BB&P Feed & Grain
For more than 44 years BB&P Feed & Grain has been a major contributor to local agribusiness in Madison County, Iowa, just west of Des Moines. The company remains one of the few full-service, family-owned fuel, feed, grain and agronomy providers in the area.
BB&P Feed & Grain is a key supplier for farms throughout central Iowa, providing consistent quality in what producers need to grow and sustain their business. “Everything has gone either co-op or large corporation, but we’re still here and the only full-service fuel, feed and grain dealer in the area,” says Bob Casper, secretary and treasurer of BB&P Feed & Grain. “We’re a full-service supplier, so not only do we sell fuel, we buy grain and deal in feed, and we sell chemicals and fertilizer and will even apply them for the customer.”
The Casper family has roots on the farm, so they understand producers’ needs and challenges to stay afloat. “I come from a farming background and that’s still our major interest and the reason we got into this business,” says Casper.
After more than four decades in business, BB&P Feed & Grain is not only proud to be one of the only independently-owned retail agricultural suppliers in the area, avoiding the mass industrywide consolidation of agribusiness, but is also proud to keep close ties to the community.
BB&P Feed & Grain makes a point to give back to the community that has helped it succeed over the years. “We’re owned by two families and it’s important for us as a company to support the local community.”
The business proudly sponsors community events such as the Hawkeye Pedal Pull as well as the annual Madison County Fair. BB&P Feed & Grain also a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Adding services and greater support
As the agribusiness market grows increasingly global, BB&P Feed & Grain has found niche services and ways to stand out from large-scale competition. “We’re always adding more equipment, recently on the fertilizer side with more spreaders and on the bulk feed handling side with more grain storage and larger dump bins,” says Casper.
BB&P Feed & Grain has invested any extra cash into infrastructure and energy opportunities, such as installing a 100-kilowatt wind turbine, which helps generate energy for the busy corn harvesting season. “We’re working with the city to provide excess power back to the grid or pull energy from it for the times when it doesn’t provide us with enough, which is important because our energy needs are very seasonal and we need a lot of it to dry the corn,” says Casper.
BB&P Feed & Grain’s fertilizer business has grown in recent years as the cost of chemicals has dipped. “Everything is a world market right now,” says Casper. “The availability of generic chemicals in the past few years has been a huge change for us because fertilizers are completely dependent upon that and it ultimately affects the prices of grain.”
To help determine the best crop solutions for its customers, Casper says BB&P Feed & Grain has brought an agronomist and recent Iowa State graduate on board to better serve customers.
Finding enough hands to help out
With 21 employees on staff, BB&P Feed & Grain is able to handle almost all of the work it receives and rarely turns to subcontractors. “Occasionally we’ll sub out some of the mechanical work, but we do most of our repair work as well as electrical work and carpentry and we have a couple of guys on staff that used to work in construction that will take care of any overhauls we need,” explains Casper.
Doing so much in-house means maintaining a reliable workforce is a huge necessity, yet something Casper says BB&P Feed & Grain has struggled with lately. “We’re fortunate to have many great employees, and many who have been with us for 35 years, but they’re starting to near retirement and we’re looking for new employees to eventually fill their shoes,” he says.
Casper says it’s not the same workforce out there as 30 to 40 years ago. “Millennials are computer literate and tech savvy so they expect higher compensation,” he says. “Labor has always been a concern, but it’s something that’s more on our minds now than in the past.”
Casper says BB&P Feed & Grain continues to look for ways to expand its offering and add new support channels that help producers sustain and succeed in agriculture. “We’re always looking to expand our services, but we’re grounded in the same type of customer service; the kind that keeps customers happy,” he says.
As an independent outlet, BB&P Feed & Grain offers advantages larger operations cannot: “Maintaining our market share is critical, but I would hate to lose a customer so we work hard to give better customer service and we will also stay open later during the busy season,” says Casper. After 44 years, BB&P Feed & Grain upholds its commitment to producers and the small-town Iowa community as a full-service supplier.