“We serve mostly dairy and beef operators in our retail business and do custom pelleted feeds and fill other DC wholesale orders,” says Newton. “As our business kept growing we looked at our operation and learned that our mixing process was not keeping up.
“We moved from two tumble mixers to one Hayes and Stoltz 5-ton mixer, and we cut our mix times and run times by 35 minutes, which helped us gain efficiency and add roughly 500 tons/month in additional output with that simple change,” Newton adds. “Four years ago we added a feed finisher to enhance our pellet consistency, which resulted in virtually no plugs in the dies. So while searching for improving the quality of our products, we were able to gain both quality and efficiency.”
Utilizing assets, seizing opportunity
Part of the Vita Plus success story is found in its ability to put its collective assets to their best use.
For example, both the Columbus and Lake Mills plants produce bulk and pelleted feed products. Both plants have become so efficient at pelleting that they satisfy 85% of the company’s pelleted feed needs, including specialized feeds for equine, poultry, pheasant, swine and dairy products and can switch out dies in less than 20 minutes and be ready to produce the next batch.
Loyal features an agronomic division and as Loyal’s management team of Every and Jorgensen will attest, having the agronomic team and a fertilizer plant helps deliver a well-rounded benefit to the customer base. In addition, Loyal is also home to the SF Transport, Vita Plus’ transportation arm, where full-service bays and dedicated technicians keep Vita Plus’ fleet on the go.
Madison originates orders and creates the logistics flow to keep the timely delivery of products to the wholesale customers, served by all the locations, running smoothly.
Other assets featured in the Vita Plus vault include ABC Consulting which provides essential business and planning services to livestock producers across the Midwest. The aforementioned SF Transport in addition to VP Transport provides the timely and secure delivery to customers throughout the Midwest. They do not carry prohibited ruminant products, nor do they work with facilities that handle these products, to further minimize risks of cross contamination.
Vita Builders, the construction arm of Vita Plus, works to ensure projects are done quickly, correctly and cost-effectively, from design and planning to project completion, in addition to assistance in sourcing new and used equipment through its VitaBin program.
Food for thought
When asked, all the plant managers interviewed mentioned that the future can be a little scary at times, especially with a clientele so tied to the struggling dairy industry. However, it’s that fear that motivates these managers to help guide their customers through these troubled times.
“For me, that’s part of the satisfaction I get from this job,” says Newton. “I work with customers who are committed to staying in business and my challenge is to work even more closely with them, bringing all the resources we have to the table to make them successful. It’s a challenge for all of us, but we have faced difficult times before and continued to grow.”
For Tramburg, in addition to all of their employee-owner and their adherence to their focus areas, future successes will likely revolve around harnessing new technologies for success on both a local and global scale.
“While it is difficult to predict the future with any certainty, I am certain that feed and nutrient products will need to adapt to perform in synchrony with whatever new technology avails itself to the industry,” Tramburg says. “With a global population that’s growing at a staggering pace, and until other nations demonstrate their ability to feed them, it is incumbent on production agriculture here in the Midwestern United States to deliver those food products. The other thing I feel pretty certain about is Vita Plus and our customers will play a role in that discussion.”