Ag Kota Grain
The history of Ag Kota Grain is nearly as old as the community the company serves in Plankinton, South Dakota. The origins of the business date back to a small family-owned grain elevator, organized in 1885 as the Bryan and Wheaton, later becoming Furchener Elevator. While the business has steadily expanded and changed hands, now under the ownership of Jim Page, Ag Kota Grain’s mission remains the same. The company continues to serve and support regional agriculture by buying and selling grain and stocking a variety of products such as livestock feed and seed that support farmers and ranchers.
Ag Kota Grain is always looking for new ways to better meet the needs of producers. The company invests in the latest technologies such as Internet-based pricing and grain transportation systems that help enhance the productivity of its customers.
Ag Kota Grain offers a wide range of services, including buying, selling and marketing grain, grain grading, grain and feed mixing, as well as grain cleaning and delivery. The company mainly deals in winter and spring wheat, corn, beans, oats and milo, but Ag Kota Grain has increased its offering to include livestock nutrition for cattle, sheep and swine.
A fixture in the farm community
The company has been a locally-owned grain elevator since the early 1890s with a deep-rooted history in the Plankinton community. “I used to play cards in grade school with the son of original owners,” recounts Page, now owner of Ag Kota Grain.
Page, who was born and raised in Plankinton, says the elevator always had strong standing in the town. “As long as I can remember it was the independently-owned elevator in town,” he says. “When it went up for sale in 2005, I knew I wanted to get into the business because I saw a serious opportunity.”
Since 2005, when Page purchased the first facility in Plankinton, Ag Kota Grain has added an extra 400,000 bushels in grain storage capacity. Most recently, the company has expanded its service area with facilities serving the Woonsocket, South Dakota region.
“I started leasing the Woonsocket facility from the same owners I purchased Plankinton from,” recounts Page. “After the first couple of years, I bought the facility and now, between both locations we have more than 1 million bushels in storage capacity.”
A trusted team
Although Page was born and raised in the region, he now resides about 350 miles away in Minnesota. “I don’t live in town anymore, but I come back to Ag Kota Grain several times a month,” he notes.
With a trusted, tenured team in place, Page says he can rest easy, knowing things are taken care of professionally and efficiently at Ag Kota Grain. “In Woonsocket I have an employee with 30 years in the industry running the operation and across both locations we have people that have been with the company for many years,” he says. “I have a great team and so much trust in them. Even new team members share in the same attitude of service and support because at the end of the day, we’re all working toward the same goal.”
The goal is to offer regional producers the services and products needed to optimize their operations and increase their bottom line. The obvious and major focal point is to move grain, fast and efficiently, so producers can turn a profit.
“The investments we’ve made in our unloading capacities have been central to our business in recent years,” explains Page. “Right now our primary method of transport is trucking, which we outsource to a third party. Ag Kota Grain is moving grain as far away as 350 to 400 miles into Minnesota, where it goes to processors and ethanol plants and other corn end users. We also sell to other terminals.”
To further extend transportation capacity, Ag Kota Grain is in the process of putting together a plan to add more rail hauling. “A millwright is putting together a quote to add rail siding to our facilities,” says Page. “The intention is to have this completed within the next year so we can connect to the Dakota Southern line, which will allow access to all major rail lines, including Canadian National.”
In addition to increasing transportation routes, Ag Kota Grain strives to add product lines that also support its customers operations. “We’re growing on the feed side of things quite a bit,” says Page. “We’ve added Purina, ADM Nutrition and Form-a-Feed. The feed business has doubled over the last year and we’re looking at another 30 percent gain again next year.”
Ag Kota Grain has also implemented the Legend Seed line, a widely recognized seed company delivering high-yielding, consistent, top-quality products that provide more profit potential. “We’ve been steadily modernizing and improving, adding more products, including the seed lines and expertise with a cattle feed expert,” says Page. In the ever-changing commodity business where highs and lows are a reality, this is the best way to stay ahead.
“With more experience you learn to combat challenges and adapt,” says Page. “High prices and large international competition are always going to be challenges, but we’re holding our own and serving our community the best we can and we’re not losing opportunities. Our customers are glad we’re here.”
With a friendly, helpful and overall very positive staff, Ag Kota Grain continues to offer service and support and build relationships with regional producers in South Dakota.