Ranch-Way Feeds expands product line under new ownership | TheFencePost.com

Ranch-Way Feeds expands product line under new ownership

The oldest continuously operating business in Fort Collins, Colo., has had a plethora of incarnations. In 1868, Henry Clay Peterson and Elizabeth "Auntie" Stone built the town's first grist mill, dubbing it Lindell Mill.

Down through the years, the enterprise changed hands and names, including to Defiance, Jack Frost, Pride of Colorado, Snowflake and Snow Trader.

One owner was Joseph Mason, whose tenure beginning in 1873 was cut short despite the $12,200 he made in improvements. When he died in 1881 after being kicked by a horse, his business partner, Benjamin Franklin Hottel became sole owner. He sold the mill in 1885 to Colorado Milling & Elevator Company.

Fires in 1886, 1895 and 1976 each demanded rebuilding. Numerous technological and product line changes occurred (including a switch from a water wheel to electricity in 1919 and flour production to animal feeds in 1948).

Although theirs was until then the longest ownership, Colorado Milling & Elevator Company merged with Great Western Sugar Company in 1966-1967. That brief union was but a blink of the mill's chronological eye when, later in 1967, Ranch-Way Feeds acquired the company.

Fort Collins rewarded Ranch-Way's longevity on Nov. 15, 1994, when its buildings were added to the town's Register of Historic Places.

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Decades-long owners Bonnie Szidon and brother Joe Bixler joined the ranks of former owners when they sold Ranch-Way (and its Santa Fe, N.M., retail store, The Feed Bin) to Hubbard Feeds/Ridley, USA/Alltech Feed Mills, based in Mankato, Minn.

At the time of the June 2016 purchase transaction, Ranch-Way employed more than 50 people and, said Ranch-Way Plant Manager Neil Hemberger, the ownership change was fairly seamless. Ryan Throckmorton, retail clerk, added that some new product lines have been added but that, other than creating a lack of space, everything has remained quite similar. Perhaps that smooth transition is due to Alltech's prior 20-plus years working relationship with Ranch-Way.

Irish-born Alltech founder and owner Pearce Lyons, PhD, opened the innovative U.S. company in 1980. Lyons, a biochemist and entrepreneur, developed his fledgling enterprise into, as states Alltech's website, "a leading global biotechnology company whose mission is to improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation".

NEW PRODUCTS

Alltech prefers natural solutions and fewer antibiotics in animal production, said Ranch-Way Sales Manager Katie Sinclair. "We've updated a lot of our products, specifically for beef and poultry, by use of Alltech's technology."

Yeast supplements and trace minerals are part of that formula to upgrade feeds into a more premium product. There's now more pelleting and availability, too.

However, the goal is to use Alltech's technologies to advance, not replace, Ranch-Way's basic identity. Now operating in 127 countries with 5,000 employees, Alltech nevertheless recognizes each location's identity as locally or regionally individual.

"Every business they've bought has its own processing technique to be profitable," Sinclair said.

Further, Alltech has every intention of maintaining the Ranch-Way operation in its current location, she said. They want to continue milling in Fort Collins to best-serve their core customers in the area.

"We're not moving currently but rather planning on expanding the organic line," she said, then mused, "Can I say that in 20 years we'll still be in the same building? … Well, no, I can't see that far ahead."

Sinclair described Alltech's owner, Lyons, as very hands-on, both in product development and production to the company's philanthropic efforts. It's those endeavors that distinguish Alltech for more than its keen technology and business sense.

Hurricane Harvey stirred the company into action. Recognizing that the historic storm's damage could be devastating to Texas farmers and ranchers (who contribute more than $20 billion annually to the U.S. economy), Alltech has launched "Hope After Harvey."

RELIEF FOR TEXAS

This program is designed to deliver relief specifically to the Texas farm and ranch community. Alltech donated $20,000 to kick off the fund and is matching the first $80,000 in donations made by Sept. 15, 2017, to its 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Alltech ACE foundation (https://go.alltech.com.harveyrelief).

The Alltech family has also committed to donating $100,000 in value of animal feed and crop products.

Additionally, a team of employees was deployed the first week of September to Texas to help rope errant cattle. More such groups will follow in the months ahead to assist farmers/ranchers wherever needed, be it installing new fencing, repairing or building barns/outbuildings, restoring fields or herding animals.

It could be said that Harvey wasn't Alltech's first meteorological rodeo. After Haiti's destruction from a January 2010 hurricane, a team of Alltech representatives surveyed the island country's dire needs to see how the company could help.

A long-term commitment evolved from that initial visit. Called the Alltech Sustainable Haiti Project, it uses Haitian coffee plants to grow beans for Alltech Cafe Citadel Coffee.

Moreover, like Jack's beanstalk, up sprang countless improvements that enable Haitian children to learn in better, safer classroom environments. Two island schools have greatly benefited.

In Ouanaminthe, student numbers have doubled to 500. Jointly working with First Presbyterian Church in Lexington, a fully equipped computer room and library have been created. A recent land purchase will also allow installation of a water purification system.

Thanks to the Alltech Sustainable Haiti Project, the school in Dondon has 200 metres of road improvements that make it safer and easier for their 300 students to attend classes. They've also added new classrooms, restrooms and a water well that provides clean water for 2,000 local residents.

Ranch-Way Feed Mills has a long history of working for and with the ag community. It appears that there are many more pages yet to be written in the new Alltech era.

-Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at ponytime47@gmail.com.