Cargill Animal Nutrition of Wooster, Ohio, is the 2011 Feed Mill of the Year, as named by the American Feed Industry Association and Feedstuffs, the sponsors of the annual program. Southern States Cooperative’s Winchester Mill in Winchester, Ky., is the runner-up.
“Wooster,” as the winning plant is known, is managed by Susanna Wright, only the second female plant manager to win Feed Mill of the Year. She described of the honor, “To be recognized externally by winning AFIA’s Feed Mill of the Year is a huge accomplishment, and reflects strongly on the entire team we have in place, from production stakeholders, to sales, to administrative support.”
Constructed in 1993, the plant was built to cater to the dairy market in Northeastern Ohio. The mill manufactures 42,000 tons of feed, split between bagged and bulk, including meals, pellets and textured feeds. Both inbound ingredients and finished feeds are tested for various quality specifications monthly, at a minimum, and all plant scales are certified externally twice a year.
Once Wooster expanded to carry Nutrena bagged farmstore feeds, the plant’s territory grew to include distribution in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. In the late 1990s, a 10,000 square foot addition to the warehouse was built to accommodate the Cargill Animal Nutrition brand family which includes Showmaster brand show feeds, Record Rack wildlife feeds and Right Now Mineral. Over the last three years, the facility has installed over $1 million in new equipment to accommodate sustained growth.
Cargill’s Wooster plant was certified in 2010 by AFIA’s Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program. The mill is in compliance with the Bio Terrorism Act and has been inspected by the FDA within the last year and deemed compliant. Moreover, the mill has an SPCC Plan that has been certified by a professional engineer.
Cargill Wooster has 10 production employees, one maintenance employee, five truck drivers and one clerical employee, who work on two shifts. The plant has a written recall program, safety program, a written emergency plan and a safety committee with five rotating members represented by both supervisor and non-supervisory employees. Twelve employees hold CPR-certification.
Key to Wooster’s success is the focus on employee engagement. “Our continued success out of this location speaks volumes for the team we have in place, both past and present,” Wright explained.
Wooster has had zero lost time accidents since 2004. Of its safety record, Wright explained, “I feel incredibly privileged to work for a company that places such a high emphasis on the safety of its employees. There is never a doubt in my mind that when it comes down to doing a job, safety comes first; this is apparent in both day to day operations here at Wooster, and long-term planning around how we continue to grow our business.”
Cargill Wooster takes its commitment to the community seriously, sponsoring and donating to several causes. It was among eight other Cargill businesses that participated in the Ohio Collaborative Hunger Relief fund drives of 2010 and 2011, raising over $500,000. The plant is also is involved with the Viola Startzman Free Clinic, Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank and Akron Children’s Hospital.