Local Business Making National Impact – Billings Area News Group Jan 2013
Agri-Best Feeds (33N 15th Street, Billings, MT) was recently recognized at the national SweetPro Distributors Conference as being #1 nationally in cattle tonnage sales, #4 in the nation in horse tonnage sales, and #1 in overall dollar sales. They were also inducted into (and held the highest spot) the Million Dollar Club.
Agri-Best Feeds founder and president, Irv Haidle, introduced SweetPro into the marketplace at the NILE Show in 2006 after two years of personal trials of the SweetPro products on his own cattle. SweetPro had claimed that mature cattle on a maintenance diet would actually eat up to 25% LESS forage and perform better. This sounded too good to be true to Irv, so he put it to the test. He had a group of cattle that he had in the dry lot with 8 big round hay feeders. He knew how long his cattle took to clean up all of the hay with his current supplement program so he filled the hay feeders, removed his current supplement, and replaced it with SweetPro. To Irv’s surprise, after six weeks, the hay was actually lasting 28% longer! Irv did this test again the following year with similar results and decided to market SweetPro.
As a result from the NILE Show, interest in the product grew and spread. At this point Irv had to determine if he was simply going to be a local dealer and service the area ranches that he could personally serve in southeastern Montana from his ranch in Fallon, or if he wanted to establish a distribution system that could service all of Montana. Irv talked to his family and the group decided to go the distribution route and formed a family corporation in the spring of 2007.
The corporation hired Irv’s son-in-law, Scott Anderson, and moved the corporate headquarters to the regional hub of Billings to start to establish market share and build the infrastructure needed to make this product available anywhere in Montana. The business grew rapidly and by 2008 Irv’s son, Daryl, was hired as the distribution manager to oversee all product movement. By 2009, Agri-Best had established itself to such a point with a distribution footprint of Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Redmond Natural Trace Mineral was looking for distribution in this same area and with the Redmond being another value added product and the fact that Agri-Best Feeds program is your forage + SweetPro + salt, so it seemed like a natural fit to distribute the Redmond products as well.
In January of 2010, Agri-Best Feeds moved their warehouse to their current location in the Kairos Center (33N 15th Street, Billings – former Pierce Packing building) which is a great location for serving dealers and customers not only locally but also is able to supply products throughout Montana and Wyoming. In 2012 they opened their corporate offices in the same location and also opened another outlet in Callaway, NE.
In September of 2011, Irv was killed in an automobile accident.
When asked how and why Agri-Best Feeds continue to grow even after the death of its founder and president, Director of Operations, Scott Anderson stated that there are many factors that play into it. “First and foremost, God has blessed our business with great people. Irv laid a great foundation for the business providing great leadership, planning, and training; the family that we work with on a daily basis; outside wisdom from our business coaches and partners; our dealership network; and of course our customers.”
“The unique product lines are another important part of our growth. SweetPro is not only a great complete supplement, but it also EXTENDS forage – It helps cattle (all livestock) perform better on LESS forage. This is important all of the time, but critical in a drought year that we have been through and the high hay prices. The hay/forage savings with SweetPro can totally offset the price of the product and, when hay is up over $125/ton, actually put money in your pocket through the hay savings. The Redmond salt is a mined sea mineral that contains over 60+ trace minerals in their natural balance and fits great with our goals of improving animal health and performance; forage utilization (true feed efficiency); and improving producers bottom line.”
When asked about the current growth and what the future looks like for Agri-Best Feeds, Andersons replied, “In 2012, we saw a 68% sales growth in Montana, 67% growth in Nebraska, and a 27% growth in Wyoming. We expect to see continued growth in all of our territories as we seek to share with people the value of these products. Currently we are serving less than 1% of the 10 million or so cattle in the states that we service and we feel that these unique products could be 20%+ market share products. If that weren’t enough, we also are expanding into a brand new market in utilizing our sea minerals for soil application and are finding that this improves production and plant quality in pasture land, hay ground, and crops while reducing the fertilizer input cost.”
For more information on Agri-Best Feeds or any of their products, visit www.agribestfeeds.com or call their corporate headquarters in Billings at 866 601-6646