur who led, motivated, and inspired his employees, his colleagues, and his industry to aim higher and to achieve more, mainly for the benefit of the farmers to whom he supplied seed, service, and new crop opportunities. He is perhaps best known for his private initiatives in seed breeding, for corn, soy, and canola.
King Grain was the first private company to take an exclusive license from the University of Guelph for a seed variety developed by the university in return for royalties which went to fund continuing work in plant breeding; in this case, Perth barley. Additionally King Grain set up collaborative arrangements in France and Chile to widen the genetic scope of its work to suit other production environments and to accelerate the development of new strains. Moreover, Paul was very active in industry organizations both nationally and internationally.
In the seed business, King Grain focused initially on corn hybrids under the Pride brand; the hybrids were suited to the eastern Canadian climate, especially Quebec where it gained a 70 per cent market share. Genetic material from this work was exported to France where it was used to develop varieties suited to Europe. However varieties suited to Ontario also worked well in the neighbouring States. King Grain exported large quantities to Michigan and New York.
Soybeans were next and King’s variety, Premier, set the standard for the export of food grade soybeans to Asia. Paul was central to the export market development, playing a major role personally in forming strong alliances with end users.
Keeping his eye on the profitability of his farmer customers, Paul also operated a corn milling division to reach markets for locally grown corn. The products were shipped to the cereal, snack food, brewing, and bakery industries. With the same primary focus, Paul founded a service division to distribute agricultural chemicals in Eastern Canada, and later in the west. He enabled independent farm supply centres to obtain chemicals from most of the leading manufacturers, as well as various varieties of seeds. Always interested in assisting local farmers, King Grain established a total farm service centre in Pain Court, Ontario, in 1976.
Paul served on the board of directors of the International Seed Federation for 12 years, and as president for two years. At home, he served similarly on the Canadian Seed Trade Association, and was instrumental in making that organization an effective lobbyist for the industry in Ottawa. He also played a major role in promoting Plant Breeders’ Rights.