Bar ALE Inc.
For 60 years, Bar ALE Inc. has been a family-owned business. Located in Williams, California, the company’s focus is providing value-added feed products to the livestock industry, including horse, swine, poultry, sheep, rabbit, goats, beef and dairy cattle as well as numerous other species. In addition to producing and distributing bulk commercial livestock feeds, Bar ALE also manufactures a full line of sacked products sold to retail feed stores. The sacked product lines include premium feeds as well as high-quality simple grains. While the company manufactures feeds for nearly all species, it has distinguished itself for its premium horse and poultry feeds.
Over the years, Bar ALE has become a major player in the organic feeds market. By carrying a full line of certified organic products, the company provides the best method to safeguard against genetically modified organisms (GMO) and GMO contamination. “Some of our best-sellers are our organic dairy mixes and organic poultry feeds,” says Stephen Davis, regulatory compliance and marketing director for Bar ALE. “We work with a lot of organic dairies that are California Certified Organic Farmer [CCOF] certified.” By being certified organic, Bar ALE remains legally bound by its claim compared to non-GMO labels without certification.
Bar ALE became associated with CCOF in 2012. Upon becoming certified, Bar ALE found that one of the biggest challenges was keeping up with demand. “From a marketing perspective, it’s very different with traceability and other hurdles we’ve met with new procedures,” Davis explains. “The overall certification and ingredient costs present a challenge, but the amount of sales volume ultimately helps out with this.”
By joining CCOF, both parties have experienced a growth process. “I deal with all of the regulatory compliance framework,” says Davis. “There will be times when they will do an audit on us and they end up modifying compliance regulations because they find that with us producing livestock feed, we have different risks and challenges than someone who is producing tomatoes.”
Overall, Davis feels the process has created better practices in policy and procedures to find the most efficient and cost-effective means of compliance while maintaining a safe and traceable quality product.
Bar ALE relocated to Williams from Petaluma, California in 1999. By changing locations, the company placed itself in an ideal spot for accessibility to trucking routes and rail cars, which has created convenience in the logistics of moving freight. “This, among other things, has helped our poultry business to quadruple,” says Davis. “A lot of backyard producers are now looking for a premium certified-organic alternative.”
A strong foundation
ALE is an acronym for Ash, Lewis and Epping, the original founders of Bar ALE. Tracy Lewis is Davis’ father-in-law and currently serves as president of the company. They work together, encouraging free and innovative thinking in the workplace.
“We don’t want corporate drones,” says Davis. “We think of our employees as members of our family. When we hire people, we look for individuals who have the same goals and core values that Bar ALE was founded with.” Bar ALE has been able to maintain strong employee retention and many of its employees have been with the company for 15 to 20 years.
As many of Bar ALE’s customers are small-town dairy farmers, the company often visits clients at their homes. The family environment that Bar ALE provides is appealing to its market as most farmers prefer to see a small company survive as numerous corporate firms begin to take over and cut into the numbers of local family businesses. “We are big enough to provide value and small enough to remain flexible,” says Davis. “Our customers want us to be able to stay ahead of the curve and be able to react quickly to changes in the market and industry. We believe this strategy is vital to our core business.”
This is a positive trend that Davis is witnessing in the industry, especially with organics. With the projected increase in population by 2050, the world will need 70 percent more food. Davis feels that technology will play a major role in satisfying this demand. “It’s all about efficiency,” he says. “Technology will play a major part in generating more food with fewer acres.”
He and his colleagues are fully invested in the future of the food supply and adapting to advances in technology. As organics increasingly infiltrate the market, Bar ALE Inc. will continue to provide customers with what they want and need at the best possible value.